BOOM: Barry’s Bulks-up its MULO Brand

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The boutique fitness industry is having a moment.  And Barry’s (formerly Barry’s Boot Camp) is making moves to grow along with it.

With plans to quadruple its 48-location footprint by 2030, Barry’s offers a “unique blend of high-intensity (HIIT) cardio, strength training, music, and signature red lights,” according to a profile of the company CEO Joey Gonzalez, a former trainer.

The company was founded in 1998 in Los Angeles (West Hollywood) and became known as one of the first workout studios offering HIIT. The company rapidly expanded outside the U.S., opening locations in Norway (2011) and London (2013).

Following a third-party investment from North Castle Partners, the MULO (multi-location) brand expanded across the United States and Canada, adding Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, Houston, Charlotte, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. They also opened locations in Toronto, Calgary, Milan, Stockholm, Sydney, and Dubai. LightBay Capital has also invested in the brand, which now generates about $100 million in annual revenue.

Like other fitness studios, Barry’s was hit hard by the pandemic but appears to be on the road to recovery. Virtual reality workouts are among the current exercise trends, posing a threat to traditional gyms and exercise studios. But Barry’s has leveraged technology to compete in the virtual exercise arena, offering a proprietary app to its members so that they can stay active at home or on the road.

Like many fitness studios, the company sells branded and third-party merchandise to build additional revenue. Barry’s also recently partnered with Therabody to offer recovery solutions in its gyms. People are aware that stretching and healing muscles are critical aspects of a workout routine, and Barry’s team members will all be trained on how to assist with that using Therabody’s equipment.

Although boutique exercise studios and the entire fitness category are here to stay, on-trend workout routines can come and go. Over the next few months, we’ll cover some of the BOOM and BUST brands in the MULO work-out industry — from large-scale companies to smaller boutique storefronts. But some of the principles that seem to apply are:

  • Build a raving fan base to accelerate word-of-mouth
  • Diversify through technology (like Barry’s app), merch, and partnerships
  • Stay on top of trends and change up your routine (literally) to keep fans/members engaged and challenged
  • Utilize social media to build awareness continually. Fitness is a category that lends itself to imagery and video
  • Cultivate a loyal employee/trainer base. Entrepreneurial trainers will often spin off their own brands, so create a career path that involves autonomy and leadership skills

The global fitness industry is currently valued at $82B. Although the pandemic put a dent in the business, in-person fitness has made a comeback, and health-conscious consumers are back to the gym.

Brands like Barry’s are reinventing themselves and are building business muscle that will increase their chance of longevity and long-term results.





Nancy A Shenker, senior editor with Street Fight, is a former big brand (Citibank, Mastercard, Reed Exhibitions) marketing strategist and leader. She has been featured in, the New York Times and Forbes.