U by David Barton Debuts in New York
By Thomas Waller,2023-06-08
“New York needs this, it needs it now,” professed David Barton, just before cutting the ribbon on U by David Barton, his 35,000-square-foot new luxury gym concept in the former Chelsea YMCA space. “I’m a long-term Chelsea resident. I just love it here and I think she’s still not only cool, but got a lot of heart, a lot of soul.”
Barton has spent decades in the competitive luxury fitness game, opening his namesake gym 30 years ago and TMPL gyms in 2017, making waves with his marketing tag line: Look Better Naked. He eventually left his namesake gym, selling it off. “A few years later, people who are running it shut the business down in a way that was very upsetting to me,” he said of the experience.
Now the fitness guru — whose gym/nightclub/destination concept drew in the downtown fashion set along with powerlifters with its thumping music, sexy lighting and premium equipment — is back and looking to disrupt the New York City luxury gym market again.
Set over three floors, U is an expansive new take on health and training through new technologies selected by Barton. The 23rd Street location introduces the latest science-backed technologies, including the Neubie, a direct current electro, muscular stimulation device that reprograms muscles for optimized performance and recovery times. “It’s a phenomenal piece of technology that changed my life,” Barton said.
U has also partnered with the Precision Health Alliance, delivering a complete epigenetic diagnostic profile with insights into members’ personal health via AI, taking a scientific approach that removes the guesswork out of users’ fitness journeys while providing a fitness blueprint that capitalizes on one’s genetic potential.
The first floor houses a mix of traditional cardio machinery while the lower level serves as the space for weight and strength training complete with dumbbells, squat racks and benches. The gym offers a take on the future of exercise — housing ARX adaptive resistance equipment, which utilizes patented, motorized resistance and computer software to maximize every rep. The strength training equipment includes a U exclusive: Pannatta. Manufactured in Italy, Barton describes the it as “the next level of exercise equipment.”
Hospitality comes from Mush Room — developed in collaboration with Bill Gilroy from Employees Only — a mushroom-focused cafe.
“This gym, well there are just a lot of things about it that a lot of New York gyms just don’t have,” Barton said, adding that the new concept is a gift to the city and neighborhood he holds dear. “What’s great is the people I have around me,” he said, explaining the gym’s realization was a group exercise. “It’s not just me, it’s really these people who make it happen.”