- Anna Webber / Getty Images
- Lee Edwards, a partner at early-stage venture firm Root Ventures, tweeted Thursday “The 3 B’s of venture deals: Barry’s, The Battery, and Burning Man.”
- The first B is Barry’s Bootcamp, an intense bootcamp-style fitness program that is known for its pricey camouflage workout gear, club-like atmosphere, and intimidating instructors.
- I did the program’s signature “Full Body” workout in one of its San Francisco studios, and I left without funding but plenty of sweat.
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Lee Edwards, a partner at early-stage venture firm Root Ventures, tweeted Thursday “The 3 B’s of venture deals: Barry’s, The Battery, and Burning Man.”
The mockery was swift, but according to the replies to Edwards’ tweet, there was a grain of truth to the first B, which refers to Barry’s Bootcamp.
The intense bootcamp-style fitness program was started in Los Angeles in 1998 by fitness trainer Barry Jay, according to the studio’s website, because Jay wanted an all-in-one workout that included cardio and weight lifting. Now, Barry’s is available in 17 cities across 10 states plus Washington, D.C. The studio also has 10 international locations from Dubai to Stockholm to Melbourne, and has commanded a global following as one of the toughest workouts around.
Barry’s studios are also known for the exorbitant cost of classes and branded camouflage gear, its club-like atmosphere, and instructors whose foul-mouthed commands would make a Marine blush.
On its face, Barry’s Bootcamp is the Patagonia vest of workouts: it doesn’t make a ton of sense to those deemed “outsiders,” but for those in the know it’s a symbol of rugged toughness and status.
Scroll through Instagram’s various Barry’s geotags and hashtags and you’ll notice that in addition to the expected “fit-fluencer” posts, the page is dotted with tech founders and their teams and other Bay Area notables.
“Data has shown that Founders that opt for double floor tend to focus on short term exits vs. longer term growth, and investors come to take notice” one startup exec joked to Business Insider, referring to the famous “double floor” strength routine at Barry’s.
“Furthermore, investors go there looking for signal in the noise of treadmill speed. Early indications show that there is an inverse relationship between treadmill speed and company cash runway,” the exec said.
Members of the cult of Barry like to be uncomfortable and to reward themselves with niceties not available at an ordinary CrossFit gym. After a 50-minute burst of activity, many bootcampers report to the “Fuel Bar” for one of the famous $10 protein shakes.
It’s an intense scene that you won’t forget
“Exercising at Barry’s is very SF – it’s super intense and you have a love / hate relationship with it since it’s exhausting, but it brings you to a better state and energizes you,” said Masha Drokova, founder and general partner at Day One Ventures.
Drokova however prefers something more calm to establish a rapport with founders she works with.
“I haven’t taken any meetings at Barry’s but I’ve on occasion brought founders I work with to do yoga with me at Love Story Yoga,” she told Business Insider. “It’s so fantastic for the body and to clear your mind, and this shared experience brings you closer together since you see each other in vulnerable sweaty environment.”
One famous Barry’s disciple is Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, who was spotted working out at San Francisco Barry’s the morning before an Aprile court appearance.
Multiple sources suggested to Business Insider that Keith Rabois, an early PayPal executive who is now a general partner at VC firm Founders Fund, was the inspiration for Edwards’ tweet about Barry’s importance in the venture scene. When reached for comment, Rabois responded to Business Insider that “this is a quite ludicrous idea for a post,” though he declined to comment on Barry’s.
I had to see just how ludicrous Barry’s was for myself. So I suited up with San Francisco’s finest for Barry’s signature Full Body workout, and left with less funding and self-doubt than I started with. Here’s what it was like:
Unlike most gyms, Barry’s does not offer memberships. You can buy a one day pass for $35, or buy a pack of multiple passes.
- John Lamparski / Getty
When I walked in at the ungodly hour of 6 a.m., the front desk attendants were unnaturally peppy and explained how a treadmill worked since I assume I look like I’ve never stepped foot in a gym before today.
- John Lamparski / Getty Images
You can choose whether you want to start on the treadmill or on the floor with weights. The instructor cues both at the same time and participants switch between sections throughout the class. I started the class on the treadmill because a friend told me it’s better to just get it over with. We are no longer friends.
- Mark Boster / Getty Images
The front desk offered ear plugs in a tasteful glass jar, which I pass up because the last time I wore ear plugs I was 7 years old at a demolition derby. I wrongly assumed the music for a 6 a.m. workout class would not reach race car-level decibels.
- Carlos Chavez / Getty Images
The instructor, who I think might have taken the ‘bootcamp’ label a little too seriously, advised our class to grab medium to heavy dumbbells, which come out to 10-pound to 20-pound weights for women. I went for 12-pounders and was proud of my slight athletic superiority over the minimum requirement.
- John Lamparski / Getty Images
The Red Room is named such because of the dark red lights that are the only illumination in the sweat room. That is, unless your instructor wants to quickly flash regular white lights to simulate a strobe light while you’re doing bicep curls. Seeing yourself in fluorescent lights mid-workout will easily humble even the buffest investor.
- David McNew / Getty Images
After 60 minutes, I was honestly surprised that I had survived. I wasn’t close to crushing it, as my instructor so kindly put it as he knuckle-bumped me on the way out, but the after-workout glow had me feeling like I could walk into a conference room and pitch even the most stone-faced investors.
- Anna Webber / Getty Images