Boutique fitness brand Barry’s is turning 25.
While the company, which currently has 84 studios across 14 countries, was founded by Barry Jay in 1998, Joey Gonzalez is now at the helm. However, his personal history with Barry’s dates back before he was appointed chief executive officer in 2015 — 11 years earlier he’d taken his first class at the studio and was hooked. From there, he held a slew of positions: instructor, manager, director of operations and chief operating officer.
Throughout his time, Gonzalez has navigated Barry’s through several challenges including a full rebranding, a global pandemic, continued expansion, not to mention competing in the ever-growing boutique fitness space. As Gonzalez looks back at the past 25 years and toward the future of the brand, several key goals come up: offering a positive and welcoming fitness environment, creating a lifestyle-driven brand and expanding globally.
The strategy seems to be working. While Barry’s, like all fitness studios, experienced a hit in revenue after the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s on track to return to pre-pandemic sales. Barry’s is expected to surpass $100 million in revenue this year, where it was in 2019 prior to the pandemic, posting a 40 percent year-over-year increase between 2022 and 2023. The company says 20 percent of attendees take three or more classes per week.
While Barry’s launched with a dog tag logo and a boot camp-driven attitude, the company has now taken a more positive, less intimidating approach, albeit still high intensity interval training.
“The attitude within the red room [where classes are held] is very much ‘Don’t be a hero. Do as much as you can. The hard part’s over. You showed up,’” Gonzalez said.
This energy is exemplified by the Barry’s trainers, who are tapped based on four key characteristics: being charismatic, fun, caring and smart, according to the brand. Gonzalez jokingly declined to share more information on what goes into finding trainers, calling them “trade secrets.” However, for him, the instructors are at the heart of the business. After all, it’s where he started.
Furthermore, to create a more welcoming environment, Barry’s has doubled down on providing a sense of community through lifestyle initiatives, including its apparel business, recovery stations and Fuel Bar, its healthy café.
While the brand has worked with key fitness retailers like Lululemon to create cobranded merchandise, it also has its own line of products, Barry’s Fit.
“Imagine pants that feel great to lift in and do abs but also won’t fall off you if you’re sprinting at 10 miles an hour,” Gonzalez said, noting the apparel offering is split evenly between Barry’s Fit and other brands.
The recovery stations, which are outfitted at nearly all Barry’s studios, are an opportunity for the company to partner with like-minded brands such as Therabody to offer guests more personalized experiences. At the stations, guests can recover after a workout with wellness tech, like the Therabody Theragun Pro, $599, or the Therabody Wave Roller, $149.
“[It] provides the user with an end to end wellness experience,” Gonzalez said.
The Fuel Bar, which is at the majority of Barry’s studios, has a similar impact, as it offers consumers healthy snacks and shakes to refuel after a workout. Gonzalez created the Fuel Bar in partnership with his husband Jonathan Rollo, who is a chef.
“It’s been another way to continue the conversation and the experience with the clients who are coming to Barry’s,” Gonzalez said. “It not only gives them a way to fuel themselves after or before a workout but it required extra space in our lobbies and seating tables, bar area, which has really provided our clients with a third space.”
As Barry’s turns 25, global expansion is top of mind.
“It’s a data informed strategy, not data driven,” Gonzalez said.
In the early days, the brand simply listened to its customers’ requests when thinking about opening a studio. While this still plays a major role in the decision making now, expansion relies heavily on data.
“We look at a lot of demographic and psychographic information, which helps us stack rank [of] all of the cities and trade areas we’re thinking about,” Gonzalez said.
With this, there are a slew of locations in the pipeline including Spain, Portugal, Bahrain, Egypt and Israel, as well as several new studios across the U.S. As Barry’s expands, Gonzalez is focused on differentiating each new studio with design elements and aesthetics specific to the market — think exposed brick at the NoHo studio in New York City or the beachy, hotel-inspired look at the Santa Monica studio in California.