Back when I was a gym junkie before the pandemic, Barry’s was one of my favorite workouts. And of all the boutique fitness classes I took, it was the one that tested my mental strength the most. Pushing though running intervals and intense strength training exercises under the signature red lights always left me digging deeper to find motivation to make it to the end.
While it was always a challenge getting through it, the feeling of accomplishment afterward was worth it.
So when I heard that Barry’s was releasing a new digital platform this month — called Barry's X — I was curious if they could re-create the same intense workout experience at home.
The verdict? The platform didn’t disappoint. Barry's X brings you as close as you are going to get to the real experience without being in a Barry’s studio.
Cost and equipment
You can access classes on the Barry's X app (available on iOS and Android) or on a desktop.
You then have two options: You can pay per class (buying credits the way you would to book in-studio classes) or you can buy a membership, which gives you access to a set number of live classes per month, plus a large library of on-demand classes. One class will cost you $20, which is about half what I used to pay in New York City, and the price per class decreases if you buy them in bundles. There are five options for memberships, ranging from $39/month to $175/month.
To get the most out of the app, you should have access to a treadmill, dumbbells and a resistance band. That being said, you can modify exercises without weights and run outside if you don’t have a treadmill.
Once in the app, you can reserve a live class or choose one of the on-demand classes, which are divided into four categories: cardio, strength, strength and cardio and stretch. There are about 15 live classes a day — starting at 6 a.m. on weekdays and ending as late as 9:45 p.m. You can filter the live classes by class type, instructor, instructor location and time.
The app also has a social tab where you can friend other members and see their stats and what classes they take. Once someone is on your friend list, you can invite them into different “rooms” during a live workout so you can interact with each other.
Once in a live class, you have the option of turning your camera on for the whole class to see, the instructor only or turning it off altogether. There is also a live chat feature where you can ask the instructor questions (Barry's has a moderator to help) and a “red light” feature where you can put a filter over your video to make it look like you’re in studio.
The workout options are pretty straightforward and similar to the studio: You can go all strength, all running or a combination of treadmill work and strength training.
The first class I tried was a total body workout with resistance bands. We used both the bands with handles and the loop resistance bands. Each circuit followed a similar progression: a full exercise (like a squat, bicep curl, lunge, etc.), a pulse in that exercise and then a static hold. This format targets specific muscles and burns them out, working them to complete fatigue. While the class was really challenging and I spent most of it with some part of my body on fire, the instructor offered lots of modifications — whether for beginners or for those who wanted more of a challenge.
Sharing my video with the instructor and using the live chat feature helped create the energy of an in-studio class and definitely motivated me to keep pushing myself. I do a lot of live classes, but not many offer this interactive ability where the instructor can actually see you.
I found this class to be similar to the original Barry’s classes in that I was completely fatigued by the end. I felt accomplished knowing I had pushed myself as hard as I possibly could go.
I'll admit I dragged my heels at taking a running class — it is far from my favorite form of exercise — but I finally talked myself into a live Lift & Run class.
The class was 50 minutes and focused on “ass and abs” in the lifting portion. It was divided into 21 minutes of strength training and 21 minutes of running on the treadmill (plus a warm-up for each).
The class began with strength training. We did a combination of bodyweight exercises and moves using dumbbells and a resistance band. We did exercises like weighted squats and lunges (using a dumbbell and a resistance band) and bodyweight core exercises, like plank jacks, mountain climbers and jack knives.
When we hopped on the treadmill, I definitely felt ready to run (physically at least, not mentally). The strength portion was a really good way to warm up my body before the cardio.
Just like in a Barry’s class, the instructor began by laying out a beginner, middle and advanced benchmark for your speed, whether you were on a treadmill or running outside. We then used this benchmark to increase to a run and then a sprint. For example, we started with a jog speed of 5, 6, or 7 mph, depending on your level, and then added a certain number of points to that speed as we progressed through different intervals.
The running portion of class was all interval training, which I was happy to see. Running at a steady pace for an extended period of time is not my cup of tea. Each circuit alternated between either 30-, 60- or 90-second intervals of a jog, run and push/sprint, with a walking rest in between each circuit. Because the intervals were short and constantly changing between different speeds, I was able to push myself way harder than I ever would have jogging on my own.
Honestly, if the class wasn’t live, I might have quit half way through the run. HIIT training on the treadmill is hard; there is no other way to put it. I turned my camera on for the run portion because I knew that being aware the teacher could see me would motivate me to finish.
I still found the treadmill portion a bit of a struggle to get through, but I logged a little over 2 miles in 20 minutes and it definitely went by way faster than if I had run two miles on my own. I was dripping sweat and breathless by the time I finished and felt like I got an amazing cardiovascular workout.
What I liked
Barry's X offers so many live class options — there are about 15 a day starting at 6 a.m. some days and ending as late as 9:45 p.m — that there are always classes to fit your schedule.
In my experience, you can get a very similar workout to being in person at Barry’s and feel just as accomplished as you did in studio.
I really like the benchmarks provided during the treadmill portion, which is a staple of Barry’s classes. It allows the instructor to lead a class through challenging intervals, while also customizing the workout to each person's fitness level. I also liked that the teacher provided options for both those on a treadmill and those running outside. I didn’t realize that was going to be an option, but I definitely would take advantage of outdoor runs on nice days.
Of course, it’s missing an element that can only be gleaned from an in-person studio class, but they really do their best at re-creating that vibe with a teacher who can see you and talk to you during the workout, and the ability to see others if they opt in with video during a live class.
The platform is also a great option for those who have access to a gym but don’t always know what to do on the treadmill or in the weight room. You can pop in some headphones and tune in to a live class and get the most out of your time at the gym.
Perhaps the most enticing thing about the new platform is the price. A class at an NYC-studio set me back $38 dollars, so the fact that I can get a very similar workout for about half the price will keep me coming back even after I feel safe going back in person.
What I didn’t like
I found the music playlists hit or miss. Obviously, music is a pretty personal choice and there were some classes where I absolutely loved the music, but during the running portion of my class in particular, I wasn’t a huge fan and felt it could have been louder. As someone who doesn’t enjoy running, I need bangers to motivate me.
I would also say you need to be in decent shape or really know your own limits to safely do these classes at home, especially when it comes to the treadmill portion. I am in great shape, but not great running shape, so I chose the beginner level speed for every interval and I was completely gassed at the end. I also felt nervous that I was going to fall off the treadmill during the sprints — and that was sprinting at the lowest recommended speed! I had to slow it down below the recommended beginner level during some of the sprints because I felt out of control.
I often felt the same way during Barry's in person classes — so they stay true to really pushing your limits! — but you need some self-awareness to be able to make adjustments to keep yourself safe.
Even though there are separate stretch classes offered, I wish there was more of a cool down and stretch portion incorporated at the end of the workouts themselves. A lot of them end pretty abruptly; you finish your last round of intense exercise and then the class is just over. As someone who doesn’t always have time to click onto another class, having just a few minutes to cool down would have been nice.
I would recommend this to:
- People who want to keep working out at home, but miss an in-studio experience
- Those who don’t live near a Barry’s studio and want to try the popular workout
- Fitness junkies who are in good shape and looking for a challenge
- People on a budget who want to access the popular workout for less money
- Anyone who hates running and wants to make the treadmill more fun (or less painful!)
- People who need more guidance when working at a gym