Almost 20 years ago, Joey Gonzalez begrudgingly walked into his first class at his local Los Angeles Barry’s fitness studio. “It was very nerve-wracking and a real barrier of entry because I thought it would be too hard,” he says. But after leaving the class, his heart was racing for a different reason: “I had the best time even though I wasn’t the fastest or the strongest. I just loved the feeling of being surrounded by like-minded people who were warm and friendly.”
Gonzalez returned again and again, working his way up from client to instructor to studio manager. He soon became so personally invested in Barry’s that he decided to invest his own money into the company and open a few studios.
Now Gonzalez is the global CEO of Barry’s and oversees 85 locations across 14 countries.
“I think a lot of brands and businesses have a challenging time getting to the minds of consumers, but Barry’s is not one of them,” he says. “I can’t take credit for that. A lot of people at a leadership level here all have this passion for the brand. We’ve all had our lives transformed by Barry’s.”
For the uninitiated, a typical class at Barry’s (it dropped the “Bootcamp” in 2020) consists of high-intensity interval cardio and strength training. But Gonzalez stresses that despite its original militant image, the experience is now “much more pleasant.”
“Everything has been rebranded,” he says. “The instructors are teaching differently. And we really pay close attention to first-timers to dispel all the myths. We always tell you to not be a hero and go at your own pace. But you can still measure your success and progress.”
Gonzalez speaks firsthand: He still takes three to five classes a week and teaches a few times a month in various locations. Before starting out his day in Los Angeles, he detailed his seven workout musts for CNN Underscored.
Don’t underestimate this pair of cushioned socks. “You can walk around in them and it looks really cute with a great pair of shoes, and if you throw on running shoes and do 8 miles, you’re going to be comfortable,” Gonzalez says. Each pair is made of 92% nylon and 8% spandex to target compression and reduce the risk of blisters. (There’s no pesky seam in the toe either.)
“I really don’t like fabric crossing my knee,” Gonzalez says. That’s why he goes for these lightweight and lined 5-inch athletic shorts. The sweat-wicking apparel features a flexible knit waistband that feels soft next to the skin and zipper phone pockets on both hips to prevent bounce. And during weight lifting, he adds, “You can actually see your musculature on your legs and quads.”
Gonzalez singles out this relaxed fit tank, which is “tight and loose in the right places.” Sweat-wicking and quick-drying, it also features “No-Stink Zinc” technology to inhibit the growth of odor-causing bacteria. Plus, Gonzalez raves about the open cut on the back: “A lot of men’s tanks cover you up, but here you can see the muscles. I’m not the most modest, just being honest!”
During a recent trip to Mexico, Gonzalez toted this three-piece elastic band set that includes a resistance band (for arms), booty band (for ankles) and mini band (for thighs). “They’re easy to travel with because they’re so light,” he says. Each one uses body tension to work a different muscle group to help improve strength and agility — with less chance of injury compared to free weights.
“I’m pretty devoted to running shoe brands that have dedicated their existence to running,” Gonzalez says. Mizuno? Yup. Saucony? Definitely. He’s also a fan of his black Brooks Running sneakers, which are designed to be comfortable and breathable with its Creel Warp mesh fabric and midsole cushioning.
Because sometimes old-school crunches just won’t do. “This is one of my favorite ways to do my abs because you’re working your chest, shoulders, triceps and more,” he says. “You basically just go on your knees, hold the handles and extend out like you’re Superman.” (This compact wheel has rubber handles for an easy grip.) Gonzalez recommends doing three sets of 20 rollouts per session: “You’re going to feel it the next day!”
“They’re pretty awesome,” Gonzalez says of his ultra-modern frames. Aside from providing sun protection, these shades come equipped with a state-of-the-art audio system and a mic. You can also slide your fingers along the right temple to adjust the volume and double-tap to access your phone’s voice assistant. Plus, a rechargeable battery provides up to five and a half hours of playtime.