"I do believe that at the core, people feel something different about barry's - because it is different," Joey Gonzalez, CEO of Barry's Bootcamp said as we sat surrounded by the glass walls of his West Hollywood office, talking about the future of the company.


Just down the street, you'll find where Barry Jay created the first Barry's Bootcamp with two partners in 1998. When the lore of the treadmill-slash-weightlifting concept spread across Hollywood, drawing in celebrity clients, Jay just wanted clients to be on time, see results and have a an unforgettable time in the process.


Gonzalez started at Barry's Bootcamp as a client and was soon helping to fund its growth as a partner, he said. He was named CEO in 2015 after serving as the company's COO for more than nine years. Benefitting from slow and controlled growth before, during and after the studio fitness boom, Barry's was able to find its tribe, voice and culture.


That thoughtful growth led to an investment by North Castle Partners in 2015, which yielded - you guessed it, more growth - to bring Barry's to more consumers across the world. With all of that expansion, one thing is top of mind for Gonzalez: culture.


"My biggest fear is always - as we scale - maintaining the culture of the company, which is what makes it what it is," he said, reminding me quickly that the word "fear," was really just a word. "It's not that I'm scared - it's just top of mind, which I hope is an indication that it will work."


And the lack of fear that Gonzalez has is palpable. In the episode, I jokingly refer to him as "terrifyingly calm," but the more I think about it, the more I really meant it. He is the eye of the storm that is studio fitness, staying just still enough to understand clearly what's happening around him and only reacting when it makes sense for the culture, strategy and clients of the company.


The company, he said, is committed to innovation, but it's also committed to the standards of a workout that shows true results. That's the challenge in being first - it's an act of balancing emerging competition, clients who were with you at the beginning and new standards in the industry.


"When you are an original, it's really difficult to quantify what makes it that way. It's hard to articulate what it is people experience," he said. "It's a lifestyle, it's a workout, it's like church to some people. It's such a meaningful thing ... you have to be authentic."




Listen now to this episode of #WeGotGoals featuring Joey Gonzalez and find yourself sweating just thinking about all the work that goes into these workouts.




This episode produced by Cindy Kuzma and is another thing that's better with friends. So share this episode with yours and leave us a rating and a review on Apple Podcasts if you love it as much as we do.


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Transcript





JAC:            Welcome to #WeGotGoals, a podcast by aSweatLife.com on which we talked to high achievers about their goals. I'm Jeana Anderson Cohen and with me I have Maggie Umberger and Cindy Kuzma.


MU: Good morning Jeana.


JAC: Good morning Maggie.


MU: You spoke with Joey Gonzalez the CEO of Barrys Bootcamp.


JAC: I sure did. Joey Gonzalez is the CEO of Barry's Bootcamp, a growing fitness brand that has arms and legs all over the world at this point. But he actually started as a customer of Barry's Bootcamp years ago. Joey will be the first to remind you that Barry's Bootcamp was the original when it comes to studio fitness because they were. Barry, who started Barry's Bootcamp, had a dream and an idea that he could get people fitter and give them great results through running and weightlifting. Joey now has sort of the burden and the honor of carrying that legacy forward.


CK: And he doesn't take It lightly which you can tell. He has a passion for the brand and the business and what I loved was that he still teaches. He had worked at the front desk that morning like he hasn't lost touch with the actual clientele which I think sounds like has really enabled him to be focused on continuous improvement and on that customer experience. Is that kind of what you got out of it too?


JAC:            Definitely. Joey goes to I think almost every single studio opening which wasn't that much of a feat maybe three years ago but these days they're opening a new studio sometimes monthly sometimes weekly they open. I think Atlanta and Dallas in the same week. So it's pretty incredible to watch him in this grueling business schedule while also managing a team in LA while also managing a family with two kids under two.


MU:            He talks a little bit about taking on an investor recently so that they can continue to grow at this rate but also still maintain the Barry's brand. Can you talk a little bit about that?


JAC:            They recently took on investment from North Castle Partners. And what's interesting about this investment is that North Castle invest in predominantly fitness brands. They've helped to take Equinox from a couple of locations to many and they've worked with a number of other brands that you know in love in the fitness space. I had the chance to hear one of the partners from North Castle speak about why they invested in Barry's Bootcamp specifically and they chose Barrys because it had scalability in many markets. They had been successful in more places than just West Hollywood where they started. They also had sort of a community that knew it and loved it and would follow it and wear the brand and drink this smoothies and fall in love with their fitness instructors on Instagram. So the investment made sense to the group. But on the Barry's end taking on an investment from Joey's perspective was the right thing to do because it helped them grow. But it also was the right group to invest in them because they allowed them to grow the way that they had always grown, authentically true to Barry's Bootcamp


MU: In addition to staying true to what Barry's is. Joey has it in his mind to constantly innovate. He talks about that being really key in staying a top player right?


JAC:            Yes. They are always looking to innovate but they're also always looking to stay true to the two things that have helped them be successful. They run and they weight lift. Those are the two functions of the classes and those are the two things that help them bring success to their clients within that format, they innovate in interesting ways--foam rolling deep myofascial release. Bringing in a couple of different tools to their classrooms but it doesn't sound like anything is ever  going to happen to the treadmills in those classrooms. And Joey is incredibly focused and terrifyingly calm. So I think that his focus and his ability to weather storms and stay calm regardless of the trends that are maybe fluttering around him will help Barry's Bootcamp really stay successful in a cluttered marketplace


CK: Incredibly focused and terrifyingly calm. I love that. Here is Jeana with Joey.

JAC: First and foremost. Kate please introduce yourself.


JG:       Sure, I'm Joey Gonzales, CEO of Barry's Bootcamp.


JAC:      Joey, you haven't always been the CEO of Barry's Bootcamp. You sort of started as an instructor and worked your way up isn't that right?


JG:            I started as a customer and fell in love with the workout and the brand and then became an instructor next. And then I moved into like a general manager position and then eventually became a partner and I was like the COO for many many years. I moved into a CEO position in 2015. So I have really seen the business from a lot of different angles


JAC: All angles. And I read somewhere that you still hope behind the front desk here and there? Are you still able to do that?


JG:            I'm 100 percent. I did it this morning. My employees think it's so funny because I still love like answering the phones. I still teach once a week as well. So I try to put on as many hats as possible.


JAC:            So what is a goal, Joey Gonzalez, that

you have accomplished? And how did you get there?


JG:         So professionally I would say bringing Barry's to as many places as possible was a goal I set

12 15 years ago. And I think how I got there was, two things come to mind. Number one choosing the right people. Which is like, Barry's is a human capital business and the people are the reason why the clients show up and being a good judge of character is imperative in my business. And so I just happened to select the most incredible people to support me in the business and that's evident I think no matter where--take Chicago for example you've been like just such an incredible team. So I would say first and foremost the people that I've picked. And then second just never never assuming that like we know it all and always being willing to learn and innovate and change the business like when it needs to change and add things to it maybe that didn't exist. Barry's was around before any of the other boutique fitness concepts and it was just like a tiny little hole in the wall with a bathroom built into the studio.


And like almost no lobby and you know there has never been a moment where we've hesitated from evolving and growing and expanding and whether that is like building out luxurious locker rooms and showers or you know adding towel service building a whole separate business called Fuel Bar, right that

has its own P&L and is labor intensive and has product that expires. Yeah, so just never being afraid to like test things innovate and be one of the, I  think that is how you can sort of identify yourself as being a leader in the industry.


JAC: So over the years you've had help from people within your team with different skill sets than you as well as outside investors. So he talked about what happened when you took on investment and how you were able to grow from there.


JG:         So Barry's was grown exclusively from investments from myself and my three partners prior to 2015. And I think that's one of the things that makes it so magical is like the amount of time we had to build a very authentic community.


And I think there's a huge contrast between that and how a lot of other boutique fitness places have grown. Right. Which is like they're five years old and they have 30 locations already and there's definitely nothing wrong with that. But there's just like a brand narrative and like stickiness with consumers that happens I think when you are 20 years old and you've taken the time in a slow way to connect with your people. In 2015  we did a process to raise money and take on private equity partners and ended up selecting North Castle and they're solely focused on fitness, wellness. They helped take Equinox from you know single digit studio to the like in the 40s and are the most incredible group of guys and girls like that they're just so smart so collaborative and so sensitive so they made an investment in the company and we're actually just now starting to see you know with our most recent announcement a lot of studios coming down the pipeline. Five in studios in the next three months which we've never done before. Yeah. So that's the story of taking on investors for the first time.


JAC:            So a lot of news in the past couple of years. Nobody is sleeping around here, obviously.

So as you're looking forward obviously you're opening a lot of new studios. What is a big goal that you want to accomplish with Barry's Bootcamp, with the company, and how are you going toget there?


JG:            So my biggest fear is always as we scale maintaining the culture of the company which is what makes it what it is today. And Barry's is the type of place or at least it always has been the type of place where when people come to work they don't feel like they're working. And that's in part because of how they feel about one another. And of course how passionately they feel about the brand. And so. My goal is in opening so many new markets and in infilling in existing locations to be able to preserve all of the things that made us what we are today and the way to go about getting there is to evaluate and define our values which we're currently going through right now we're doing a lot of exercises that are like value driven.


And then also for me personally as the CEO having touch points and like traveling to these places and being in the studio as much as I possibly can because I do think that makes a difference to people having a relationship with somebody you know that is you know the visionary if you will of the company and making decisions ultimately about the future of the company. It's meaningful to people right. And super meaningful to me to be able to see these places in action. So maintaining the culture as we scale is my biggest goal.


JAC:         Yeah I think you're also sort of nervous about that when you were taking it outside that was that the fear in growth, was losing the culture?


JG:        I don't think I'm-- I am not very driven or controlled by fear. So I'm not that I'm, like,

scared. It's just top of mind, right, and it's a priority. And it's like something that I focus a lot on which I hope is an indication that it will work. right? Because if I was just saying we're going to scale and everything is going to be great and I wasn't thinking about how important the culture is. Then we'd have our problem right.


JAC: In the next little bit you'll be maintaining culture as you open new locations. Anything else you're thinking about doing within Barry's?


Yeah so we in a couple locations like River North and Venice we signed on extra square footage to do stretch lounges and offer some like ancillary class options that we've never done before and this is in part due to my commitment to continuing to innovate. And so you know we're we're going to have like my myofascial release and just some really great stuff that compliments the workout.


JAC:         Over the years I have read that it's been challenging for Barry's specifically because you were the first to exist in a world with all these competitors who are trying to catch you--it's just the nature of the beast. How do you how do you think you've been able to really stay at the top of all that? Because Barry's Bootcamp is  one of the best workouts in the world. The best workout in the world.


JG:         I was actually thinking about this today in class how when you are an original. It's really difficult to like quantify like what makes it that way. it's hard to articulate what it is people experience. But what I can say is that Barry's was around and created by a fitness professional who was genuinely trying to help people get the best workout possible. Barry Jay himself is like the least money motivated person on earth and what we have today is you know. capitalist society like everybody trying to make money off of this emerging thing called boutique fitness. And I don't know if consumers can smell that necessarily in that they walk into studios and they feel like oh I am supposed to buy these things. But like, I do believe that at the core people feel something different about Barry's because it is different, right. And that's something that like Barry passed on to me and when I did my transaction with North Castle one of the first things I said to them is like you know I am not someone who is driven by the bottom line. And they said that's why we think you're the perfect leader to take us to the next level because it's a lifestyle. It's a workout. It's like church to some people it's just like  such a meaningful thing to people that you have to be authentic. Right. You have to create a space and a team that genuinely want people to have fun and feel great.


JAC:         That permeates through everything here really the fun, creativity. And how do you continue to innovate when it comes to fitness? Because you've got this tried and true method. The originators of Tread & Shred. How do you continue to push people to do bigger better things within that Barry's format?


JG:         I think we are always testing things. We just launched like a mace class in New York City which is I don't know if you're familiar with the mace equipment. And like I said earlier like the stretch lounges that were experimenting with so one thing that has always been true of Barry's is that we have a very back to basics mentality. And so there there isn't anything that we've seen works quite as well as running and lifting. Right. And so. While we experiment with different types of programs within those parameters that will always be our baseline.


JAC: Anything else that you're excited about within the parameters of Barry's or outside of it? Any other goals you're setting personally? What's personal?


JG:         I think my goal personally, is to, for it to a certain extent I think this is like fantasy but to somehow be able to find a balance in life.


JAC: So you have a new daughter or new or a newer daughter.


JG: I have two under two. So I have a daughter who's 20 months and a son who's four months


JAC: So since I've met you you've had  another child. Congratulations.


JG:         And yeah for me like currently I feel like there is no such thing as balance there's just disappointing somebody every morning, which is not the best way to live. But it's just it's I think most people who are listening can relate to the fact that like it it's when you are somebody who is tenacious and has a lot of like objectives and a lot of people who depend on you. It's a stressful situation. And so you always just want to make everybody happy and feel supported and that can be really challenging. So that's like an ongoing goal that I have that will never be accomplished.


JAC: That's life, that's life. Here you have, these people are your family too and they depend on you like a parent because you have to.


JG:            Oh I've been Papa to people already for like 10 years that's been my nickname. So like I have so many children it's not it's not funny. But you know it's a role that I love and I have always been even when I was just a kid like somebody who people would turn to and that friend that would like somehow play the psychologist and you know it's it's fun for me and I obviously get something out of it. But it's just hard to like cut yourself into a thousand pieces.


JAC:          I heard you say  you aren't money motivated and you're not fear motivated. Good. What's sort of the thing that drives you.


JG:         I'm super results driven which is probably what attracted me to Barry's in the first place. Just like very efficient and results driven and then extremely relationship driven. So I don't like to waste time on things that don't work. And I can deal with any situation as long as I'm with the right people.


JAC:            And how can you teach these things to people or those just intrinsic.


JG:         I don't know that's a great question. Can you teach people how to be results driven and relationship driven? Definitely not the latter. I think like either you like--the way that people interact with one another is something that is I feel like for the most part set in stone. Unless you go through like a lot of therapy to try to figure it out. And there are so many nuances to that. Right. Like I am highly tolerant. So like I can get along with like a wide range of people but I have a lot of friends that aren't right. Their tolerance is like super narrow. So I always see that how interesting that is when it plays out in life.


I know it's a good question. I don't know if you can teach people I've seen a lot of people at least in the exercise format become very  results because they will do so many other things whether it's like a personal trainer or a spinning gym or whatever it is they're doing and then they'll come to Barry's and like their whole body will change. And I've kind of seen people go through this metamorphosis where they realize that anything's possible and that the results aren't just things they can think about but they're things that they can get right. And whether it's Barry's or some other thing that teaches people that I have seen that switch flip before.


JAC:         I ask because those two trains I think if you look at this industry people who are really successful seem to have those things. They're result oriented and they're relationship oriented--that seems to make people really dangerous. That's interesting, because  here you are. The most dangerous man in fitness. I think we should end it wit that. Most dangerous man in fitness, Joey Gonzalez. Setting goals, taking names.


JG: Look out people, I'm coming for you.


JAC:            Thank you for joining us.


CK:         This podcast is produced by me. Cindy Kuzma and it's another thing that's better with friends. So please share it with yours. You can subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. And while you're at it please leave us a rating or a review. Special thanks to J. Mano for our theme music, to our guest this week Joey Gonzalez, and to the team at Tech Nexus for the recording studio and technical assistance.



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