Barry’s Bootcamp Guru Erica Stenz On How To Commit To A Fitness Plan

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Erica Stenz
Erica Stenz

There is no other fitness trainer in San Francisco quite like Erica Stenz. The petit blonde teaches six sold-out classes per week at Barry’s Bootcamp. In her role as the vice president of fitness development for Barry’s Bay Area, she oversees the hiring and training of new instructors. With Barry’s Bootcamp set to open three new locations (Castro, Palo Alto, and Burlingame) in the next six months, Stenz is on the hunt for the region’s best fitness gurus.

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She’s also a role model and mentor to countless local women who are striving to be better versions of themselves. Stenz has such a large following that earlier this year, she published a book, Warrior Women, that details her routine and diet plan. The book was so popular that Stenz launched a podcast with the same name where she discusses anything and everything. Her ability to remember and connect with clients is remarkable. Take one of her classes and she knows almost all 60 people by name. Wildly fierce and incredibly encouraging, Stenz follows a simple plan to make the most of your workout. Here is her guide to getting on the right fitness track and staying there.

Stenz with the co-author of her book Elena Collins
Stenz with the co-author of her book Elena Collins

• Find a partner or a support group. Stenz believes that you need someone to hold you accountable to your fitness goals. “It’s the number one motivator to success,” she says. “People will let themselves down, but they have a harder time letting somebody else down.”

• Combine cardio with strength training. Stenz’s motto is “think strong, not skinny.” She used to do only cardio-based workouts but realized that her body was lacking balance. “I taught spin for eight years, and I had this mindset which I think a lot of women have. We know exercise is important, but we don’t know the power of strength training.”

A class at the Marina location of Barry's Bootcamp where Stenz teaches on Tuesdays and Saturdays
A class at the Marina location of Barry’s Bootcamp where Stenz teaches on Tuesdays and Saturdays

• Don’t starve yourself. With a degree in nutrition, Stenz has a keen understanding of the body, specifically the way a man’s and woman’s bodies differ. “Starving yourself and doing a lot of cardio is going to increase the cortisol in your body,” she explains. “Cortisol helps you store fat, but we want to burn fat. Women’s bodies are not meant to be in the flight or fight stage it can get in when fasting or starving. We need some fat so that we can produce babies.” Moral of the story: Avoid skipping meals in an attempt to lose weight fast.

• Plan your meals. “I’ve done pretty much every diet you can think of,” Stenz says. “The learning from all of the different diets is, it doesn’t matter so much what you do. You could be vegan, Whole30, Paleo. You can do macro. You can do keto. What works is one thing: You plan in advance. When you plan the day before, and you write down what food you will eat, you’re naturally going to eat healthier.”

Stenz, far left, with Barry's team members
Stenz, far left, with Barry’s team members

• Start small and build from there. Don’t be intimidated by programs like Stenz’s Warrior Women 28-day reset. If you can’t commit to the entire thing, start small and build from there. “Pick one thing to focus on. The first week, track your sleep. Are you sleeping seven to nine hours? Start there. Once you’re sleeping seven to nine hours, then you can move on. Are you getting enough water in your day? Let’s focus on sleep and water for week two. When you’re drinking enough water, and you’re sleeping, now, let’s focus on writing down your meals. It doesn’t even matter what those meals are. I don’t care. You can even write down cookies for snack. I want you to get in the habit of writing. Find little steps, and if you can complete these little steps, you will feel your body’s success, and then you’ll eventually get to where you wanna be.”

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• Enjoy the journey. Stenz encourages life changes that are sustainable rather than quick fixes. “Is getting that bikini body going to be what fulfills you? No, probably not. But, if you learn how to sculpt your body and share that process with somebody else to empower them, that is going to fulfill you ultimately.”

All images are courtesy of Erica Stenz and Barry’s Bootcamp. 

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