Maurizio Pelone (left) and José Palau (right)José Palau, who worked as director of equity trading at Waverly Advisors with Andrew Barber, is making an aggressive bet on the fitness sector these days.
Right now, Palau, who has more than eight years experience in finance, is getting ready to launch Aura Fitness— a boutique fitness studio based in Los Angeles that specialises in indoor spinning and yoga.
“We were managing a fund. I kind of had this, you know, life change where I wanted to start working in fitness and leave finance.”
An accomplished rock and ice climber, Palau, and his business partner, Maurizio Pelone, a professional swimmer and fitness trainer, will be launching Aura’s flagship spin and yoga studios in West Hollywood this week.
Aura Fitness consists of two separate boutiques — Aura Cycle and Aura Yoga. Aura Cycle offers an indoor cycling experience and Aura Yoga is heated yoga somewhat like hot yoga, but a little more active, Palau explained.
“The idea will be that our clients do both cycling and yoga really focusing on the body, mind, building endurance and toning up,” he told Business Insider.
While this is a completely different industry from finance, Palau said that he brought a lot of the concepts that he learned on the Street, especially from trading, to this business.
What happened was originally Pelone, a close friend and pro swimmer from Italy, approached him about investing in Aura Fitness in March of 2012.
After doing some due diligence, Pelau realised he really loved it. For him, Aura was a “life style change” he said, adding that he dropped close to 50 pounds and is now a lot healthier.
“One of the things that I was able to apply from equity trading is understanding these shifts that you have within industries and new trends that are developing,” he said.
He said that working on Aura was like a really “aggressive bet into the sector.”
He explained that their industry, which is the boutique fitness studio, is a subsector in the fitness industry has seen tremendous growth over the past couple of years.
“It’s almost like a new renaissance in fitness where people don’t want to go to these big gyms anymore,” Palau said, adding, “Instead, they’re going these more specialised little communities which offer better experience because they’re more focused on the activities they want, they get to interact with instructors a lot more and meet the people there.”
He also noted that there aren’t really that many boutique operators in the U.S. besides Core Power Yoga, Soul Cycle and a couple others.
Palau and Pelone will start operating their own chain of boutique gyms in L.A.
Palau, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in finance and economics, was based in New York when he was working for Waverly.
“You know I love trading,” he said, adding, “The good thing about being on the west coast is I can wake up and have the market open.”
He explained what it’s like trading on the west coast versus the east coast.
Trading activity on the west coast is based around the open and the close — 6:30 a.m. and noon to 1 p.m.
“It’s not that bad. In the morning, you’re more refreshed even though it’s three hours different. You think a lot better. It’s really quiet.”
He said that working out can help tremendously with trading.
“Working out, you will also find that, especially if you’re more of an active trader, emotion is a big part, and when you are working out you are releasing all this energy. You’re calm, you have endorphins. Instead of going to happy hour you’re going to yoga and really balancing your life a lot more.”
Since working on Aura, he admitted that he hasn’t been trading as much. He told us that he intends to get back into trading after Aura launches.
Palau said he’s been really happy with his decision to work on Aura during the last year.
“Finally seeing it actually come true is something that’s great,” he said, “One thing, I kind of realised is that doing this and entrepreneurship is really similar to trading. As a trader, one of my views is that you’re getting paid to hold risk for other people, same thing in entrepreneurship.”
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