Gymbox member Gareth Barry will be a familiar face to many – he does at least 20 of our classes a week, so this month, we caught up with him to find out how he does it!
How long have you been a member of Gymbox, and what keeps you coming back?
I’ve been a member for just over three years. I was living up in Cheshire and had been going to a gym there for about 6 months, so when I got a three month contract in London, I wanted to carry on. I googled gyms near where I’d be working, and Gymbox was the closest! I went to have a look around, and pretty much straight away realised it was the right fit for me.
I like the set up at Gymbox. I like the range of classes, and the fact you can do anything from a rave class on a trampette with lasers, the aerial and hoop classes where you’ve got instructors who should be performing in Cirque de Soleil, all the way through to weightlifting, martial arts and the association with CrossFit.
The fact that Gymbox caters for so many different tastes – you can be a complete lunatic and punish yourself buff, all the way down to having a chilled out time with the more holistic stuff – I think that’s amazing.
I also really like the community, both the members and the instructors. People feel comfortable talking to each other and just passing the time of day which, as a Northerner in London, is really odd! It’s the kind of environment where people compliment each other on their progress even when they don’t know each other – they just see you working hard in the gym and recognise how far you’ve come. The friends I’ve made at Gymbox aren’t the type of people I’d normally meet – they have different jobs or are from different backgrounds. They’re a really good bunch of people.
Speaking of the community, I know you were at the first Gymbox party of the year this week – how was it?
It was good! There’s a running joke amongst some of the friends I’ve made at Gymbox about how it’s funny the first time you see people out of gym kit and in normal clothes. There were a lot more dinner jackets and dresses than I was expecting! It was a really good laugh.
What does a normal week at Gymbox look like for you?
I have to say that I don’t think this is normal as such but I do between 20 and 24 classes a week. I like being on the move a lot – and if you keep moving, it doesn’t hurt as much!
I normally do a class or two in the morning, then a few after work, pretty much every day. The morning classes are most important to me, because you can’t take them away from me – if I’m late or work overruns, it doesn’t matter, I’ve gone to the gym that day.
On Tuesday evenings I now do Rowing WOD, Threshold and Trilactic. When [instructor] Firas was introducing Threshold and Trilactic back in the autumn, he asked me and a couple of other people to come and help as ‘bodies’ on the instructor training. Tara, one of the other people there, who I already did rowing with, asked if I wanted to carry on – so we started doing that.
On Fridays I do Rehab – if I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t be able to walk by the weekend! And on Saturday I do classes at the Covent Garden gym – that sets you up quite well for the weekend, as you’re already in central London so you can spend the rest of the day there.
What are your favourite classes?
At the moment, it’s Trapeze. It’s fun to do something that’s so different and isn’t the norm for me, I’m enjoying the challenge of it. RowingWOD is the one I’m best at. Hats off to Cam Nichol who created RowingWOD– the way it’s designed means you see massive improvements from the first class.
I like Prehab and Rehab – if I didn’t book a class, I wouldn’t do that concentrated stretching and mobility work that I really should be doing.
I really enjoy seeing new instructors joining the industry and seeing the support Gymbox gives them. Every single class is different each week, and you can see that the instructors have genuinely thought about what we’re doing that week and how they can make it fun.
What changes have you seen in yourself since you joined?
I’ve dropped around 100lbs since I started going to the gym regularly, most of that at Gymbox – I’ve got to buy a new wardrobe! My nutrition has improved now, I consider food in relation to what I’m doing that day and I’ve massively noticed the difference in my workouts because of it.
I’m acutely aware that at 43, I’m fitter than I was at 23. My general all-round fitness and wellbeing is significantly better, and I’m happier for it. It also means I can consider taking on really demanding goals, and even though they aren’t easy, they’re within reach.
Speaking of which, what are your fitness goals at the moment?
I did 4605 burpees the other year in a 24 hour burpee-athon, so I have to keep finding things that are a bit more crazy. This year I’m doing the CrossFit Murph workout and it’s horrendous – you run a mile, then do 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, 300 squats then another mile, while wearing a weighted vest.
I’ll be doing it with two Gymbox instructors, Kendall and Aaron. I call a lot of the instructors my friends, they’re not just instructors or acquaintances, and that’s really important. Around the gym, I know that I can ask any instructor for advice and I’ll get support. It was the same when I was injured – every single instructor I encountered had no problem helping me find workarounds and they were genuinely supportive. The interaction between staff and members is a credit to Gymbox - it’s part of that really strong community they’ve built.