It was pretty amazing when we direct messaged the CEO of Barry’s Bootcamp Joey Gonzalez on Instagram in April and Joey Gonzalez himself answered back. One of the things that is important for the features we do is that they highlight people who are inspiring successful and also kind. So it was no surprise when our time with Joey exceeded our expectations while learning more about Barry’s Bootcamp as the brand celebrates 20 years. Read on for our full interview with the CEO of the global fitness brand.
How was Barry’s Bootcamp Brand DNA changed and stayed the same over the last 20 years?
It took me two years to go to Barry’s. So many people went and they were all in such good shape. I had this idea of what it was, and what people would expect of me when I showed up. I think that is why I made such a commitment to dispelling that myth once I became apart of the leadership team. I was just so eager to help people like myself get through the door and not take years to do it. When I first started doing Barry’s in 2002 there wasn’t an element of humility. It was a different time, it was a very cliched boot camp experience. I have made efforts over the past 15 years to soften that touch. As you have experienced first hand it is a very welcoming environment. The instructors are highly encouraged to leave people feeling good. It the past people used to say; ’you can do anything for 30 seconds’ or ‘why aren’t you running faster than that?’ Today is very different. The approach is more in line with ‘we are so glad you showed up’ and ‘everybody has bad days’. It is just a different vibe, there is friendlier and more approachable energy in the studio. We have invested a lot in locking down what our values are and what our mission and vision is. These touch points help provide direction to all our employees. The mission of Barry’s is that we inspire people to work hard, have fun, find your strength and be your best. Those are top of mind for every employee on a daily basis. The vision has changed from the early 2000’s when we were just a West Hollywood gym. Now we are global and our vision today is to transform lives worldwide. If you ask anybody what they love about working at Barry’s, 9 out of 10 people wills they feel lucky to be a part of such a transformational experience.
MM: What makes Joey Gonzalez Human?
JG: I’m very human. I make a ton of mistakes. I am very vocal about it. I am extremely affectionate with my children and my employees. I have a lot of very close friendships and relationships, I am just a relationship driven guy. My children probably make me the most relatable from a public perception standpoint. I totally soften up around them, especially my daughter.
MM: To those wondering about your workout/life balance, what would you share about that thing we all seek in life called balance?
JG: Whenever I hear the word balance, I automatically think about how for me and my life its about integration. Some of my best friends are some of the people I work with. My weekends are filled with social activities that include Barry’s employees. It is totally blurred lines for me between my social, professional and family life. That’s how I achieve balance is that I have a fully integrated life. I’ve chosen a career path and the people that I surround my- self with that luckily it all overlaps. It’s totally effortless.
MM: Do you ever find a moment where you stop and reflect on how you got to this place in your life?
JG: Yeah, oh yeah. I am very struck with humility. I feel like the luckiest man on earth. I have felt that way all my life not just because
I am a CEO and somebody that is successful. I think that is just something you feel or you don’t. In terms of having time and space for myself I do meditation every morning, sometimes it falls in the afternoon or night. I’ll do 10 to 20 minutes and recently I have been using this app called Headspace. It’s really great because it helps with the clarity of the mind and anxiety. That is usually my time to have that moment of reflection. I also get it in the red room. Meditation is really about mindlessness, and when I take Barry’s its the opposite I come up with the best ideas in class. My mind doesn’t stop moving when I take a class. It is a very powerful experience and you are constantly overcoming challenges and somehow having fun along the way. There is a very creative flow that happens in my brain when I take a class.
MM: What are your leadership values or methods?
JG: During the values exercise that we did at Barry’s I noticed that three of them were something that came directly from my parents and I am sure the executive team feels the same way about their own life experience. The three are: Family, Work Hard, and Have Fun. Family, we treat each other with respect and support and trust one another. The second: work hard, which has to do within the red room and out of the red room. It takes hard work to see results. Our employees work so hard, from 4:30 am to 9:30 pm. trust one another. The second: work hard, which has to do within the red room and out of the red room. It takes hard work to see results. Our employees work so hard, from 4:30 am to 9:30 pm all we do is make sure our customers are having an incredible experience. And the third is to have fun. That working hard piece is not great if you are not having fun while you do it. I think it is really great to work at an organization who requires you to have fun. As an employee, it helps people figure out that they might not be in the right job. Barry’s can be so fun, and people who are not having fun will think maybe I should move on. My background is Latin and Italian it’s loud, there is laughter and wine and food it’s all about celebration and having fun.
MM: What does Barry’s look for in a trainer?
JG: Two words that come to mind, are inspirational and aspirational. I think inspiration because this is a performance an individual who somehow has to help you as the participant gets through 60 minutes of a challenging workout. During those 60 minutes, the trainer should be evoking some type of emotion. We have some people who are kind of more spiritual and other instructors are really funny and inspire through humor. They are aspirational because this is a lifestyle that we are selling we absolutely want people who live our truth. So the best Barry’s instructors are usually in classes themselves sprinting at 15 or 20 MPH; they are invested in the community. We have something called the farming method where we pull instructors through the funnel of customers, which is how I became an employee at Barry’s along with some of our longtime instructors. We see a customer shows an interest and athletic prowess. You also have to be sharp. There
is a lot of multi-tasking involved, it’s not just one group its two groups at the same time. You are dropping a beat, leading sprints and keeping control over everything, so it has to be someone who is good on their feet. Finally, you have to find someone who is humble. It’s the one thing I would say is most important because our instructors are definitely stars and we recognize that. But we don’t tolerate a diva attitude, that is not in line with our values. We are family and the front desk person is just as important as the instructor who is just as important as whoever is on maintenance. We make sure that people acknowledge this is a team sport and humility is something we really value at Barry’s for the long-term success of our instructors and all our employees.
MM: What does the future of fitness look like for Barry’s Bootcamp?
JG: I am not saying this is going to happen next year but I would imagine as this company and community continues to grow we would experiment with different types of workouts that somehow still share our brand values. A value of our is to continue to innovate and so there really is no ceiling on what I think we are capable of doing. We recently launched 4 studios in North America called the Flex Studios where we have been trying different curriculum, including a stretch class, a double floor class where it is all strength training. I think that the playground and experimentation are going to continue and we are going to have a varied offering in the foreseeable future.