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. 

Certification 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 certification 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. 

Why we built a fitness model that is unique

Knowing that the above to be a common experience for many of those we hope to train at Gymnazo, we decided to approach fitness and wellness differently. We invest a lot of time and money into the education and advancement of our team of coaches. We know they will be the trusted resources many of our members will ask tough questions of and we need to ensure they provide accurate and insightful responses. 


The fitness industry needs to keep evolving. Athletes need a place that is credible, innovative and highly educated to trust in the planning of their fitness journey.  Finding the balance between performance and restoration is critical to a sustainable fitness plan.  Gymnazo is here to provide a personalized path for each and every athlete that walks through our door.

We created Gymnazo to blend restoration with performance so everyone walking through our doors knows 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. 

  • Dr. Gary Gray & Dr. Dave Tiberio, The Gray Institute. Gary Gray is known as the father of Function.  Through Gary's and Dave's 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. They are a huge part of our success story and we highly recommend any product/service the Gray Institute is a part of.
  • Train 4 the Game, Austin, TX, we have admired this fitness facility and 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 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 reading Arnold Schwarzenegger Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding from cover to cover in the 7th 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 but a plan.

After standing in 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 two 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 was 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 root 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 of an athlete 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 started to offer nutrition coaching services 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 more detailed 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. 



COAching beliefs



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 Team


    Founder and Movement Specialist


    Movement Specialist and Head Programmer










    Member Services Manager and Operations Coordinator




    Member Services and Operations Coordinator

Top 5 Strengths from StrengthFinders 2.0

Belief, Relator, Learner, Input, Command


California State University, Fresno B.S. in Kinesiology

FAFS (Fellowship of Applied Functional Science)

CAFS (Certified in 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

Growing up I played Baseball, Football and Track and Field. I started a physical training regiment in the 7th grade which prompted the development of customized workout programs for friends. I 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?

Wakeboarding, 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.

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)

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!

Top 5 Strengths from StrengthFinders 2.0

Harmony, Relator, Arranger, Consistency, Connectedness


BS, Animal Science, Zoo and Exotic Animal Care and Minor in Biology, Cal Poly SLO

CAFS (Certified in Applied Functional Science)

NASM Certified

Cal South Class D Coaching License- Soccer

Coaching Experience

I've been coaching youth soccer since 2006. I started with a small assistant role at my high school after I graduated from Cal Poly and worked various soccer camps as an instructor/coach. In 2009, I 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. From 2012-2015, I took over as Head Coach of the Varsity team. In addition I also serve as the Head Coach for the Eagles Soccer Club-Central Coast Girls U14 team. I joined Gymnazo in 2014 have been coaching small group sessions as well as developing an athlete training program for young athletes looking to improve their game.

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

Relator, Communication, Developer, Woo, Harmony


BS, Kinesiology, Cal Poly

CAFS (Certified in Applied Functional Science)

Coaching Experience

I was always an athletic kid. I participated in just about everything from swimming to dancing to track to basketball, but by high school I settled on putting most of my effort into soccer. I played club from 8th grade up until my senior year at Cal Poly. Soccer is something I will always enjoy doing and something I hope to continue playing for a long time. While I don't have any formal coaching experience, I was a tutor all throughout my high school and college careers. I enjoy being able to help people and learn and better themselves.

What motivates you in your work/role with Gymnazo?

The people around me every day. Everyone who shows up at Gymnazo, shows up because they want to be there. The atmosphere and sense of community that has been created here by the staff and the clients is unrivaled. Everyone loves to come here, which makes it fun and enjoyable for me to coach and keeps me coming back every day!

What activities outside the gym bring you joy in life?

I love to dance and listen to music, play soccer, go to the beach, be outside, eat good food, and laugh and hangout out with my friends.

Favorite exercise at Gymnazo?

SFT squats and hip drives!

Top 5 Strengths from StrengthFinders 2.0

Achiever, Restorative, Individualizations, Responsibility, Focus


Kinesiology degree (in progress)

CAFS (Certified in Applied Functional Science)

TRX Basic Training and Group Training


Coaching Experience

I have been a personal trainer for the past 5 years of which was spent in the Bay Area, San Diego and in San Luis Obispo. I played soccer and baseball growing up but soccer was the one that stuck around my whole life. I played through high school and after that I continued in recreation leagues and also started coaching freshman soccer for the three years following graduation.

What motivates you in your work/role with Gymnazo?

What motivates me at Gymnazo is the constant push to be better than yesterday. The strive to find the solution and improve all aspects of work and life.This helps provide the motivation to continually want to do a better job.

What activities outside the gym bring you joy in life?

Outside of the gymnazo I like to do out door activities like paddle boarding, hiking, trail running, or just keep leisurely and hang out with friends.

Favorite exercise at Gymnazo?

My favorite exercise at Gymnazo's involves anything that requires a VIPR.

Top 5 Strengths from StrengthFinders 2.0

Responsibility, Relator, Empathy, Achiever, Belief

Business Experience

Since 2008 I worked in medical billing for a local doctors office. During my time there I managed the schedule for the staff, delegated tasks, ran payroll, and ultimately oversaw all insurance billing. I even assisted on the medical side, taking vitals and give injections etc. During this time I really enjoyed helping patients and helping reassure them about their billing and helping comfort them not matter the health issue. I also loved tracking down the details and geeking out on data analysis.

What motivates you in your role at Gymnazo?

I really enjoy customer service where I can make a member smile and help them with whatever they need. Whenever they thank me for helping them and being pleasant; it makes me feel warm inside. I also love assisting our coaches and making their lives easier because they do so much for other people.

What activities outside the gym bring you joy in life?

Outside the gym, I love horsing, it’s very therapeutic for me. I love being outdoors whether it’s hiking or riding my motorcycle.

Favorite exercise at Gymnazo?

I like any exercises that incorporate sled pushes or TRX suspension.

Top 5 Strengths from StrengthFinders 2.0

Activator, Strategic, Communication, Learner, Woo

Business Experience

As the President and co-owner of Gymnazo, I oversee strategic planning, customer service, company finances, marketing and manage our team of talented trainers and office staff. I'm most passionate about planning Gymnazo's growth, measuring it and guiding it to be the most effective business model it can be. I enjoy seeing people realize their health and fitness goals and the role we play in their accomplishments. To sustain my passion for entrepreneurship and small businesses, I currently work with several clients as a small business consultant. I work with entrepreneurs and business owners who are seeking to improve and adjust their strategies to position themselves for larger long term growth.

What motivates you in your role at Gymnazo?

My biggest motivation for my role in Gymnazo is finding solutions and seeing results whether it's growing our talent base to expanding our services to monetizing a large space. Like many of our members, I love setting goals and working hard to acheive them. I'm blessed to work with some of the most amazing innovators in fitness. I'm also thankful my husband and I have the opportunity to grow Gymnazo together and combine our passions.

What activities outside the gym bring you joy in life?

I love anything competitive from golf to board games to Tough Mudder events. I also love exploring new places and trying new things. I also enjoy traveling, tropical vacations, and coffee dates with good friends.

Favorite exercise at Gymnazo?

Agility exercises specificlly with the speed ladder. It reminds me why I loved soccer and dance growing up: foot/eye coordination.

Top 5 Strengths from StrengthFinders 2.0

Discipline, Empathy, Achiever, Maximizer, Responsibility

Business Experience

I have done a little of everything. I've been a 1st grade teacher, an art teacher, a business owner, a florist, and an office administrator, and I've learned something about myself in each of these roles. Mostly, what ultimately fulfills me is meeting new people and making new connections.

What motivates you in your role at Gymnazo?

I had already been a Gymnazo member for 3 years before getting this opportunity to join the team. To come to a workplace that is brimming with enthusiasm, positivity, and a strong sense of community is the best I could ask for. I am excited to do my best and add to this team of excellence.

What activities outside the gym bring you joy in life?

Outside of the gym, I am big on home renovation, gardening, and time with my family. My husband and I have been slowly remodeling our home for 7 years, and we might finally be able to see a (tiny) light at the end of the tunnel. My happy place is outside, in the garden.

Favorite exercise at Gymnazo?

The sledgehammer! I like the coordination that is involved, but I really love slamming that huge hammer with full force.

Top 5 Strengths from StrengthFinders 2.0

Relator, Learner, Responsibility, Analytical, Self Assurance


Kinesiology degree (in progress)

CAFS (Certified in Applied Functional Science)-in progress


Coaching Experience

As a kid, I was slow to warm up to athletics. I danced, played soccer (ate orange slices), swam, and spent a few years on the golf course. I didn’t get serious about fitness until high school when I discovered gyms and weightlifting. I have practiced bodybuilding, Crossfit, and powerlifting and finally landed on functional training. I got a training certification right out of high school and have been loving my time as a personal trainer and small group coach since 2015.

What motivates you in your role at Gymnazo?

The people. It has always been about the athletes and members. I have seen and felt the power of exercise to bring people confidence and help them regain control in many areas of their lives. Health is a gift that keeps on giving, and I count myself lucky to be able to work together with individuals to improve their fitness and wellbeing. The commitment of everyone I work with is remarkable; it is that commitment that fuels my passion for health, fitness education, and coaching.

What activities outside the gym bring you joy in life?

Give me a beach and I’ll be happy. I enjoy hiking, hammocking, driving, cooking, sketching, music, and eating.

Favorite exercise at Gymnazo?

I’m always down for sandbell slams or sledgehammer work! Also love anything with a barbell.


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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 7:30am- 5:30pm)
  • Tuesday: 6am- 7pm (Please note, our front desk hours are 7:30am- 5:30pm)
  • Wednesday: 6am- 7pm (Please note, our front desk hours are 7:00am- 5:30pm)
  • Thursday: 6am- 6:30pm (Please note, our front desk hours are 7:00am- 5:30pm)
  • Friday: 6am- 6:30pm (Please note, our front desk hours are 7am- 12noon this day)
  • Saturday: 7am - 12pm (The front desk is closed on Saturdays)
  • Sunday: Rest Day


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