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DavidBartonGym: Designer Fitness

By Mia Coen

I’m back. I’m rested. And I’m still basking in the afterglow of my visit to NYC and DavidBartonGyms!

As I mentioned before, DavidBartonGym is the topic of our design feature for November. I was lucky enough to get the personal tour from Barton and witnessed, first-hand, the striking spectacles that are his gyms. People usually attest their gym-going experience to the customer service, the quality of training, the equipment, or group exercise classes—but, in a DavidBartonGym, the physical space where you’re working out is the experience.

By definition, design is the purposeful or inventive arrangement of parts or details to create a particular effect. David Barton has nailed this down. At the New York locations that I visited, each gym was completely different, but all had a Barton flare with certain recognizable qualities.

The first recurring trait is, without a doubt, the lighting, which Barton is obsessed with. All three of the locations in the city were decked out with subtle spotlighting, colorful track lighting, and shades and hues from LED lamps throughout the gyms. Another recognizable feature is the use of mirrors. Instead of having wall mirrors lining the rooms, you’d find an occasional 12-foot, rustic, wood-framed mirror leaning on a wall, reflecting either the natural or synthetic lighting. He makes wonderful use of glass, whether it be for the walls and doors to the group exercise rooms, or in the locker room.

More importantly, Barton’s designs cater to the gym location and market. In Chelsea, a post-industrial neighborhood on the west side of Manhattan, many members work in business, but dedicate a lot of time to fitness and appearance. That’s why this gym is a place where you walk in the door and immediately feel sexy, a feeling that Barton wants to convey intentionally. The color scheme and lighting set the mood, and you’re greeted by the staff at a desk, which resembles a sort of concierge station. The music is pulsating and helps create the energy throughout the space.

At Astor Place, which lies in a section of town that was once the epicenter of punk rock and artistry, your eyes immediately widen as you walk into the lobby. Dozens of LED candles are twinkling on shelves that hang from the ceiling, which have cut-out mirrors attached to them, creating a sense of air and movement as they sway. Barton calls the style of this gym Victorian-punk, due to the unique re-upholstered Victorian velvet chaises, shocking colors, and damask wall patterns that appear throughout every room.

At the Uptown location, on East 85th Street and Madison Avenue, you get a sense that you’re in a 5th Avenue loft apartment— simple and tasteful. The color scheme is completely different in this gym, with hues of grey, silver, beige, and white. Simplicity is key here to create a warm, relaxing environment—from the leather bench that stretches the length of the training space to the plush, white window seats that line the windows overlooking the neighborhood.

As you can tell from these descriptions, creating a design to reflect a theme or market is central to the experience at DavidBartonGym. His other locations in Seattle, Miami, and Chicago also work with the space and reflect the traits of the culture and history unique to those areas.

So, if you’re considering making some changes to the design and aesthetic quality of your gym, take a tip from Barton and look to make the most out of your gym space to reflect the culture and the market you’re serving.

Click here to see photos of the different DavidBartonGyms for inspiration.

Do you employ a design strategy employed at your gym, or have any comments about the design and space at your facility? If so, feel free to share your thoughts in the “Comments” box below: 

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