The Real-Life Diet of Barry’s CEO Joey Gonzalez, Who Does 200 Minutes of Cardio and 500 Minutes of Strength Training a Week

A 40-gram protein shake before and after he works out, breakfast with his kids each morning, and candy at the movies. Here's how the Barry's CEO eats.
The RealLife Diet of Barrys CEO Joey Gonzalez Who Does 200 Minutes of Cardio and 500 Minutes of Strength Training a Week
Photograph courtesy of Barry's; Collage: Gabe Conte

As I step into my first-ever Barry’s class—which markets itself as the best workout in the world—I’m surrounded by more than a hundred other people. Most Barry’s classes have only about 20 participants, but we’ve all congregated to celebrate the brand’s 25th birthday the way Barry’s knows best, with a good old-fashioned workout in a red room, where the grunts and groans are drowned out by blaring pop music.

We’ve chosen this class because the instructor is Joey Gonzalez, Barry’s devotee turned coach turned Barry’s CEO. Gonzalez, a gay man whose father is Cuban and whose mother is Italian, exudes a captivating energy. A typical Barry’s class alternates between running on a treadmill and high-intensity interval exercises.

We sat down with Gonzalez to chat about his diet and workout regimen, what movie snacks he can never say no to, and how his background as a performer informs his training philosophy.

For Real-Life Diet, GQ talks to athletes, celebrities, and other high performers about their diet, exercise routines, and pursuit of wellness. Keep in mind that what works for them might not necessarily be healthy for you.

This is kind of a cheesy question, but I love asking it upfront. What is your “why?”

I grew up in very challenging circumstances because I was gay and Latino in a place where everybody identified as straight and white. I felt different and was made fun of constantly, so I spent the greater part of my youth yearning for inclusivity. When I saw this opportunity to foster and grow the community at Barry’s, I wanted to ensure that employees and clients—no matter who they were—felt like it was a place where they could come.

I love that ethos. What’s something else that a lot of people may not know about you?

At a really young age, I was in the Screen Actors Guild. I was doing film, TV, and musical theatre professionally. It was really interesting to have a career to balance as a kid alongside my academics and social life. I’d say that set the stage for my work ethic. It also taught me the value of really loving what you do; how if you do that, it never really feels like work.

Do you still consider yourself a performer?

Yeah. At Barry’s, I’m a trainer first and foremost. That’s how I started and I still teach classes today. We call our instructors, “entertrainers.” We’re on a stage, and we’re performing. We’re the DJ, and we have to have musicality. There are so many requirements to be creative and artistic, which I think aligns with actors, dancers, and performers in general.

How many classes do you teach a year, would you say?

It depends. I teach almost every time I travel. If I had to put a number on it, I would say I teach 30 to 50 classes a year.

So, getting into it: What does a normal day look like for you? Are you up at four in the morning like Mark Wahlberg?

Is that a real thing? He wakes up at four in the morning?

That’s what he told us.

Goodness. That is not what I do—but I am extremely disciplined and regimented.

What’s the regimen?

I wake up usually around the same time every day, between 6 and 7 a.m. I make breakfast for both of my kids, eat with them, and then do all my meal prep for the day. Around 8 a.m., I drop off my kids, and I’ll go to the gym. Weekly, I’ll do about 200 minutes of cardio and 500 minutes of strength training. I take four or five Barry’s classes a week and also go to a separate gym to do Olympic-style bodybuilding.

Typical breakfast?

I always eat the same thing: four-to-five ounces of chicken breast with five-to-six ounces of egg whites and one or one-and-a-half servings of oatmeal with berries. My preference is blueberries, but I love blackberries as well. I’ll also do a shake with 40 grams of protein before and after my workout, around 9:30 or 10 a.m.

What about lunch?

I have two pieces of Ezekiel toast, a Muscle Milk, and another cup of berries around 12:30 p.m.

Dp you put anything on the toast, like avocado, maybe?

Sometimes. My nutritionist prescribed a very low-fat diet, so I’ll use I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter or a very low-sugar jelly.

That doesn’t sound like a very filling meal, though.

Well, two hours later, I’ll have a more meaningful, substantive lunch. I’ll do two cups of rice and seven ounces of shrimp as well as two or three ounces of green veggies. That’ll usually be spinach, green beans, or broccoli.

That’s more like what I was expecting. And then dinner?

The next meal I have is around 5:15 p.m., and I’ll have a bolognese pasta. My mom was born and raised in Italy, so that’s one of my favorites. For the pasta, I’ll do seven ounces of the leanest meat, half a cup of veggie pasta, and half a cup to a cup of tomato sauce.

I hear you also eat a second dinner. Is that true?

Yeah. Around 7:30 p.m., I’ll do seven or eight ounces of a protein and another three ounces of vegetables. That’s the last thing I’ll eat before I’m in bed by 10 p.m. I’d love to say I meditate, watch TV, or have some “me time,” but I usually just get in bed and fall asleep.

How has being a dad affected your workout routine and diet?

The first two years, I was probably the least disciplined I’ve ever been in my adult life. I kind of let everything go—I was just soaking it up and enjoying being a parent. I wasn’t working out as much as I should have for my own mental health, and I was ordering Domino’s Pizza. I also think there was something weird in my mind that told me I needed to sacrifice all the things that were important to me to be the best parent.

How’d you get past that?

After going through that for a couple of years, I looked in the mirror, and I was like, “What are you doing? This is not what makes you happy. This is not what will make you the best parent. You need to focus on you.” At this point in my life, I’m probably the most disciplined I've ever been.

Is that to say you don’t allow yourself any Domino’s these days?

Not at all. I'm not unforgiving. There are definitely times when I want to enjoy things for myself and model for my kids that they don’t need to eat the way that I eat. Plus, eating ice cream is fun, so I definitely take liberties. Also, most weekends, we go to the movies as a family. I'll definitely have popcorn and candy—every single time.

Bringing it back full circle, how has having kids changed your why?

I don't think it's changed that much. I think it's just been magnified by my role as a parent. I'm raising two kids who obviously feel different when they go to school because they have two dads. I want them to be able to have that same inclusive feeling. It just makes the mission and the purpose even more pronounced.