19 Jul Episode #281: Anthony Baretta, CEO, Push Fitness
Pete Moore: This is Pete Moore on HALO Talks NYC. I have the pleasure of bringing back my fellow strong Islander independent operator with general fitness oh seven Tony push fitness, Queens, long island, and beyond. Welcome to the halo talks
Tony Baretta: My friend. Thank you. Thank you.
Pete Moore: Give us a little background on how you got into the fitness industry and turn this a passion into profession. My friend.
Tony Baretta: Okay. So briefly I started off when I was a young kid, 16 years old, I’m now 41 years old. I was 285 pounds and that was looking for a health club to join. And I joined the gym and my passion just became very strong with helping people and making people feel comfortable in an environment, especially, you know, people that were overweight and walking into a club and feeling comfortable. So I got a job at a gym, which at the time was called general fitness center GFC. I started working there and my passion was always to make the club better. It was at the time 20 years ago, it was a more of a, more of a lifter’s gym. And I just kind of wanted to always turn it around. My, my idols of health clubs have always been more of like an Equinox type of gym, David Barton from back in the day. There was another one, which I can’t remember, but anyways, I always liked a luxury gym. So I wanted to do a luxury gym at an affordable price for people.
Pete Moore: So, you know, as you take a look at you know, what the build-out costs are, are on an Equinox or what they were on a David Barton, you know, how did you think about reverse engineering, that experience you know, I’ve been to your clubs, they did their pristine there, you know, almost like a work of art at a reasonable price. Yes, you’ve definitely executed on the vision there. You know, for the, for the groups that are out there listening who are trying to either renovate their clubs or build a new club, you know, what are some of the big CapEx items that you’ve kind of like reverse engineer and say, Hey, look that you can spend a lot of money on this, but I just spend money on the places I need to.
Tony Baretta: So exactly. I mean, we all know that the first area or first couple of areas that you need to work on is your first impression. And that’s when you first walk into the club locker rooms, sales offices, you know, if they have classes, classrooms, we, so basically, I mean, what do we build out? The gyms we build out the gyms? No, I mean, we, we definitely build it out to the extreme, but it’s all the type of materials you pick out. And the biggest thing that I highly suggest that whoever’s opening up a health club is that they invest the money into a good interior designer, a good interior designer. They definitely always take things to the next level. You just have to see the vision on what they, what, what they want to do to the clump.
Pete Moore: Gotcha. So, you know, when you take a look at going into markets like Queens, as an example, you know, you got to kind of sometimes take your, your, your parking hat off and say, you know, look, there’s going to be a certain amount of people that are just going to walk here. Certain amount of people are going to take, you know, bicycles or buses or what have you. So how do you think about, you know, scoping out new locations? I don’t think the technology is ever really there to the point where you could say, okay, I got enough data. Like part of it’s just kind of trusting your gut in your experience. How do you think about that?
Tony Baretta: Wow. You just brought back a good memory. I mean, our first location was in fresh metals and there was actually, there wasn’t actually any park there except for street parking. And at the time I had a lot of gym owners. I mean, I was about maybe 27 years old, my first big investment. And I had a lot of gym owners saying that I was going to fail and because of that parking, so that just made me, you know, want to basically like build a club as beautiful as possible and attract the people in Queens, people that are used to parking. So that was the main reason why, you know, I was like, I ended up going for it. Cause you know, Queens isn’t like long island, people are used to looking for a parking spot.
Pete Moore: Gotcha. You know, as you built multiple clubs you know, what, what drove you to do that? Was it you know, I’ve figured this out, I’m going to go build more locations. Was it more of a, you know, like an Excel model, Hey, if I do this, I can get to X or is it just more of your personality?
Tony Baretta: Well, yes, what happened was, is we opened up the club in in fresh metals. And from there we remodeled our club GFC at the time. Now it’s called push fitness as well. And then we just went, I basically, I actually kind of the third location, which is in new Hyde park. It was a mom and pop gym. I went in there. I walked in there and as I just sometimes feel the potential, I if I walk into a club that’s been operated by owners that have owned it for 10, 20 years. And if they’re able to survive on those 20 years on the, they were running the club, I sometimes I’m like this club has huge potential with me going in there and renovating it and running it the way we’ve run out clubs.