We keep hearing about great new places to get an awesome workout in Nashville. We sent three workout queens, Rowanne McKnight, Edith Kirkland and Besty Cunagin, to check out the differences between two new places that had piqued our interest, Iron Tribe Fitness and Barry’s Bootcamp. These ladies are huge runners, each having completed multiple marathons, triathlons and even an ultra marathon. But, they also enjoy yoga classes, weight training and a barre class here and there, too. Today, they weigh in (did we really just say that?!) on their experience:


Our field research began in October, when Edith, Betsy and I were in the last phases of training for a marathon. This seemed perfect, since after races, we have found that some post-race blues usually set in. You don’t feel like running, but you can’t really figure out what else to do without a goal on the horizon.

Our first stop was the newly opened Iron Tribe Fitness in Maryland Farms. Iron Tribe Fitness (ITF) is a CrossFit concept gym with classes lasting 45 minutes. The average workout of the day (WOD) is 20 minutes – short in duration, but high in intensity. In addition, they also promote a version of The Paleo Diet called Whole9. Complete meals from Innerfire Grill and snacks from Sweat Angel Bakery can be bought at the gym for those (all) of us who need convenience. Everyone participates in an introductory 101 class series – 4 weeks of classes, 3 days a week. Richard Marten (franchise owner) and Mary Catherine Flemming are incredibly welcoming and genuinely interested in helping you be your best. Richard’s clear instruction on the proper form for every movement insures that the chance of injury will be low and one will achieve maximum benefit from the effort. Best of all, their enthusiasm is infectious!

Franchise owner Richard Marten demonstrating the push-press to our 101 class – this PVC pipe is quite a bit lighter than the dumbbells used during the demo!


Lots of laughs for everyone in the tribe.

We were excited, sort of. Paleo was about to eliminate favorite carbs, grains and dairy from our diet and we were initially discouraged by the length of the 101. It just seemed so long… Could we just do an abbreviated class for journalistic purposes? We were told no. We thought that if we could practically run to Murfreesboro, albeit with lots of Gatorade and snack stops, surely we could handle these workouts. Ah, wrong again! We stopped whining, started getting new sore muscles and were easily converted to ITF’s playground of barbells and gymnastics rings and movements like the split jerk, clean and jerk and box jump. We loved our 101 group, aka “tribe,” and enjoyed the flexibility to go to a morning or evening 101 when our schedule did not work for our 12:15 pm slot. We also agreed that we all experienced increased energy and stamina on the Paleo/Whole 9 plan. No solid numbers to share since we shun scales, but we felt like jeans did fit better!

Here’s our friend Kay doing a back squat. We had to keep adding weight and repeating the squat until we reached our maximum capacity, or fell over… Whichever came first!


From Iron Tribe… Edith and Rowanne have signed up for 4 more months! This time, they will have stats for the beginning and end results.


Edith, Rowanne and Betsy (from left to right) sporting black ITF t-shirts, along with StyleBlueprint friend and running buddy Kay Goodrum (in gray t-shirt).

We went back for a “real” class and it was real “hard,” and we can’t wait to go back. WOD up!

Next stop, Barry’s Bootcamp.   

Barry’s Bootcamp has been in existence since 1998, but finally made it to Nashville about a year ago…I mean – come on: Southern California, New York, Norway, London, and NASHVILLE!! Who wouldn’t want to try “The Best Workout in the World” and the gym Beyonce uses for a couple of weeks to get ready for a photo shoot! Seriously? We were game. 2 weeks and 6 classes later, I AM Beyonce!! This workout is not for the faint of heart, but Antonio Compton, the franchise owner, (and his dog Grady) are adorable. He is motivating and truly wants to help people get in shape. He welcomed us “Style Blueprint Girls” and explained that the program is good for anyone, so we jumped right in feeling a bit cocky. (We are “worker-outers,” after all.) Uh, hello. It is HARD!!! The classes are like an exercise RAVE – incredibly loud, thumping music in the dark with red lights shooting down on you and fans blowing in strategic places.

Owner, Antonio Compton, of Barry’s Nashville 

We are all DYING here and Liza shows up to photograph us!

Floor exercises…

You begin on a state of the art, super fancy treadmill and run for about 10 minutes with pace and incline increasing and decreasing the whole time. On our first day, we were told to set the pace to 10. I didn’t even know treadmills could go that fast, and I just prayed I wouldn’t fall off and be sent to the ER. Then, we hit the floor to do strength work – with a little cardio thrown in for fun. At one point on Abs day (did I mention that each day works a different body part?), I looked down the line of 15 or so very fit, beautiful, young, hip people (plus us 40-somethings), and not one of us was accomplishing the crazy form of sit-up that our instructor was asking us to do! Clearly, exhaustion had set in for all of us… We left every class looking like we’d just jumped out of a swimming pool!


Barry’s Bootcamp is impressive. I understand all the hype now, and it will get you in shape. Period. If you are a beginner, make sure you talk to Antonio first about how to take it down a notch. There is not a lot of instruction or attention to form, so be careful. But because the weights are not super heavy, the likelihood for injury is pretty low.  We all agreed that it’d be a great jump-start for anyone needing to get back on an exercise program or for anyone who is happy with her workouts but wants to throw in something extra. Oh, and don’t forget to pre-order a delicious smoothie to have, ready and waiting for you, at the end of class!

For Roxanne. That would be Rowanne. Oh, well. The smoothie is a much deserved post-workout treat.


The babes of Barry’s Bootcamp–do we look like the promo poster?


I loved doing these workouts! Here’s how I’d boil down the basic differences between both programs:

Iron Tribe Fitness is CrossFit at its best! I’m a runner used to moderate intensity for longer durations, so ITF was a
new approach to fitness for me – high intensity, interval training for short durations (meaning like 10
minutes). I thought how can I be sore after only “working out” for 10 minutes, but when done correctly,
this type of workout boosts your metabolism to burn more calories, improves your aerobic capacity and
adds a ton of variety to your workout. Iron Tribe is not just about attending a class, it about joining a team. The
team mentality fosters accountability, confidence and a sense of camaraderie that makes working out
fun! ITF simultaneously appeals to both novice and elite athletes (“everyone is an athlete who walks
in the door of Iron Tribe”), as WOD movements are scaled to everyone’s fitness level. Unlike most new
programs that lose their appeal after the “newness” wears off, ITF leaves you wanting more.

Barry’s Bootcamp is hard – period. It’s on the other end of the spectrum when it comes to instruction; there’s little
to none. But it’s easy to pick up the movements. Once the lights go down, the music goes up and you
don’t stop for 1 hour. And between the environment and the different workouts, there’s no opportunity for boredom or the fidgetiness I’ve sometimes experienced working out indoors. The “not yo average joe” smoothie waiting for me at the end of every grueling hour was motivation enough to drive to the Gulch, too. You will thank yourself for committing to Barry’s – it will get you in shape. And you will sweat, really sweat, so be prepared!


Thanks, ladies! For more information about Iron Tribe Fitness, visit their website: http://irontribefitness.com. For more on Barry’s Bootcamp, visit their website, as well: www.barrysbootcamp.com.


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