Joey Gonzalez, CEO of Barry’s, said he used to hate working out in group settings.
Living in Los Angeles in 2004, Gonzalez found his way into the workout studio and fell in love with it. Barry’s — formerly Barry’s Bootcamp until 2015 — first began in Los Angeles in 1998 under Barry Jay. At the time, Barry’s had a military boot camp theme with camouflage decorations and dog tags for clients. But over time, the fitness brand has shed that image in favor of a broader and more high-end aesthetic, including its well-known red lighting. The cult favorite workout studio now celebrates its 25th anniversary, building a solid following of devotees along the way. To date, Barry’s has 84 studios across 14 countries, with six locations in the U.S. It plans to soon expand into Israel, Spain, Bahrain and Egypt.
“There are mirrors all around the room [at Barry’s]. And that is intended so that you can watch your form and have your eyes on yourself,” said Gonzalez. “It’s very much you versus you. It can be competitive [between people], but for the most part, people are there to connect with themselves.”
Over the past 25 years, Barry’s has been able to withstand the fitness fads and Covid-19 impacts to emerge more resilient than ever. Today, Barry’s is once again profitable, surpassing $100 million in revenue in 2022, according to the company. It expects a 40% year-over-year increase in 2023.
In the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020, fitness companies suffered. Gonzalez said that, as of the first quarter of 2023, Barry’s revenue is 99% back to where it was just before the pandemic. During this period, Barry’s debuted its virtual workout series called Barry’s X. Additional class forms include Barry’s original HIIT workout consisting of 50% treadmill running and 50% weightlifting, and Barry’s x Ride, which replaced running with stationary bicycling. There is also Barry’s x Lift and Barry’s x Release, which are strength training and recovery classes.
Gonzalez spoke with Glossy about how he went from client to CEO, what exercise habits around the world are like, and why when the doors open to the red room, you’re home. The below excerpts have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
His journey from client to CEO
“I joined the team in 2004. But I started as a client before I became an instructor, then manager. And then I ran operations for a few years and eventually became one of the co-founders by investing my own capital in opening all of the studios after L.A., including San Diego and New York. I was at the helm in proving the brand’s portability and developing all the tools we needed to scale. My role started long before CEO, in terms of how I was able to impact the culture in the business. It’s been, for me, almost 20 years that we’ve been able to survive and thrive through every fitness trend and cultural moment you can imagine, with cardio going in and out of style and the emergence of HIIT which we’ve been doing the whole time.
I never had the objective or dream of being the CEO. That wasn’t something that I worked toward. But I found a job that I loved, and I worked so hard. That’s hard advice to receive as a young person today because, while millennials and Gen Z have done a great job of finding work-life balance, the truth is you only have so much time in the day. And if you have great aspirations and a lot of ambition, there’s simply no other way than to work hard.”
Surviving the fitness fads
“A big part of what has made Barry’s successful for so long is we always keep it fun. Barry’s is not the easiest, but when you show up and walk through the door, you already know you’re surrounded by like-minded people who are there to work hard, are results-driven and are ready to take on a big challenge. But it’s lit like a nightclub. Barry [Jay’s] story is that he created Barry’s when he was sober, but he missed that part of his life — of nightclubs and going out and partying and dancing.”
What’s next for Barry’s
“We hope to get to at least 100 studios in the U.S. within [the next] 3-4 years. The sky is limitless globally. We could reach 150-200 studios internationally with the right strategy over the next 3-5 years. And in terms of brand extension, we are investing in both Lift and Ride classes. We hear from our clients regularly that they want that class offering in their market. People always ask, ‘Are you going to do more? Are there going to be other modalities?’ And my answer has always been, ‘I don’t know.’ But I think the answer is yes. I think there’s always going to be more for us.”