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Our California Roots

With the sun, surf, and three friends that had a dream to create a gym that was inviting, clean, affordable, and—basically—too good to be true, Chuze Fitness was born. Find out more about our California roots, here!

Published: 11/14/19

Our California Roots: The Story Of How Chuze Fitness Began

You may have heard of Chuze Fitness, and you might even be one of our incredible members, but have you heard our story? We want to take you back, waaaaay back to our roots in San Diego, California—the place that inspired our new apparel line, The California Collection. With the sun, surf, and three friends that had a dream to create a gym that was inviting, clean, affordable, and—basically—too good to be true. 

Our Roots

It started way before our founding in 2008, before Chuze Fitness was even a thought. In 1978, friends Ray Barshick and Charles Brightwell joined together to open a buffet-style salad bar in Houston, TX. Their goal was to create a whole new dining concept—soup and salad buffets—while delivering over-the-top customer service. They provided a fantastic experience, and their business took off. The restaurants grew across several states before Ray and Charles chose to sell in the mid-nineties. 

At that time, their young sons, Nick Barshick and Cory Brightwell, became best friends. They grew up together watching their fathers put care and hard work into their restaurant business, and in 2006, an idea struck. Ray and Charles approached their sons and Ray’s new son in-law, Kris Peterson, about starting a business. Everyone was living in San Diego at the time, and it seemed like a great fit. After considering getting back into the restaurant business, someone approached the team with information on the fitness industry. They took a look at what was happening in the industry at the time (pushy sales tactics, bare-minimum gym equipment, etc.) and realized that they could marry their history in next-level hospitality with the gym model and Chuze—err, Fuse Fitness was born.

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From left to right: Cory Brightwell, Nick Barshick, Ray Barshick, Charles Brightwell, and Kris Peterson.

Becoming Chuze

That’s right, Fuse Fitness was the first name we went with. It was more than likely chosen on one of the very Californian “board” meetings, where Nick, Cory, and Kris would meet out in the Pacific Ocean on their surfboards. By the first week of October 2008, Fuse was open for business.

But, “Fuse” didn’t last long—we quickly changed our name to Chuze and have loved it ever since. The name fits us much better because we wanted you—our members—to be able to choose your gym and not feel strong-armed into it with the intense sales process that you find at other gyms. Like the restaurant Ray and Charles built, we wanted to wow you with hospitality, and not intimidation. Our gyms have always spoken for themselves because they provide a whole lot of value for not a lot of money—and we are always looking for ways to improve.

Culture First

The first few months and even years were full of tons of hard work. With the guys working 6 to 7 days a week, all day, every day. Learning the ins and outs of managing a gym, how to keep it sparkling clean, and even—gulp—serving pizza and bagels. Instead of having supply shipments, they would have to go to Costco every week to stock the clubs, go to the laundromat to clean towels, and swing by local stores when supplies inevitably ran out. They didn’t know they were onto something great until the third club opened, and they could each manage their own. That was the dream, after all, and they were living it!

Now, 11 years later, we have 30 clubs across three states (and growing), and rather than serving up pizzas and bagels, we are happy to serve up the best customer experience in the industry. Our teams get to create an incredible experience for our members because the leaders of our company were able to cultivate the experience in the clubs. You can still find them wiping down equipment and greeting members when they are visiting the clubs. The board meetings are no longer held while surfing, but that doesn’t mean our Chiefs are not enjoying the waves whenever they can. 

The California Collection

That’s why we wanted to create the California Collection. To bring our vibe into the apparel sold in stores. We want you to feel like you could get on your skateboard, paddleboard, or lace up your hiking shoes and go while wearing your favorite Chuze apparel. It’s the Chuze state of mind, a sunny disposition with a bit of an edge. A company that looked at other gyms and said, “Wait, what?!” and took that opportunity to create fitness centers that makes its members go, “Wait! What!? How did they do this?”

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You can shop The California Collection in any of our locations or online. We hope to see you in your favorite Chuze clothing soon!