Health & Fitness

By Charu Suri

David Barton Gym
David Barton Gym has an eye-catching poster when you walk in, “I’d pay to see you sweat.” If you hire one of the gym’s trainers, your membership is on Barton. The gym’s motto: “Look Better Naked” could be a title of a Red Hot Chili Peppers Album, but it is in keeping with the undercurrent of serious training that its gym-goers and trainers look for. Almost all of its members look fit, sculpted and healthy, as though they spend 9-5 working out rather than working.

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I went to the Chelsea location to check out the classes and the gym’s updo. The imposing, columned entrance makes you feel like you are entering a Roman temple rather than a workout facility, and the décor is refreshing. The gym equipment is spotless, rustic wooden lamps stand in the foyer, creating a comfortable and upscale ambiance, and the locker rooms are spacious.

The classes, they boast, are hard. No kidding. I tried the “Barton Biking” class with trainers Nicole and Caroline, which lasted for an hour and fifteen minutes. We spent twenty minutes in one studio spinning on the bikes. The workout felt lukewarm at first, and I found myself thinking, come on, this is not that hard!! But after twenty minutes, we were whisked to an adjacent studio where we did everything from lunges, squats to abdominal crunches for another twenty minutes. Then back we went to spinning, and we ended with the body sculpting. At the end of my last crunch, I thought I was done with working out forever…my limbs felt as sore as G.I. Jane’s.

Check out the two locations of David Barton Gym (Chelsea and Upper East Side) at www.davidbartongym.com

Equinox Fitness
Equinox is more than a gym: it’s a lifestyle. Once you visit this gym, you’ll wonder how you lived without it. The locker rooms are spotless and spacious; the gym itself (I went to the one at Columbus Circle) is as large as a prairie. There is a spa and a three-lane pool and a good range of classes to choose from.

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I took a spinning class (yes, I’m boring) and was impressed to find the bikes already set up with towels before we got to the studio. The class was intense but fun, and the room was well air-conditioned (try doing spinning in a poorly-aired room and you’ll realize why this is critical).

I found the trainers very knowledgeable and friendly. As I did crunches in the stretching area, one trainer came up to me and said that he was “concerned” about the way I was dropping my back abruptly on the mat on the descent from my crunch. He patiently showed me how to strengthen my back on a BOSU ball and guided me through machines that worked my upper and lower back muscles (I never realized these muscles existed until then).

This was in keeping with Equinox’s training philosophy which, according to David Harris, Equinox Personal Training Director, is knowing how to “problem solve.” “Trainers learn to become excellent problem solvers,” he says. “It’s not about what they should be doing, but how to help them do it better.”

After a quick steam room visit and shower, I realized I had spent three hours at Equinox and had hardly realized it! That’s what I call a home away from the gym. www.equinoxfitness.com.

Originally published January 2007
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