Our Philosophy

State of the Fitness Industry

MUNDANE Workouts

We grew up seeing people paying for gym memberships they don't use. It's not hard to realize why most aren't using them. In general most mega gyms get over crowded, have confusing machines and the gym goers around you look bored in their workouts.  We have all seen the gym fail videos on YouTube that poke fun at the awkward things that happen when gym goers try to learn and experiment with new ways to make their 1 hour gym session more interesting. Who can blame them for trying? It's not their fault they didn't major in Kinesiology and they are simply playing a stealthy game of "copy cat" with those around them who seem to have more confidence in using the equipment. Needless to say, one of the most common things we hear is that people are confused and so get stuck in a rut only using the mundane machines they understand.

Lost in the crowd

Group training emerged to provide that sense of community, and give strength training and aerobic training a format that newbies could feel less intimidated by. But as demand rose for group training, many programs just find bigger spaces to let more and more attendees into their sessions, meaning that you could be one of say 30 people trying to "follow the leader". We see lots of confusion, lots of poor form and it even the most clever trainer has to continually "dumb down" their exercises so the masses can follow along. 

License to Injure

Did you know that in the State of California the only requirement you need to call yourself a personal trainer is to carry personal liability insurance? It's honestly appalling and essentially gives anyone a license to injure others. We can't tell you how many personal trainers at gyms put together sub-par workout programs based on the YouTube video of the day that "looked cool." To be fair the range of knowledge in the fitness industry dramatically varies based on the trainers' personal values and dedication to his/her quality. Admittedly it is hard to discern for the average gym goer who to trust and who not to. As a result almost everyone walking through our doors has a horror story about a time when they did something under advisement that hurt their body. 

Distrust within the medical community

It's not hard to imagine that those who have spent years training for the designation of doctor, specialist etc. view many in the fitness community as the "car salesmen of the industry". How many times have you asked for a referral post rehab and not gotten a straight answer? Why? Doctors and medical professionals are not truly sure who to send you to or who will be reputable and not re-injure you. 

For those of us on the fitness side, it takes years and dozens of positive client experiences to win over someone in the medical profession. It's not that it can't be done, but it takes a while. 


The evolution of the fitness industry needs to keep evolving. 

We created Gymnazo to blend restoration with performance so everyone walking through our doors know they can reach their goals safely, receive quality coaching and belong to an encouraging community. 

We are bold but honest when we say that the three dimensional and functional training you get in Gymnazo is positioned to completely change the world of fitness. We see ourselves of part of the Movement Industry, which merges fitness with movement therapy. 

With trained eyes to catch and correct movement dysfunction, each workout is an art form that varies from client to client.

Combining physical, biological and behavioral sciences, our fitness programs bring innovation to the fitness and movement industry and improve the gym experience. 

We are here to offer a fitness model that you can trust. We've built a fitness community that is genuinely passionate about establishing healthy lifestyle habits. 

We are not playing for the short game and earning the badge of "fad." We are playing for the long game that changes lives and provides an engaging and sustainable fitness model. 

The revolution


With everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by applying the truths of physics, biology and behavioral sciences (Applied Functional Science) in everything we do. We just so happen to be a fitness facility.
— Michael Hughes, Founder


What makes us unique?


All our services center around the following vital principles:








Our fitness philosophy



The overall goal is to train and discipline the whole person in the facility so they maximize their ability outside of the facility.
— Michael Hughes




Our training begins with and is fully based on the principles and core truths of Applied Functional Science . Applied Functional Science is a holistic foundation of thought rooted in physical, biological and behavioral sciences that enable us to best evaluate human body movement and how to maximize our capabilities. For example, we believe in training our bodies to move as they are designed to move, in 3D. We train in three dimensions to make sure your key muscle groups and joints move easily in all three planes of motion (front to back, side to side and rotationally).

At Gymnazo we have built Individual Training and three distinct Group Training programs based on these truths. We take these principles and create strategies that feed the techniques you will experience daily in our program.



The core truths of Applied Functional Science.


Derived from principles and provide the plan of action.


Derived from strategies and are the physical actions.

As a result, the programs create an environment of rehabilitation, training, conditioning and performance through 3 dimensional functional movement patterns, chain reaction biomechanics, neuromuscular coordination, and team supported encouragement. 


Being true students we have been influenced by the following amazing people and brands. To us they stand for excellence not only in leadership but as thought leaders in our industry. 

  • Gary Gray, The Gray Institute. He is the father of Applied Functional Science and through his seminars and educational certifications, our team has developed an acute knowledge of biomechanics, restoration techniques and truly how to the strategically unpack the chain reaction of anyone walking through our doors. He is a huge part of our success story and we highly recommend any product/service he is a part of.
  • Train 4 the Game, Austin, TX, we have admired this fitness facility for years. We love their style and believe they are not only a group of quality people but their services are excellent.  

Our Story


Our story is a humble one. It began with a childhood dream, took flight on a beach in Australia, was thwarted by three rejection letters, redirected by an inspiring mentor, fueled by Applied Functional Science, validated by a group of  athletes willing to try something new and formalized by falling in love with a consultant. 

Since rehabbing his beloved puppy's leg in 8th grade, Michael Hughes, middle child in a family of five boys, wanted to become a Physical Therapist. While he loved sports and strength training in high school, it was the dream to fix broken bodies that catapulted him to Fresno State to study Kinesiology. 

While studying abroad in Australia, Michael sat on a beach with a friend contemplating what his next move would be. His childhood friend said, "What about SLO?" Sold. He packed up his room and moved to SLO weeks later with no house, no job and no plan.

After standing at Kennedy Club Fitness handing out business cards to generate enough clients to convince the manager to hire him as a Personal Trainer, Michael had put down some roots in San Luis Obispo (SLO). Still passionate about Physical Therapy, he applied three separate times to leading PT schools. He was rejected each time. 

In a meeting with his mentor Michael reconsidered the core of his dream, to heal people and help them recover from injuries, could still be realized. Michael determined to pursue his dreams and find another way. 

After going to a seminar about Applied Functional Science (AFS), Michael was blown away by the impact Gary Gray was having in the physical therapy world. AFS empowered practitioners to step away from merely treating the symptoms and help them pin point the cause quickly and with greater results. Michael enrolled in the Fellowship of Applied Functional Science and started to integrate restoration strategies and three dimensional movement into his workouts. 

With the recession in 2009, clients started to become more discerning about discretionary income. So Michael could save his clients money and better utilize his time by grouping athletes with similar fitness levels and goals together and create a group circuit for them. Starting with just 18 athletes, Michael started to build a small group training program which he eventually named Gymnazo. The name Gymnazo is from the original Greek word for Gymnasium, which in ancient times meant to "exercise so as to discipline one's mind, body and soul." 

In 2010, Gymnazo was starting to grow and people were interested in joining. He started to wear the many hats of an entrepreneur and eventually met a small business consultant. Charming her from the beginning, Michael eventually fell in love and married Paden. Together they have built Gymnazo to where it is today. She runs the business and he oversees the evolution of Gymnazo's science fueled workouts and coaching staff quality. 













Brand Established: Formerly known as Group Circuit Project, Michael decided his vision to make fitness more holistic and sustainable needed a name. He found Gymnazo (meaning "to exercise to discipline oneself) and rebranded his group training. 

New Program Launched & Team Growth – It hard to address the needs in a single session of varying degrees of fitness and capabilities. With new guests walking in looking for a more welcoming introduction, to long term members wanting to make gains each time, Michael created two different levels of training. Today they are known as G2 and G3. This same year Michael grew his team from two coaches to five coaches.

New Program Launched & Gymnazo Incorporates – It became clear that a final fitness level was needed for the aging population that valued fitness but didn't want to just workout harder, they wanted it to be smarter. Michael created a third level for small group training, now known as G1. Through this evolution it became clear that working out smarter was a competitive advantage and all the programs started to see a greater blend of restoration mixed with fitness. At the very end of this year, gearing up to move out on our own, Gymnazo incorporated. 

New Location & Nutrition - Gymnazo grew inside Kennedy Club Fitness as its own program, we referred to it as our incubator. But in 2013 it became clear that to grow we needed more space and to begin assuming the risks and rewards entrepreneurs crave. We found a location and moved in July to our own 6,000 square feet location. We also brought Lose It for Life with us and they offered nutrition to our members. 

New Soft Tissue  - Injuries happen and nagging pain plagues many athletes, but it always bothered us to not be able to provide a way to treat pain and prohibit injuries, so we added Soft Tissue to our services. This enables us to catch and treat movement pain and discomfort before it creates a larger problem.  


New Location & New Program Launched - In spring 2015 Gymnazo moved into our biggest location yet, with 13,000 square feet, 40 yards or turf and 10,000 square feet of open floor space, we are better able to meet the needs of our growing membership and athletes. 

New Locations – We are always looking for talented leaders who want to build something great in their communities. We believe what we've built in Gymnazo is designed to share with the world. If you are interested in joining this movement, please reach out to us. 




Our staff are not merely trainers. They are coaches; they are here to partner with you in your goals. They have been employed by Gymnazo to apply both their academic knowledge and professional experience to instruct, encourage and partner with each Gymnazo member so that all members maximize their health, fitness and athleticism.

All of the Gymnazo coaches are trained in the truths of Applied Functional Science and are encouraged to continue to enhance their understanding of the science of human movement and how to best leverage this knowledge to promote the wellness of the Gymnazo members. They are trained in behavioral sciences as well, to ensure they understand basic foundations of human motivation and positive reinforcement. 

Meet Our Coaches



Coach & Small Group Programmer

Top 5 Strengths from StrengthFinders 2.0

Maximizer, Adaptability, Command, Strategic, Ideation


  • BS, Kinesiology, Cal Poly SLO
  • CAFS (Certified in Applied Functional Science)
  • FAFS (Fellowship of Applied Functional Science) to be conferred in October 2016.

Coaching Experience

I grew up playing a variety of sports including volleyball, baseball, football and wrestling. As I progressed in my high school career, I developed a strong passion for mentoring and coaching youth athletes. I coached for a local youth wrestling club and youth football program for a few years in Sacramento. When I moved to San Luis Obispo, I coached wrestling at a local high school and headed a local youth wrestling program. I also work with individual athletes to help them reach their full potential through mental and self-discipline. I believe it takes a hard work and strong mental toughness to achieve any goal.

What motivates you in your work/role with Gymnazo?

We were all born with the gift of movement, and each of us has our own strengths. I believe we were all put on this world to help one another become the best humans we can be. Health and fitness play a key role in quality of life, and knowing that everyone who walks through Gymnazo’s doors is part of my family keeps me smiling. Gymnazo provides a very rewarding experience for coaches and athletes looking to maximize their life.

What activities outside the gym bring you joy in life?

Anything outdoors makes me happy. We live in a beautiful place, and life is too short to not maximize what it has to offer! I love taking my dog to the beach, BBQing with my family and friends, listening to country music, and roasting marshmallows at the beach. The ocean is my second home, so you’ll either find me surfing or on the sand!

Favorite exercise at Gymnazo?

Sandbell Slams and SFT Push Ups!  


Nutritionist, Coach

Top 5 Strengths from StrengthFinders 2.0

Achiever, Futuristic, Woo, Positivity, Strategic


  • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill - Biology
  • Affiliate of Institute of Integrative Nutrition (in process)
  • A.C.E. Certified
  • California P.O.S.T Certified
  • Certified in Group Centergy
  • U.S. Soccer Level 1 Coaching Certified

Coaching Experience

I've always been interested in health and fitness beginning  with competitive soccer. I am a four time NCAA Womens Soccer Champion at University of North Carolina, and former Member of U.S Womens Soccer National Team. My love of athletics and fitness and the impact it continues to have in my life propelled me into a career in bringing the same love of fitness and health to others. I have coached in elite performance training facilities, and coached soccer for many years. I've been a personal trainer for years and love the dynamics of small group coaching. 

True health to me is not just in fitness, but spans into nutrition and psychology. This is what attracted me to Gymnazo. In 2012 I started a program called Lose It For Life, designed to help my clients tackle the very real challenge of weight loss in a holistic methodology. Through this program that blended nutrition coaching with fitness, I found my passion for nutrition. Since then I have become an affiliate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and I love working with my clients one on one to help them find the results they have been seeking. 

What motivates you in your work/role with Gymnazo?

Gymnazo represents all the qualities I feel are so important in teaching fitness and healthy lifestyle practices. The level of training and support is awesome, and so supports what my program Lose It For Life! is all about. I'm very excited to come on board as a coach for such a high level program.

What activities outside the gym bring you joy in life?

Playing music, as I'm a guitar player in a local band, The Romany Waters Band, is one of my biggest passions. I love spending time with my friends. I love eating good food. And I love just playing in this beautiful place that we live, hiking, biking, etc.

Favorite exercise at Gymnazo?

I love squats, I love sprinting, and I love thrusters!


Coach & Athlete Performance Programmer

Top 5 Strengths from StrengthFinders 2.0

Harmony, Relator, Arranger, Consistency, Connectedness


Kaleena graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in Animal Science, Zoo and Exotic Animal Care. She also completed a minor in Biology. She completed the Gymnazo coaching internship and holds the following certifications: CPR/AED, NASM Certification, Cal South Class D Coaching License. She is also studying currently for her Certification of Applied Functional Science (CAFS).

Coaching Experience

Kaleena has been coaching youth soccer since 2006. She started with a small assistant role at my high school after she graduated from Cal Poly and worked various soccer camps as an instructor/coach. In 2009, she began as the Assistant Coach for the Girls Varsity Soccer team at San Luis Obispo High School and truly fell in love with coaching there. In 2012, she took over as Head Coach of the Varsity team and has been there ever since. In addition she also currently serves as the Head Coach for the Eagles Soccer Club-Central Coast Girls U14 team. In summer 2014 we were thrilled to have Kaleena as a Gymnazo Intern, and quickly made the decision to add her permanently to our talented team. She is a motivator to her core, passionate about science and truly is a gifted coach.

What motivates you in your work/role with Gymnazo?

The clients and staff. We are truly lucky to work with such an incredible group of individuals every single day. They are so dedicated to themselves and their workouts, and it’s inspiring! I want to serve them to the best of my abilities, and that keeps me motivated to continually better myself as a coach. The staff is so knowledgeable, I have so much to learn from them, which enforces that drive to learn and soak up all that I can from them.

What activities outside the gym bring you joy in life?

Coaching/playing soccer, surfing, hiking, golf, camping, anything that involves being outdoors, cooking, and spending time with friends and family.

Favorite exercise at Gymnazo?

I love Olympic lifts especially Hang Cleans.



Top 5 Strengths from StrengthFinders 2.0
Belief, Responsibility, Achiever, Communication, Arranger

CAFS - Certification of Applied Functional Science; in process

Coaching Experience
Growing up, Kyle played a variety of different sports; soccer, football, and racing downhill mountain bikes. He consistently found himself outdoors and embracing a challenge. During his Sophomore year of High School, he had the opportunity to travel abroad and help lead sports clinics in the townships of South Africa - it is here that he found his passion to help inspire others to maximize their potential. Since then, he has traveled around the world each year helping lead sports clinics in varying locations; Johnannesburg, Cape Town and Hong Kong.

What motivates you in your work/role with Gymnazo?
People and three-dimensional movement. I believe that Gymnazo is setting a new standard in the fitness industry; approaching fitness from a scientific, principle based, three-dimensional foundation. This approach is crucial to the success of Gymnazo's clients both in & out of the facility. I look forward to maximizing my skill set to help others move more effectively in the facility so that they can move more efficiently outside the facility.

What activities outside the gym bring you joy in life?
I absolutely love the outdoors. If there's a beach, hike, lake, BBQ, country music or an adventure involved - there's no doubt I'll be there!

Favorite exercise at Gymnazo?
SFT Lunge Matrix with Overhead Press


Soft Tissue Specialist

Top 5 Strengths from StrengthFinders 2.0

Learner, Achiever, Developer, Positivity, Woo


  • BS, Kinesiology, Cal Poly SLO '06
  • CSCS, National Strength & Conditioning Association
  • CPT, American Council on Exercise
  • CAFS - Certification of Applied Functional Science

Coaching Experience

I started coaching in 2002 as both a skills coach to my high school track & field team, and as a strength coach for after school sports programs. I coached at the high school level for 2 years while getting more & more enamored with the science of training athletes and sports medicine in general. While at SBCC, I worked for two years in the athletic training room serving to assess, prevent, and rehabilitate athletic injuries. I had some of my best teachers here, not only sharing skills, but inspiring passion. When I transferred to Cal Poly, I served as a personal trainer for faculty and students, taught group fitness classes, and became a strength coach for 6 different club sport programs. I studied under Chris Holder, Head of Strength & Condition for athletics, and discovered how much I had to learn through others far more experienced. I feel my experience is unique as it has come from so many unique & completely different sources. 

What motivates you in your work/role with Gymnazo?

We are all gifted, albeit in different ways or attributes, but undeniably gifted. How we treat these gifts, develop them, activate them, & share them, speaks to our character. Many people haven't discovered how wonderful training is yet. It doesn't make them bad, they just haven't been made aware of how awesome they're going to feel when they start using their physical gifts. That's our job & it sounds fun to me! I chose to train at Gymnazo because of the people. I love Michael & Paden, and Michael's affinity for helping people experience transformation & success through movement. The other staff are a rare find, both in their craft & caring approach. I'm honored to be a part of this team.

What activities outside the gym bring you joy in life?

I love being active outdoors, especially surfing, trail running, cycling in groups, and activating my body physically in any other challenging way.

Favorite exercise at Gymnazo?

Sled pulls!


   - Top 5 Strengths for Strength Finders 2.0:
      Positivity, Individualization, Restorative, Learner, Arranger
   - Education
     CAFS - Certified in Applied Functional Science, 200hr yoga teacher training
   - Coach Experience
    Since I was young my biggest passion has always been to help people in any way possible. My teaching career started with yoga in 2010, I loved the sense of community and the ability to be apart of people's journey to health and personal betterment. I taught classes for touring top 40 music artists, and annual retreats for General Motors. 
   - What motivates you in your work/role with Gymnazo?
My biggest motivation for my role in Gymnazo is the honor to be apart of someone's day. No one has 'extra time', life is so short - if someone is going to chose to spent whatever amount of precious time they have at Gymnazo, I will give them everything I have.

   - What activities outside the gym bring you joy in life?
Outside of the gym I love hiking! It is SO beautiful here, I cannot get enough of it.
.... And cooking. I'm a total foodie. You can always get me to talk about new places to eat, or excited to share what we've been making at home.
  - Favorite exercise at Gymnazo?
Hands down favorite exercise is a super heavy sled push- it makes me feel so tough! 


Founder, Coach

Top 5 Strengths from StrengthFinders 2.0

Belief, Relator, Learner, Input, Command


California State University, Fresno B.S. in Kinesiology, Fellowship of Applied Functional Science, ISSA Certified Personal Trainer, Titleist Performance Institute- Golf Fitness Instructor, Titleist Performance Institute- Junior Golf Coach, Post Rehab Conditioning Specialist.

Coaching Experience

Played Baseball, Football and Track and Field through high school years. Started a physical training regiment in the 7th grade which prompted the development of customized workout programs for friends. Was a certified personal trainer from 2004- 2006 at a corporate gym which enabled me to practically apply my Kinesiology studies. When I moved to SLO, I started working at San Luis Sports Therapy, aiding the in-house therapists while simultaneously training individuals at Athlon Elite, a sport performance training facility, and at Kennedy Club Fitness. In 2009, I supplemented my coaching, working at the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy as its fitness director during its inaugural year. While a personal trainer at the Kennedy Club Fitness, I co-founded a group fitness circuit training program which catapulted me into something much bigger!. My passionate interest in the fitness benefits of the functional movement style of training led me to the Gray Institute and its Fellowship of Applied Functional Science and I jumped right into its educational program...and Gymnazo was created and formed as a result of it!

What motivates you in your work/role with Gymnazo?

Being blessed with the opportunity to create and build a training environment that encourages transformation in people's lives! In my previous training roles, when clients would experience pain or movement dysfunction, I desperately wanted to help but couldn't due to limited knowledge and resources. Because Gymnazo is based on A.F.S.methodology, we now have the tools and the network of resources to not only ease the pain and correct the dysfunction but to significantly enhance physical movement and improve athletic performance.

What activities outside the gym bring you joy in life?

Wake boarding, Snowboarding, Trail Hiking, and golf.

Favorite exercise at Gymnazo?

The Jumping Jack matrices! It's the ultimate ability to simply and completely challenge the entire body in agility, coordination and skill sequencing.  


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Gymnazo established an Internship Program in 2011 to provide an opportunity for local Cal Poly and Cuesta students, majoring in the dynamic field of health and fitness, to learn the foundation and principles of Applied Functional Science and then to immediately apply that knowledge via direct hands on experience at the Gymnazo facility in San Luis Obispo.

Each Intern assumes the roles of an athlete (participant), a coach (teacher) and a teammate (encourager) throughout the program. We partner with Cal Poly's Kinesiology Department as well as NASM to offer additional educational opportunities for students looking to make fitness a career. 

The Internship Program will cover the following four areas:

Education – Interns participate in weekly lectures on topics covering coaching techniques, exercise physiology, chain reaction biomechanics, functional assessment/ rehab strategies, and program design. The curriculum will focus on learning how Applied Functional Science is applicable to the different elements of physical training including but not limited to performance, injury prevention and rehabilitation.

Coaching – Interns learn how to execute the Gymnazo training methodology in both small group settings, semi-private, and one-on-one sessions for the entire demographic range of Gymnazo members. This immersion allows the interns to learn the science behind the training, but more importantly, the application of that knowledge when coaching solo or as a part of a team.

Facility Maintenance:

Interns will be required to embrace the importance of maintaining a clean and well organized facility and how that plays into the Gymnazo "brand".



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You matter to us. If you would like to reach out and connect with us, we would be happy to make time for you. We look forward to hearing from you.





  • Monday: 6am- 7pm (Please note, our front desk hours are 7am- 5pm)
  • Tuesday: 6am- 7pm (Please note, our front desk hours are 7am- 5pm)
  • Wednesday: 6am- 7pm (Please note, our front desk hours are 7am- 5pm)
  • Thursday: 6am- 6:30pm (Please note, our front desk hours are 7am- 5pm)
  • Friday: 6am- 6:30pm (Please note, our front desk hours are 8am- 12noon this day)
  • Saturday: 7am - 1pm (The front desk is closed on Saturdays)
  • Sunday: Rest Day


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