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You may feel like busting a move after entering one of David Barton Gym's downtown locations. They were, after all, patterned with nightclubs in mind, with Barton's eighties club-diva wife Susanne Bartsch influencing the décor of the Shop, an on-site store within the Astor Place location. Body sculpting and personal training are the national gym franchise’s focus, with 30 to 70 experienced trainers at each location, hand-selected by Barton himself. There are also intense spin, Pilates, yoga, and cardio classes offered with playful names like Ass Blast, Guns, and Blood Sweat 'n Tears. For Barton, attention to detail and a convivial atmosphere are key. For instance, when you swing open the skull-handled doors of the three-story Chelsea outpost—which is also the one Barton, a Cornell grad and award-winning bodybuilder, frequents—you’re faced with oversize bronze-framed mirrors, thumping beats by a rotating cast of D.J.'s, and warm lighting. Barton’s slinky Astor Place location, a 40,000-square-foot megagym, holds the pièce de résistance: a D.J. booth shaped like a disco ball, which once resided in now-defunct nightclub Happy Valley. With an aesthetic that leans toward "Victorian punk," candles line the lobby, large signs mimicking British-flag pins guide you to the dressing rooms, and plush velvet chaises embellish the space. The gym’s Upper East Side location offers a more Zen vibe, a sleek, industrial design, and also the most expensive membership. A hop, skip, and a jump from Central Park, this one-level location overlooking Madison Avenue caters to the ladies who lunch and high-profile clientele, all sweating in an effort to fulfill the gym's slogan: "Look Better Naked."Pros
Membership to David Barton Gym is set up in tiers. In New York you can either purchase individual gym memberships, or, for a little more, get a city membership, which encompasses the Chelsea and Astor Place locations. (Because it's a little pricier, a membership to David Barton Gym Uptown includes all three city locations.) A travel membership is available to jet-setters and includes access to every gym in every city the franchise is located (currently Miami, Chicago, and Seattle).
From the low lighting and spacious bathrooms, to the giant disco ball and a clothing boutique at the Astor Place location, everything about the gym's clublike atmosphere is designed to help members feel relaxed and entice them to stay longer. However, for those just preferring to get in and out, all the bells and whistles may prove distracting.
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