by Emma Inkester
You’re just running on the treadmill, minding your own business, garage beats in the background, when some Mediterranean-looking guy with a really loud microphone runs up behind you and shouts “GIVE ME SPEED – IF YOU CAN WALK OFF THAT TREADMILL YOU HAVE NOT GIVEN ME EVERYTHING!” It’s probably Alex Castro. He’s been a Barry’s trainer in London since October, he’s just started a new regular Wednesday early morning slot, and the word on the street is people can’t get enough of his motivational style and innovative results-oriented classes.
Alex first started at Barry’s as a client, having followed the journey of the franchise over from America, and explains that this London institution has completely altered not only his physique but also his outlook on training. “When I started coming to Barry’s I loved the concept and my physique totally changed: I slimmed down and improved my fitness and endurance. But more importantly, becoming a trainer here gave me the confidence and motivation to push to improve here and in every other area of my career. Not to mention my energy levels rocketed and I had more stamina for life in general. That’s why I’m so passionate about using the Barry’s method to help clients- I’ve experienced the benefits and results personally and can tell them honestly that it works. I still do at least three classes a week myself.”
Castro has come a long way from the cheeky North London school boy who captained the basketball, rugby and athletics teams. As a semi pro basketballer training in the USA and Barcelona, injury changed Alex’s direction towards personal training and the fitness industry. He built a solid base of experience with a sports science diploma, gym management and reformer pilates qualifications, so you’re in good hands with this one.
If you’re a newbie wondering where to start Alex recommends legs day, full body and abs for girls; and arms, chest/back and full body days for boys. But he’d encourage you to mix it up and see what works for you. [Editor’s note: Barry’s recommends that men should stop skipping legs day and women should stop skipping chest day.] “Barry’s has proven that it is possible to train every day and still get a balance in your workouts, but rest is key too.” As is food – Castro advocates a healthy but sensible approach to nutrition, with lots of fresh vegetables and good quality protein. “There’s no point putting something in your body if you don’t enjoy it, but there’s even less point eating something that makes you feel like rubbish. I’m half Greek and half Spanish so in my house you can’t escape food, but it’s good, healthy, nutritious food and those are the important qualities to focus on.” Oh, and he’s allegedly a “BBQ genius”: join the queue for an invite!
Those who attend Barry’s classes come for the results, and keep coming for the positive and motivational atmosphere they encounter the moment they walk in. Alex puts this down to the supportive environment and passion of everyone who works there. “It’s hard not to love your job when everyone is smiling. No one is ever jealous of anyone else, they’re just happy to share in everyone’s success. It really is one big family – everyone has the same mindset and positive goals, and every single person who walks in the door is accepted for who they are.”
Alex has also taught in the New York branch of Barry’s so has an interesting insight into the similarities and differences between the franchises. He was floored (pun intended) by the creativity of the body weight exercises in the US and the universal quality of the trainers, but maintains that London sets the bar high, and that the treadmill rounds may even be harder on this side of the pond: “Maybe a bit too tough.” We’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions on that one…
Find your way to Castro’s heart with a Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Fuel Bar shake and a family-size chocolate bar (Sundays only please, chick flick optional), but come near him with a “#selfie” at your own peril. “Be happy with who you are and enjoy your life, don’t look to the online world for attention and confidence – turn the camera around, the world is beautiful!”
But whether you’re a dreaded selfie-enthusiast or not, you can be sure this guy is taking no prisoners. Come to class expecting to work. Hard. Compound muscle work is the order of the day – no isolated bicep curls or casual squatting to be seen here. You’ll find yourself squatting and chestpressing simultaneously; planking, rowing and burpee’ing until your head spins. Then building endurance on the treadmill rounds with tough inclines, sprints and active jogging recoveries. And you’ll be laughing at some stellar one-liners at the same time.
As one bootcamper in the know so aptly puts it, “you know when you’ve been Castro’d.” Find out for yourself; catch him tearing up the studio and looking dashing in those red lights regularly. You won’t regret it, you’ll see great results and you’ll have a whole lot of fun doing it.
P.S. Alex first met fellow Barry’s trainer and friend Faisal “Mr PMA” Abdalla when they were in a Disney film together. One of the top 5 things you didn’t expect to read about those two?
Emma Inkester is a full-time lawyer, part-time fitness junkie and blogger. She is passionate about sharing the journey to a healthy and happy lifestyle with others, and would love to hear from you with comments, questions and article requests. She can also be found on Twitter: @emmaink