Joey Gonzalez came home in mid-November for "one of the most climactic and meaningful moments" of his career: the opening of Barry's Chicago, 11 W. Erie St., in River North.
Gonzalez is, after all, a Chicago-area native who is the CEO of Barry's Bootcampthe group workout regimen that combines equal length intervals of cardio ( treadmill runs ) and floor work ( weight training, resistance exercises ) in a one-hour workout.
Gonzalez, 38, now lives in Los Angeles, though he grew up in Chicago's northwest suburbs and is a 1995 graduate of St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights. He is married to Jonathan Rollo, 38, the founder/CEO of Greenleaf Chopshop, and they have a daughter, Francesca, who is 1. Gonzalez remains a diehard Cubs fan who tagged the team's 2016 World Series title as "pure bliss." In fact, they watched the deciding game seven over Cleveland at home in Los Angeles with a defrosted deep-dish Lou Malnati's pizza and beer, he said, "wishing we had been" in Chicago or at the championship scene in Cleveland.
They spent part of their recent time in Chicago touring, hitting the Children's Museum at Navy Pier, shopping on Rush Street, at Soho House in the West Loop, and time at Bar Siena, among other things.
Gonzalez, though, was truly focused on opening Barry's in Chicagoa development he said was "difficult to articulate in words. [It's a] dream come true."
There are other Barry's locations throughout California and multiple sites in New York City, plus outlets in Nashville, Boston, Miami, and internationally.
"There has been a captive and very vocal audience for Barry's [to open in Chicago] for many years. It's been our number-one requested new market," Gonzalez said. "My objective is to continue innovating and evolving: to invent new ways to bring health and fitness to our clients in the most premium way. Chicago is our first time experimenting with some of these innovations, such as our stretch lounge and larger elevated locker rooms and showers."
All four classes were sold out on opening day in Chicago, "and the reaction from customers was amazing," he said. "There was a magical buzz exuding from everyone and people were beyond excited that the wait was finally over."
Gonzalez admitted that many customers are, or can be, intimidated by the Barry's workout, given the reputation that it isn't easy. "We encourage first-timers to go at their own pace and 'not be a hero.' The truth is, nothing is easy in life, and if you're looking for results, this is the place to get them," he said.
So consider Barry's as part of a perfect New Year's Resolution to shape up.
"Most New Year' commitments are results-oriented and there isn't a more efficient workout," he said.
Are the workouts as intense as they look?
Yes, but, "any given class at Barry's will have all walks of life: old, young, fit, overweight, etc.," he said. "At the end of the day, it's an inspiring and fun activity that will undoubtedly take your fitness to the next level. But, you can certainly customize the pace at which you move, and you will always have the support of our community to help.
"The workout is exceptionally fun and efficient. If you're able to get past the idea that this thing is too hard for you and give it a shot, you won't be disappointed. Believe it or not, back in 2003, I was too afraid to try Barry's until my friend convinced me, and only a few months later my body and mind had totally transformed. Fear can paralyze people and keep them from their full potential."
So who is the high-intensity Barry's workout geared for?
Everyone, he said without hesitation. "Just take a moment before class to share your fitness level or history of injuries with your instructor before class. Our trainers will adjust and set you up to succeed," he added.
Barry's Chicago is a two-level space with more than 7,000 square feet. The aesthetics are modern industrial, with elevated locker room and shower experience and premium finishes, including Carrera marble, Sachajuan beauty products, and more.
"In the New Year, we are launching our first ever stretch lounge, which will provide a community space to warm up and recover before and after class," Gonzalez said. "There is a BOSCO GIF booth and several other fun social media posting moments throughout the space.
"For Chicago's first Fuel Bar, we introduced some incredible ingredients and new recipes into our protein shakes."