The First Couple Of Fitness
Egan and Marcia Inoue know firsthand that success only comes to those who are willing to struggle. At Egan’s Bootcamp, the couple instills that mindset into their clients, helping people achieve their goals in fitness — and beyond.
A cursory glance at the life of Egan Inoue looks like a series of huge successes. At various points in his life, Egan has been a No. 1 international racquetball player, a world champion mixed martial arts fighter and, currently, an entrepreneur alongside wife Marcia as the owners of the popular Egan’s Bootcamp.
That’s why it may come as a surprise that one of his most recent ventures is a book all about the failures he’s had. In Becoming Relentless, which was released last year, Egan details strings of shortcomings and missteps. When he first decided to go pro in racquetball, for instance, he quit school at UH — and then proceeded to lose every single match that season. And when he and Marcia wanted to start their own gym, their initial effort failed.
But now, Egan and Marcia are at the top of their game. Egan’s Bootcamp conducts about 150 classes per week in three locations (Aiea, Honolulu and Kailua), with more than 1,000 members and 50 employees.
In order to get here, the Inoues have indeed faced failures, forcing them to reevaluate, and in some cases, begin again. It’s the ability to push through those struggles that has been the hallmark of their success — which is precisely the attitude that they try to instill in their Bootcamp members.
“(People) can have whatever they want,” Egan says, but “they got to be willing to struggle.”
Egan’s foray into professional sports began with a defeat — by his mother. His mom played racquetball as a hobby, and one day when he was 16, she asked him to join her for a game.
“I thought I was this really good athlete, and I was like, ‘yeah, I would love to come beat you in racquetball,'” Egan recalls. “And then I got smashed. I could not beat her.”
He resolved to not quit until he could.
He went on to join the U.S. Olympic team and became a two-time world champion.
After retiring from racquetball, Egan took up martial arts, winning multiple world titles in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and MMA. While fighting professionally, he also opened a gym, Grappling Unlimited, to train other fighters — many of whom also went on to win world titles.
Marcia, meanwhile, was an event planner, often throwing large fundraisers.
Marcia had always been active, but by the time she met Egan — the couple recently celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary — she admits that as a busy executive, exercising often got pushed aside. But when Egan showed her that working out for just 30 minutes could be effective, she took her fitness to a new level.
“My body started changing really quickly with these short, intense workouts,” she recalls.
“I was able to lean out fairly quickly. My body also became stronger, more toned and I dropped two clothing sizes.”
It was that sort of result that they wanted to share with others in starting their own gym.
Things, however, didn’t go quite as planned.
Egan already had Grappling Unlimited, but the couple wanted to create a space that catered to general fitness. In 2006, Marcia quit her job as an event planner, and Egan quit his as a pharmaceutical rep, in order to launch a gym with a heavy martial arts influence.
“It just failed miserably,” Egan recalls.
They struggled with attracting an audience, and with staffing. At a certain point, it became clear that it wasn’t working out, and they found themselves at a crossroads: “It was either we are going to go out of business and go back to our corporate jobs, or we are going to figure this out,” Marcia explains.
They went with the latter. “Even if it was failing, I really enjoyed it — I enjoyed it more than competing — this was what I really liked doing,” Egan says.
Figuring it out meant revamping the business in order to make the workouts accessible to a wider audience.
“We transitioned into trying to help more people — make it less intimidating with short, fun workouts,” Marcia explains.
The revamp also meant that Egan had to change his coaching style. In training fighters, Egan was used to pushing people to their absolute limits (clients at their old gym threw up so often that they had buckets on hand explicitly for that purpose). But that didn’t really work for the layperson, and Egan had to learn to be encouraging rather than berating.
The changes worked.
Things started small, out of one tiny studio, but picked up quickly: On their first day, they had 40 people. Within just three months, they had opened two additional locations.
Each class at Egan’s Bootcamp is a 30-minute session, with 20 minutes of high intensity. The classes incorporate items including medicine balls, sandbags, dumbbells and pull-up bars. One day a week, classes focus on MMA and boxing.
“We are working the chest, triceps, shoulders, but in a functional way where you may be picking up something, or you may be pushing something — like in a real-life situation that you have to use all those muscles all at once,” Egan explains.
As Bootcamp general manager Heather Wong, who first joined as a member in 2010, puts it, “It’s hard to find an exciting workout that really challenges you and pushes you to your limits. This is it. It can be addictive, I won’t lie — you never want to miss a workout, and when you do, you can’t wait to get back on the mat.”
In addition to physical fitness, the Inoues also incorporate healthy eating into the program, with coaches available to double as nutrition counselors.
Beyond all that, though, a large part of what seems to make Egan’s Bootcamp so successful is the community that has sprouted up within it.
Back in 2012, when Renee Rivera first attended a free beach bootcamp, which takes place the first Saturday of each month at Ala Moana Beach Park, as a favor to a friend, she was nervous. She was out of shape and worried how the instructors would react if she couldn’t keep up.
What she found instead was a warm, welcoming environment.
“The coaches were so supportive — they didn’t make you feel embarrassed that you weren’t in good shape, and they didn’t make you feel bad for not being able to do all of the exercises,” she recalls.
She liked it so much that she enlisted her husband, John, to join her for the next session — and five years later, they’re both avid Bootcamp members.
“Everybody is so supportive,” Renee adds. “Everybody is encouraging, and you don’t feel like you are just a number.”
“Everyone is passionate about getting better,” Wong adds. “It’s just full of positive achievers!”
At this point, being business partners for more than 10 years, the Inoues are a well-oiled machine. While they both handle different spheres of the operation — Egan creates the workouts, while Marcia handles the business end — they always come together to discuss their work and exchange advice.
By both of their accounts, Egan is the idea guy, and Marcia is the one who will implement the steps to bring those ideas to life. And, Egan jokes, he has a foolproof way for testing out his ideas: “I run it by her, and if her eyes roll…”
One of the recent ventures to pass the eye-roll test is CryoTherapy Hawaii, a spa that offers cryotherapy treatment, which can be associated with a range of benefits, everything from healing injuries to decreasing stress and increasing energy.
For all the success that Egan’s Bootcamp has had so far, the couple has even loftier goals for the future. Next up, they’re expanding the Kailua location — the new space will be three times the size of the current one. They plan to open at least two more locations on the island — and after that, they’re toying with the idea of possibly expanding outside of the islands via online coaching.
“We just want to help more people feel good about themselves,” Marcia says.
“Our tagline for Bootcamp is, ‘you deserve to feel amazing,'” she continues, “and I think everyone does deserve to feel amazing. It doesn’t matter what weight you are, you deserve to feel great in your body, and so many people don’t.”
When John and Renee first started going to the beach bootcamps, they had largely given up on being healthy. They’d tried it all — other gyms, fad diets — but nothing seemed to stick.
“My doctor told me I was heading down a path I shouldn’t be down,” recalls John, a UPS driver. “My cholesterol was off the charts, my blood pressure was off the charts.”
“(My doctor) was always stressing for me to lose weight, and I just never really took it seriously,” admits Renee, a paralegal and operations manager at a law firm. “At that point, I was already over 40 and just kinda over it; I didn’t really think about it.”
Now, the couple has lost about 70 pounds each, John competes in triathlons, and they both run marathons.
“My cholesterol is down, my blood pressure is down,” John says, “and everything about my life is just way better.”
Not only are they healthier, but they also say that their marriage is stronger now, as Egan’s Bootcamp and running have become hobbies that they share together.
“It took us years to get to where we are now, but it has been an amazing journey for both of us,” Renee says.
In their five years of going to Egan’s Bootcamp, husband and wife John and Renee Rivera have transformed into avid athletes.
In their spare time, they run marathons, and John also is a coach at the Aiea location.
The wall of Egan and Marcia’s office is lined with photos of people just like John and Renee.
“Almost all these people came in thinking they couldn’t do something, and then you see how amazing their transformations are,” Marcia says as she scans the wall.
It’s precisely those kinds of transformations that prompted Egan and Marcia to push forward when they were at that crossroads before starting Bootcamp. Sure, it probably would have been easier to go back to their corporate jobs. But this, they say, is where their passion truly lies.
“What I like is when someone says that they can’t do a squat because their knees hurt,” Egan says, “so we take it little by little, and each day, they get better and better, and after a month or two, they are doing a full squat.
“People walk out of here and think, ‘Oh, my gosh, I don’t know how I pushed so hard,’ and ‘Oh, my gosh, I can’t believe I could do that’ — and that is what I like. It is just little things like that that add to their confidence — it’s the confidence they build by overcoming obstacles or breaking down mental barriers that they have.”
“It’s not just the weight — everything about them changes,” Marcia says. “So many other things in their lives end up changing because they feel good about themselves — they feel stronger, they feel like now they can do things that they never thought they could do.”
For more information on Egan’s Bootcamp, visit hawaiifitcamp.com.