An Interview with Mike Verdugo and Trey Opp of BodyTek
By Gregg Shapiro
When it comes to fitness, I always say that I get all of my exercise jumping to conclusions and running off at the mouth. But then I see people such as Mike Verdugo and Trey Opp, the owners and operators of the South Florida-based fitness studios BodyTek and I think, “These are the results you get when you dedicate time and energy to a workout regimen.” Fitness and training has been good for Verdugo and Opp. Not only in their exceptional physical appearance, but also in their successful BodyTek business which includes locations in Davie, Wilton Manors, Wynwood-Miami, Boca Raton, Pompano Beach, Weston, and soon to come Pembroke Pines. Mike and Trey took time out of their busy schedules to answer a few questions shortly before Pride month.
Gregg Shapiro: When did you first become interested in physical fitness and training?
Mike Verdugo: Born and raised in Miami, I started in fitness when I was 13 years. It’s been a huge part of my life. I started working at Gold’s Gym from 13, 14 until I was 22. I left for 10 years to become a cop. Now I’m back into fitness as a business owner. But I’ve always worked out.
Trey Opp: I knew growing up that I wanted to get into fitness. At a young age as well, around 13, 14, I started getting into it, teaching myself all the different things that I could. When I moved down here at 18, I met Mike and it all fell into place.
GS: You moved to Florida from where?
TO: North Dakota.
GS: Different weather, huh?
TO: Completely [laughs]!
GS: Mike, you mentioned your career in law enforcement. Would you say that your interest in fitness was also related to your being on the Hollywood, Florida police force?
MV: I always preach, fitness is a lifestyle. It’s a way of life for me and it’s all I knew from an early age. When I got into the police academy, I was always in shape. When I became a cop, I was in charge of the SWAT Team fitness program. I was in charge of their fitness program. It’s always followed me.
GS: Mike and Trey, you co-own and operate BodyTek, meaning that you are business partners, as well as being partners in life. What are the rewards and challenges of that kind of work arrangement?
MV: [Takes a deep breath and smiles] it’s tough. It looks nice and pretty on the outside [laughs]. We tend to both be workaholics, so it’s hard to not bring it home. The good thing is that we have multiple studios. We don’t see each other that much because he goes to one studio and I’m at another. We aren’t working together constantly. But when we get home, we tend to talk about work.
GS: There’s no downtime.
TO: We’re also very different people. He’s more of a go-getter, get-it-done. I’m more of an analyzer. I have more of an edge on technology and how things work.
MV: We play well off each other in that sense.
GS: You complement each other.
MV: Yes, we do. We look at things differently, which is good.
GS: BodyTek currently has several locations in South Florida. Are there plans to it take to other regions?
MV: We have gone that route. Quality control is a hard issue. We opened up in Texas. We had issues with them not…
TO:…sticking to the brand.
MV: We rolled it back. We do get a lot of franchise inquiries from out of state, but there’s no rush for us.
TO: We’re about keeping everything strong brand-oriented, keeping the name alive in the best possible way.
MV: We have enough room here in Florida alone. We can grow here.
TO: The ultimate goal in the end would be to have BodyTek nationwide.
GS: In 2008, Mike, you were a contestant on the competition HGBT show, Design Star. Can you please say something about your interest in design? For example, is this Wilton Manors studio space a reflection of your design style?
MV: Yes, this studio. I love design. It’s always been a big part of my life. That’s something we always get complimented on. Everyone loves our studios, they love the colors. They love the aesthetics of it. I like to say, I had something to do with it.
GS: While we’re on the subject of design, I can see that you, Mike, have tattoos. Trey, do you have any?
TO: None at all.
GS: I think there is also a design element to tattoos, so what can you tell me about the significance of your ink, Mike?
MV: It’s so funny, I was just talking about this the other day. I have a yin-yang right here (points to right shoulder) for balance. That was my first tattoo. As my life was getting more complete, I kept adding stuff to it. I’m very balanced [points to matching bicep tattoos].
GS: Are you a Libra?
MV: No, I’m a Cancer. I also have two tattoos, one here and one here [points to his left and right calves]. When I design, I design in balance.
GS: We’re talking a few weeks before Wilton Manors’ Stonewall Pride festival, where BodyTek is going to have a presence. With this being the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York, leading to the birth of the gay liberation movement, what does such an historical event mean to you as gay men?
TO: I’m only 24 and I didn’t really know much about it. I had to learn all about it.
MV: I think the younger generation has it a little bit easier now. My brother Chris is two and a half years older than me, and he is gay, as well. I look at him as a pioneer. He paved the way. He didn’t care what people called him, and I was there when they called him names. I look up to him.
GS: So, you had someone in your family paving the way for you, too.
MV: Yes. There are a lot of gays in my family. I have gay uncles and a bunch of cousins. My brother is actually the executive director of the Gay Men’s Chorus of San Francisco. They won the Audience Award at the Tribeca Film Festival for their documentary Gay Chorus Deep South. I’m really proud of him.