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SNEWS Qs: Barry McGeough talks water, Zumba and lessons for the fitness industry

SNEWS recently caught up with McGeough, who updated us on all Speedos’ plans in the fitness industry.

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Barry McGeough has spent the majority of his career in the outdoor industry, first working for The North Face, then Teva and Deckers Outdoor Corporation. Now, with the partnership between Speedo and Aqua Zumba, the vice president of hard goods at Speedo USA is making a splash in the fitness industry.


The swimwear giant Speedo recently became the official licensee of Aqua Zumba to design all the activity’s swimsuits, water shoes and accessories — like the upcoming Speedo Wrist Resistance gloves and two styles of water shoes that look like ballet flats, but are made of neoprene and Lycra.

“We’re completely reinventing footwear for the Zumba style,” McGeough said. The shoes, he added “are not just for use in the pool, they’re really good for vacation, while on a cruise or resort. They’re beautiful pieces of footwear that are a stitchless, glueless innovative construction.”

SNEWS recently caught up with McGeough, who updated us on all Speedo’s plans (including its upcoming footwear launch, which includes a running shoe for triathletes that you can read about on our outdoor page), the trends he’s spotting in fitness and what the fitness industry could learn from the outdoor industry.

What trends in the fitness world are you noticing?
In the fitness world there’s a bigger push to do all kinds of different activities. People these days are doing yoga, P90X, CrossFit, Spinning, but they’re also involved in Zumba, which is a really big deal.

People are working aquatic fitness into their fitness regimens because it’s no impact and high aerobic. Whether you’re doing triathlons or Aqua Zumba, you need footwear for all of this, so Speedo is introducing a line of technical footwear to meet the demands of people who are working aquatic into their fitness routines.

People are looking at HIIT training — high-intensity interval training — and wondering, how can I mix up my workout so I’m not just doing the same thing all the time?

Why did Speedo partner with Zumba?
Right now, there are 14 million Zumba classes worldwide every week. Zumba is gigantic. It’s in 120 countries and its biggest non-gym initiative is Aqua Zumba, which is growing at a 100 percent rate every year. They reached out to us and said they wanted the Speedo expertise in the water because there are problems they didn’t know how to solve.

What are some of those problems?
One of the problems in Aqua Zumba is when you’re in the water, your chest is at the top of the water line and your feet are at the bottom and you have to move quickly. You want your feet to move fast enough to keep up with the dance moves so since they’re moving faster in deeper water; you get too much workout in your legs and not enough in your arms. We balance that out with our new Wrist Resistance [gloves] to increase the workout in your arms.

That will be available for our launch in December 2013.

What is the attraction to Aqua Zumba?
The phrase that Zumba uses is “exercise in disguise.” One thing that’s really appealing about all Zumba classes is that they are very fun and very social. The appeal of Aqua Zumba is that it’s no impact and that makes it really appealing for people doing sports rehabilitation and those who need or want a no-impact workout.

Are you looking to partner with any other fitness companies?
Right now we are partnering with Phit America. They’re a legislative and social media call to action organization formed to address the obesity epidemic. What they’re trying to do is change the legislation to allow a flexible medical spending account for obesity prevention measures. They’re really great, and they get involved in the conversation and offer solutions for the obesity epidemic. Companies like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Sports Authority are among the participating 130 members in the sporting goods industry, and we’re proud to be part of it.

What are some of your favorite aspects of working in the fitness industry?
I spent most of my career in the oudoor industry. Being in the sporting goods industry is really fascinating. I think that they are learning a lot about the camaraderie between brands that occurs more naturally in the outdoor space. I think that’s very, very interesting.

All of my career, I put together technical product. Now I have the ability to put everything I’ve learned biomechanically about running — everything I learned at Teva — together in an aquatic biomechanic filter. Being able to talk about running biomechanics and translate that into swimming biomechanics — the need for resistance, drag, water flow — those things are really fascinating.

I find it a fascinating industry. I feel strongly about the obesity epidemic. I have the opportunity to be part of the solution, [and help people] feel better, look better and be healthier.

What are some things you’re hoping will catch on in the fitness industry that you witnessed in the outdoor industry?
I will say that championing the grassroots athlete [versus the professional athlete] is something that we’re very used to in the outdoor space, and it’s relatively new in the [fitness] space. Usually the athletes who we talk about are the Olympians, but I’m finding it fascinating that as an industry we’re looking more at everyday athletes and daily heroes, and the possibility that anyone can find their personal best.