Fairweather publisher ERIC GOODMAN sits down with exercise guru BARRY JAY— founder of Barry’s Bootcamp— to discuss the future of fitness.
In 1988, Barry Jay may have seemed like an unlikely candidate to pioneer the future of body sculpting. As an aspiring Los Angeles songwriter weighing in at 120 pounds, he found himself nearly broke and unclear about his career goals when he signed up for a $19-per-month membership at Sports Connection, a precursor to today’s 24 Hour Fitness.
Jay had never worked out before. “I went around stalking people on the fitness machines to see what they were doing,” he recalls. “And I always steered clear of the free weights room.”
But that $19 gym membership changed not only Jay’s life, but ultimately the lives of many of his future clients. Over the next six years, Jay developed a tremendous penchant for exercising—including the free weights—while maintaining a job in public relations. “But public relations is really a lifestyle and skill set unto itself,” he explains. Long story short? “I was not a good worker and got fired.” That turned out to be a lucky break. His next job was as a receptionist at City Hall, where he befriended Mayor John Heilman, who ultimately guided him to an $8-per-hour job answering phones at a nearby gym. “I took a ton of free classes and just loved the energy of the room,” Jay enthuses.
Barry’s 60 minutes of fame finally arrived one fateful day when the class instructor missed attendance. “I leapt over the desk before the manager could even finish asking me to fill in.” Radiating energy and excitement, he assumed the helm and realized at that point that “this is what I was meant to be to doing.” He proudly marked his next two years as a class instructor with perfect attendance.
That local gym shut down just two short years later in the fall of 1998 due to mismanagement. “I was told the morning of, that this would be my last class as an instructor,” Barry recalls. Fast on his feet—no pun intended—and determined to keep pressing on, “I took a legal pad and started writing down the names of everyone who attended my last class.” One of the class attendees, John Mumford, cultivated a strong relationship with Jay and would later become a business partner in the famed Barry’s Bootcamp.
Twelve years later, Barry’s Bootcamp has expanded briskly beyond its original West Hollywood location. After spreading throughout California and the East Coast, Barry’s Bootcamp broadened its international presence with locations in London and Norway. In a period where time management and utility maximization are of primary importance in our daily lives, Barry’s Bootcamp has solidified its place as one of the most efficient and effective hour-long workout classes of its time.
THE FUTURE OF FITNESS
In developing Barry’s Bootcamp, Jay is helping to change some antiquated notions about body sculpting. His major innovations include:
A broad range of free weights, including not only conventional 5- and 10-pound weights but also those up to 50 pounds or more.
Dedicated classes for targeted body parts, including arms, legs, chest, etc.
Red lights! “There’s something about red lights in the class that just raises the energy and intensity of the workout,” he says.
Customer service. As commonplace as it may sound, this is a major change for a fitness program. “It’s the human factor,” explains Jay. “If you signed up for a class and didn’t attend, we call and ask, ‘How come you weren’t at class?’ That kind of interest and dedication resonates with customers.”
With additional locations on the way, come check out Barry’s Bootcamp.