EL SEGUNDO, California – Since the COVID-19 pandemic last year, indoor fitness centers across southern California have been completely closed while shopping malls have had to close several times.
In order to keep business going but to keep their customers safe, some gyms – like Los Angeles-based Barry’s – came up with the idea of offering outdoor classes near their facilities. However, one particular necessity caused hiccups in the early planning phase: the power supply.
What you need to know
- Barry’s, a boutique fitness brand founded in 1998 by LA-based trainer Barry Jay, offers the original HIIT (high-intensity interval training) training
- Beverly Center is a Southern California fashion and dining destination that has been part of the LA community for 34 years
- Starting this month, Barry’s is offering its RIDE courses in the Beverly Center parking garage to ensure safe training in the midst of COVID-19
- Given the weather in Southern California, outdoor classes are expected to remain a fixture in cities like LA even after the pandemic
“We knew our customers, especially our LA customers, wanted access to a treadmill, so we looked at spaces that are outdoors but can have power,” said Vicky Land, senior vice president of Brands and communication at Barry’s. “And Beverly Center actually slipped into Barry’s ‘DMs’ on Instagram, and it started this conversation, so to speak, that they have this available space.”
Founded in 1998 by LA instructor Barry Jay, the boutique brand is known for its original HIIT (high-intensity interval training) regiment, which caught the attention of celebrities like Jake Gyllenhaal, Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber pulled.
Jay said he found out early on that HIIT classes are the fastest way to get in shape and built his own studio to keep up with the routine – which hasn’t changed since the company was founded.
Each of the 74 Red Rooms, or stationary studios, around the world closed at some point in the last year as the coronavirus continued to spread, but Barry made an effort to find ways how its members could stay active while they are incarcerated.
Meanwhile, the marketing team behind the landmark Beverly Center – LA’s fashion and hospitality destination that has had to close three times since the COVID-19 hit – creatively developed ways to keep its customers returning to the center. A successful idea became a partnership with Barry’s.
“Beverly Center has been part of the LA community for 34 years, so it’s very important for us to find out what we can do during these times to make our customers feel comfortable and safe at the same time.” Jackie Plaza, Marketing and Sponsorship Director at the Beverly Center. “I said to my team, ‘let’s talk to fitness.’ You know these gyms are in the same position – and the studios – are in the same position as us. We have the space. “
From there, Barry’s and Beverly Center jointly designed and built the open-air studio in the mall’s extensive parking garage, which includes electrical access for Barry’s essential cardio equipment. Classes started on the first floor last summer, but when Beverly Center reopened in July, they had to move. Even so, the partnership has been so successful that the brand is back again this month, offering its new RIDE classes on the second floor of the mall’s garage.
“We’ve had a lot of Barry members or guests, especially when we first opened. Tell us, ‘You’ve got us back to normal. We’re feeling good again,'” said Plaza. “Losing your routine and the only thing that keeps you healthy was really tough in the beginning. I mean, I’m sure you remember how hard it was in March. All the trails were closed. It was a wild time.” “
Barry’s 50-minute RIDE class replaces the brand’s signature Woodway treadmill with an exercise bike and consists of intense cardio for the first half, followed by strenuous work with floor equipment – heavy dumbbells, resistance band, bench – for the remaining time.
From the perspective of the instructor at the top of this RIDE class setup from Barry, fresh air and sunlight can get into the bike arrangement from the back of the parking garage at Beverly Center. (Photo by Benedicte Castillo)
And of course masks are needed by all participants, which as one of the many COVID guidelines remain generously spaced from each other in the “studio”. Employees are provided with signs, masks, gloves and disinfectants to spray everything before and after. Back in their respective offices, both parties – Beverly Center and Barry’s – often communicate with the local health department. An experience that they report was worth it.
“We have an absolutely phenomenal operations team that has its ears open to everything, checking documentation every day and making sure that everything we do complies with local mandates to keep everyone as safe as possible,” said Land. “The health and safety of everyone who comes into the room is our priority, so we stay tuned and respect all of these local mandates as we know they focus on everyone’s best interests.”
Fortunately, coronavirus numbers are in decline today, and Barry is hoping to open more stationary gyms again later this year. They will also start a digital at-home program this year that members can enjoy virtually together. In the meantime, one ray of hope for Barry’s is the exciting future for outdoor workouts across Southern California.
“The outdoors is becoming a staple, especially in warm seasons and in cities like LA,” Land said. “People love the workout, and I think if you’ve given them the opportunity to take classes outdoors in the sun, it’s like you live somewhere like LA. So some of these rooms will extend through the end of this year until next year. Even if a red room reopens, like a stationary studio, there will still be an appetite for outdoor training. “
Meanwhile, Beverly Center continues to activate every month despite the pandemic setbacks. Openings include an exhibition by Marilyn Monroe in June and the Boba OneZo concept. With the mall’s persistence over the past year, one ray of hope the team recognized is a real sense of community that has emerged from the ups and downs.
“At the local level, we’ve actually gotten closer to our tenants,” said Plaza. “People don’t realize it when you go to a mall, but it’s a city. It’s a small city and a small community and people work together there every day. So I feel like we’re really amazing have forged strong, lifelong friendships and lifelong relationships with them because we’re all just kind of out there to find out and do our best. “
Barry’s RIDE courses can currently be registered here and are expected to last until May.