Worth The Weight: An Interview With Bodytek’s Mikey Verdugo
Worth The Weight: An Interview With Bodytek’s Mikey Verdugo
The Wilton Manors location of Bodytek Fitness is nestled snugly between a performing arts theater and an architectural firm along the N Dixie Highway fork connecting to NE 24th Street. The mirrors lining the interior are enough to inspire a Flashdance fantasy. Abandoned circular balance trainers, trampolines, towers of aerobic steps and stretches of exercise mats straddle the outskirts of the gym floor. Bold splashes of lime green paint on the walls brighten the space in the same way owner Mikey Verdugo does. The 41-year-old fitness expert radiates with energy, buzzing around the gym like a kid in a candy store. This location is a far cry from the humble digs where Bodytek was born.
Five years ago, Verdugo started Bodytek in his 20’ x 20’ garage. Outfitted with a punching bag, free weights and a rowing machine among other equipment, Verdugo began embarking on an exciting journey that would yield unexpected success in no time. Within four months of setting up shop, 40 to 50 cars a night were crowding the streets around his house. Along with his new clients came calls from the bank, code enforcement and complaints from neighbors. Instead of crumbling under the weight and pressure of a burgeoning fitness empire, Verdugo buckled down and thought bigger. He opened the Davie location of Bodytek soon thereafter in a 1200-square foot warehouse. To the shock of close friends, Verdugo opened up the second location in Wilton Manors for the bustling fitness brand a month later.
Before Verdugo became the toast of the SoFlo fitness universe, he was a cop for nearly a decade and also had his own staging and interior design company. For Verdugo, who has spent most of his life in or around the fitness industry, making the transition into owning his own fitness brand was simply par for the course.
“I started working out when I was 13 and fell in love with it,” remembers Verdugo. “When I was 16, I started to work the front desk at Gold’s Gym down in Miami Lakes. I was there from 16 to about 22. I was a personal trainer at 19 as well. In that time span, I became the General Manager for two gyms. I just love fitness.”
Not long after finding his footing in Wilton Manors, this love of fitness motivated Verdugo to further expand Bodytek in his hometown. Although he grew up in Miami, Verdugo admits that he never spent much time in the trendy Wynwood district. After spending time in the area, he fell in love with its vibe and decided to set up shop there a year and a half ago. Much like his other locations, Bodytek Wynwood flourished. Verdugo has since revisited the Davie location and doubled the location in size.
Despite such rapid growth in such a short amount of time, Verdugo isn’t in a rush to completely franchise Bodytek out just yet.
“I’ve been approached to franchise or partner up by so many people,” confesses Verdugo. “Bodytek is my baby. Back in the day, my family had about 18 restaurants and we licensed them out and doing so killed them. I learned from that. People aren’t going to respect what’s yours like you do. To me, it’s personal.”
Bodytek Fitness prides itself on helping clients reclaim their lives by providing intense, exercise-based health and fitness programs. Through specialized training and networking, Bodytek has crafted a community of support that has attracted patrons from all over Florida. Over the years, Verdugo has amassed an intensely loyal following from clients of all different walks of life.
“I have a client who’s 63 and she kicks ass,” says Verdugo of Bodytek’s diverse clientele. “At Davie, I have another client who’s an NFL player and he goes all out. That’s what’s great about our workouts. Everyone can do them.”
South Florida is littered with gyms, each with some heaving, hurculean head turner as their spokesperson. Verdugo is quick to point out that all gyms aren’t created equally and Bodytek has managed to not get lost in the sweaty shuffle.
“It’s South Florida and everyone wants to stay in shape here,” explains Verdugo. “You have your big box gyms like LA Fitness, you have the Crossfits and you have cardio-focused brands like Orange Theory. I really don’t know of any other [High Intensity Interval Training] facilities like Bodytek in the area, aside from a few in Miami. We incorporate everything in our workouts.”
The Bodytek workout consists of consistently shocking the body and muscle memory through an ever evolving routine. No workout is ever the same, as trainers switch things up. One day, clients could very well be bouncing around between 15 different stations completing short intervals. The next, there may be six stations with longer training intervals and more reps. The changing format and fitness formula is a trademark of the Bodytkek workout. While patrons come for the incredible workouts, they return for the exemplary customer service.
“We are incredibly personable with the clients,” says Verdugo about the welcoming environment at Bodytek. “We’re not corporate and we know everyone’s name. It’s a Bodytek family. Every once in a while, we’ll get clients who have negative energy. They don’t last here. I don’t care about the money. I care about making everyone feel like they are part of something. So many people meet here and become friends outside of Bodytek. To me, you can’t put a price on that.”
In a short span of time, Verdugo has expanded his brand to three locations with more on tap for next year. In January 2016, he is slated to launch an Aventura location followed by one in Boca. Bodytek is also hosting Battlefrog in November. The eight-mile run riddled with 30 to 40 obstacles is a team-building event that brings clients together outside of the studio.
Ambitious and driven, Verdugo has overcome a surfeit of challenges by sticking to his guns and practicing what he preaches. It’s his clientele, however, that keeps him going in a business that he’s been in since he was an adolescent.
“You are a walking billboard of what you do,” explains Verdugo. “If you’re out of shape, how are clients going to look up to you? Some of my clients have lost 100 pounds. I am helping them make those changes. This keeps me doing what I do. I’ve always been in the industry and I don’t know how or why, but a lot of it has to do with me wanting to help people. I truly enjoy motivating others and helping them achieve their goals.”