I was burnt out. Long hours at the office, a monotonous workout regimen at the gym and bad eating habits finally led to a psychological crash last month right after Labor Day. I had a promotional film screening at the Bridge in West L.A. and while I was helping run it, all I could think about was how I had to get up and meet my trainer for a 6 a.m. training session (which I had been running late to all summer long). I ended up calling him on my way home from the screening and said that I needed a break and planned on taking off two months.

In addition to my training schedule, I basically dropped all other regular monthly appointments and embarked on a month of sleeping longer hours and trying to eat a more sensible diet. Not even thinking of starting to work out [change “starting to work out “ to “working out”] again, I stumbled upon a Barry's Bootcamp training session in West Hollywood next door to a kid's gym where I was having my son's two-year-old birthday party.

I glanced inside Barry's Gym and was immediately captivated by the intensity of the workouts that were going on. There must have been 30 people in there, dripping buckets of sweat during a hardcore workout, dance music blasting above their heads. I decided right then and there that this was going to be the place for me to start my journey of getting myself back into so-called “fighting shape.” That is, back to my old college day's weight of 170 pounds.

Through my years in L.A., I have dropped and gained a considerable amount of weight from my lowest point of 135 pounds in 1992 (as an out of work actor) to the height of my weight at 215 pounds in 2004 (as a new father). I'm currently at 200 pounds with an unhealthy gut and an unremarkable double chin.

Over the next eight weeks, I'm going to dedicate myself to losing 25 pounds, eating right and then figuring out a way to keep it off once I hit my goal. And, Barry's Bootcamp is going to help me along the way.

I'm going to be a part of Barry's Academy I, a five-day-a-week, intense training session focusing on endurance and working out targeted body parts daily. You will be part of my journey.

I'll be reporting my progress weekly in Campus Circle . The ups and downs of it all; the temptations I'll be up against both at restaurants and at home. For every pound I lose, Campus Circle will donate $100 to the Los Angeles Mission on Dec. 1.  

If you want to match our contributions for the holidays, drop me an e-mail and I'll let you know what you need to do. In the meantime, the quest begins. Here is my first report:

Sunday, October 1, 2006 – Day 1

I snuck out of the house this morning telling my wife I was going to the office to get some work done, but instead rushed off to Barry's Boot Camp for an 8:30 a.m. training session. I got there early and signed up for a test class.  

I had to fill out paperwork and sign an indemnification form that said Barry's is not responsible if I have a heart attack and die during the session. Those are pretty intimidating words to read when you're less than a month away from turning 40 and your newly grown beard is peppered with gray hair. After signing, I warmed up on the treadmill.  

The inside of the gym is dimly lit with mirrors throughout the room. It is not a big space but just large enough to accomplish the trainer's goal of staying close and personal to his or her students. The first half of the class was dedicated to treadmill training using a variety of incline and speed settings for 30 minutes.

I was winded within the first 10 minutes and was itching all over. It was the kind of itch where sweat starts mixing with your body hair while you're in motion because your body isn't used to it. However, around the 20-minute mark I started feeling pretty good.  

I was keeping up the best I could and believed that I could actually finish this out. The music and watching yourself running in the mirror was certainly helpful. I felt I was going to make it through the session feeling good. Little did I know.

Little did I know, we went right into weight training with dumbbells and oversized rubber training-bands after the cardio session. I've never trained with bands before but liked how they felt while working my muscles. We did a variety of exercises with weights and the bands for our abs, quads, shoulders, triceps and biceps. It was exhausting. I had to stop a bunch of times and my technique for some of the exercises was not up to par.

The students in the class were not first-timers and were in great shape. The girls were working out hard and many of the guys basically whipped off their shirts while they were training. I was tempted, but seeing my gut busting out through my shirt, I decided to wait on that for a bit.  

Finally, the class came to a close and I was drenched in sweat and exhausted. But as I sit here in my office writing this column, I feel pretty good and am looking forward to tomorrow. Check in with me next week to see my progress. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop me an e-mail. —Sean Bello

Check out Barry's Bootcamp online at www.barrysbootcamp.com and visit the Los Angeles Mission at www.losangelesmission.org .

E-mail Sean at sean.bello@campuscircle.net