Hellweek and Barry’s were two words that dominated my vocabulary during Week 14. At one point I was asked who is this Barry and why is he making you have a bad week?
I made my first, long awaited, visit to Barry’s back in January, Week 9, describing it as the holy grail of workouts and the whole experience of setting foot in the studio, being the complete package. I was warned Barry’s was addictive and I was dying to get back there.
Hellweek at Barry’s occurs whenever there are five Monday’s in a month and involves 7 classes in 7 days. Days 1-4 focus on different specific muscle groups and then Days 5-7 are full body workouts. Considering how tough I found my first class and how sore I was the days after, the idea of Hellweek seemed ludicrous and that made the challenge all the more appealing to me.
At first I was a little concerned on the effect Hellweek would have on my marathon training, as I wouldn’t be running for a whole week and then half of the next recovering. As you may have seen from my last few posts as it turned out there has been a major blip in my training as it is and so I felt Hellweek was just the extreme challenge that I needed, to mentally and physically reboot me.
Booking for classes go live at 12 midday each day for the following week. Luckily for me there was no fight over 10:45am and 4:15pm weekday classes, but to book my weekend classes I had to have speedy fingers and be on the website, refreshing at 11:59am. There was definitely some carnage amongst my fellow Hellweekers over bagging the sought after classes just either side of working hours.
Monday – Abs & Arms at East with Olly Truelove
On the treadmill I reached 8mph and maxed out, I was extremely uncomfortable and gasping for breath. On the floor I was struggling with the 5kg dumbbells. I have no upper body strength. I gave it my all but came away thinking how on earth did I think I could do this for 7 days in a row. After class I sampled one of Barry’s infamous post work out shakes. I opted for Simply PB and within one sip I was addicted. Knowing that I had a shake waiting at the end of each workout honestly was a life saver. I planned to try out various shakes over the course of the week but only managed to venture from this classic once.
Tuesday – Legs and Bum at East with Jemma
I really didn’t want to face the treadmill again. Like really really didn’t want to. Then the incline went to 8%. If it wasn’t for Jemma shouting my name in encouragement I would have not managed to keep up my speed. On the floor, with my runner’s legs I was feeling strong and enjoyed the burn from the squats and lunges. This gave me a real boost to tackle the second round on the treadmill.
Wednesday – Chest, back and abs at East with Faisal aka Mr PMA
I’ve heard a lot about how awesome Faisal’s classes are and the reality did not disappoint. High energy, full of encouragement and a tonne of Positive Mental Attitude saw me reaching 9.5mph and upping my dumbbells to 6kg. Something really clicked in this class and I left on a high ready to conquer the rest of the week. I also had my first shower at Barry’s (don’t judge the other days I was heading straight home) and the products they use by Malin + Goetz are heavenly. The peppermint shampoo is just the revitalization you need after a sweaty class and the body lotion feels like silk. Yet another expensive habit to resist adopting.
Thursday – Abs at East with Jemma
Abs are something I long for but yet can never bring myself to work on outside a class environment. I knew this was going to be a tough session because my core strength is very poor. I may not have visible abs but they are definitely hidden away somewhere because by the end of the session and several rounds of planks, crunches, jackknives, they were on fire. On the treadmill I stared myself down (the walls are mirrors) as I ranked up the speeds to reach 10mph following Wednesday’s improvement and we faced inclines of 12%.
Friday – Fullbody at Central with Alex
15% inclines, 11mph speeds and 8kg dumbbells. Today really demonstrated to me the progress you can make in just five days if you really stick your heels in. Tackling a full body workout when every single muscle group already hurts is super tough. I kept thinking of the shake waiting for me at the end and used the staring myself down in the mirror tactic again.
Saturday – Fullbody at Central with Hannah
I woke up and my body was crying out for a rest day. I was very stiff and every small movement engaged a sore muscle. It was most definitely the hardest day mentally as usually I would never exercise for this many days in a row. But was I going to skip class and be a Hellweek drop out. HELL NO. I knew by this point I would be struggling and was so grateful that I had co-ordinated doing a class with other fellow hellweekers. I loved Hannah’s class, from her style to her playlist, it was brutal and amazing in equal measures. 1 handed burpees on Day 6 of Hellweek…. there were not words, I genuinely feared how my face would fare again the floor. On the treadmill an amazing tune came on and I made it to 11.5mph sprint speed, how when we were running on a 9% incline for recovery I don’t know. I literally couldn’t even talk by the time we finished. TMI but I was a little bit sick in my mouth at one point.
(Photo credit – Laura Murray @murraylaura)
Sunday – THE BIG FINISHER – Fullbody at Central with Shane
The class was buzzing, we all knew we had an hour left to give it every last morsel of energy we had and then some, before Hellweek was complete. The badge of being a Hellweek survivor was dangling in front of us and there was no holding back. When the lights went down, I pushed and pushed and pushed, having come away from Hellweek, I didn’t want to think that I hadn’t given it my all and knowing that tomorrow would be rest day I emptied the tank. 12.3mph sprint on the treadmill for 30 seconds. It took absolutely everything I had. Staring in the mirror I was going so fast my reflection was blurry and my cheeks couldn’t keep up with the movement of the rest of my face. I have to confess I took my finger off the speed button a little too early, I thought I was at 12.5mph. But I’ll be back to conquer that 12.5 officially and want to work towards maintaining speeds of 10/11mph for the 90 second sprints.
I felt pure elation when the lights came up knowing I had conquered Hellweek, I wanted to bottle that feeling up, instead I’m going to remind myself of it when I’m at Mile 20 of my marathon and need that spur to the finish line.
(Photo credit : Charlie Watson @therunnerbeans)
What really topped the week off for me was the amazing support and inspiration from all the other Hellweekers. We may have only done a few classes together but we exchanged stories of the aches, pains, achievements and number of half naked men, each day, making it feel like we really were taking on the challenge together.
I am so proud of myself and every other person that took on Hellweek. Its brutal but as I sit here nursing my sore muscles I have no regrets. I feel stronger, physically and mentally than ever before. Brighton Marathon, I’m coming for you!!!
If you have any questions, doubts or concerns about attending your first Barry’s class or taking on Hellweek ask away. Oh and I may have already looked up that the next Hellweek is in May…..
See you in the redroom.