Guy Smarts: You can take class with the CEO at Barry’s bootcamp

You can take class with the CEO at Barry's bootcamp

That's the case at Barry’s Bootcamp, where company CEO Joey Gonzalez still leads classes. If you happen to live in the Los Angeles area, you could even be lucky enough to take Gonzalez’ Saturday session.

When you hit the gym for a fitness class, you can typically expect that your instructor will be knowledgeable and energetic. What you don’t expect is that they’re actually the boss of the entire operation.

 

That’s the case at Barry’s Bootcamp, where company CEO Joey Gonzalez still leads classes. If you happen to live in the Los Angeles area, you could even be lucky enough to take Gonzalez’ Saturday session.

From Bootcamp to Boardroom

Like a lot of customers-turned-diehard fans today, Gonzalez was intimidated to go to his first class. It was the late 1990s, and he distinctly remembers heading through the double doors into the red room (that’s how the company affectionately refers to their workout studio).

Gonzalez recalls feeling challenged in a way he had never been before. “The workout wasn’t easy,” he said in a recent phone interview. “I got hooked right away. Before Barry’s, I went and worked out at the gym by myself, but I never really was able to change my body the way I wanted to. But Barry’s did that.”

 

Barry’s celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and Gonzalez, a customer-turned-trainer, trainer-turned-manager, manager-turned-executive now sits in the CEO seat. Founded by celebrity trainer Barry Jay in 1998, the Los Angeles-born brand sees more than 40,000 clients come through its 50+ locations each week, making Gonzalez a busy man.

No matter how Barry’s grows, he won’t be giving up those Saturday classes anytime soon. “I think it makes me a better CEO, being immersed in the experience,” Gonzalez says. “It’s important for me to get on the mic in the studio, test out the initiatives we’re running, and see how people react. Separately, I just love how teaching makes me feel. It keeps the performer inside me alive.”

From Hardcore to Happy

When asked how the company has changed in the 20 years since its start, Gonzalez quips that it’s more like, “what’s the same, really?”

“We’re in an entirely different generation,” says Gonzalez. “When we started, it was a really tough hardcore military-inspired class, almost humiliating at times. The thought was if you don’t run faster or lift heavier, you’d get called out or yelled at.”

But that’s certainly not the case now. In New York City’s Gramercy neighborhood just last week, I walked into the Park Avenue South location and was met by four super-friendly staff-members at a front desk. They showed me around the space, including a fuel bar, locker rooms, and of course, the red room, complete with 25 treadmills, 27 benches, weight racks toting up to 70-pound dumbbells, and an optimistic, kind instructor who used positive words of encouragement throughout the workout.

Granted, each studio is different. Gonzalez says that part of the reason the brand has been so successful is that they’re continuously evolving and trying new things. At the Venice, California location, class-goers will find a separate floor completely dedicated to foam rolling, stretching, and chilling out. Out on eastern Long Island, offers another class called “Flex” that nixes the treadmill work altogether. 

The Joey Gonzalez Exec Bootcamp Workout

Can’t make it to one of the locations yourself? Don’t worry: Gonzalez has you covered.

Here, he offers a lower body workout similar to what he puts clients through in the red room. He suggests doing it with two heavy dumbbells – between 25 to 50 lbs., depending on your capabilities – and apologizes that he can’t bring Barry’s signature red lighting to your home personally.

Warmup

Time: 3 minutes

  • Bodyweight alternating lunge (1 minute)

  • Hip flexor stretch (2 minutes)

Start with your feet together. Lunge forward with your left leg, placing your right hand on the floor. Extend your left arm overhead to the sky, opening your chest. As you come back toward center, reach left forearm toward the floor and feel stretch in left hip flexor. Return to start; repeat on opposite leg.

 

Workout

Do this three-part lunge series first on your left side, then repeat on the right.

  • Reverse lunge: 12 reps

Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart, holding two dumbbells by your sides with palms facing in.

Keeping your torso upright, step backward with your left foot and lower your body until your front knee is bent at least 90 degrees and your back knee almost touches the ground. Push yourself back to the starting position for 1 rep.

  • Reverse lunge: 15 reps

Drop down to one weight, and hold it with both hands racked at chest.

  • Reverse lunge: 15 reps

Crank up the speed and drop the weights altogether.

Once you’ve finished 15 reps, drop back into one final lunge, holding the position for 30 seconds.

Repeat all on right side.

  • Squat: 15 reps

Stand tall with feet spread shoulder-width apart, holding two weights racked at shoulders, palms facing in (kettlebells shown above, for demonstrative purposes).

Push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body until your upper thighs are parallel to the floor (or as low as you can comfortably go). Pause, and then return to standing for 1 rep.

  • Squat: 15 reps

Drop down to one weight, and hold it with both hands racked at chest.

  • Bodyweight squat: 15 reps

Crank up the speed and drop the weights altogether.

  • Squat jumps: 30 seconds

Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Push your hips back and lower down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Then explode off the floor and jump as high as you can. Allow your knees to bend 45 degrees when you land, immediately drop back down into a squat, and jump again.

  • Deadlift: 12 reps

Grab a pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip, and hold them at arm’s length in front of your thighs. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Brace your core.

Without changing the bend in your knees, hinge at your hips, and lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor. As you lower the weight, keep the dumbbells as close to your body as possible. Pause, then raise your torso back to the starting position. That’s 1 rep.

  • Calf raises: 12 reps

Stand upright holding two dumbbells by your sides. Raise your heels off the floor and squeeze your calves. Slowly return your heels to the floor. That’s 1 rep.

  • Deadlift and calf raise combo: 12 reps

Now, combine the two moves. Perform one deadlift followed by one calf raise for 1 rep.

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