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