At the helm of an anything-but-ordinary brand, Howard Brodsky of DavidBartonGym talks about why it pays off to be different.
The definition of eccentricity is “an oddity or peculiarity.” In many ways, DavidBartonGym fits this definition to a T. Few things about the company are ordinary, whether looking at its slogan, “#LookBetterNaked,” or walking through one of its 11 U.S. locations, each unique in their own right. Ordinary is not something the company is striving to achieve.
“DavidBartonGym is one of the most exciting, unique companies in the world, and we are growing and succeeding because we do things differently and do them well,” said Howard Brodsky, the CEO of DavidBartonGym. “Step into one of our gyms and you immediately understand what separates us from the pack.”
DavidBartonGym has been doing things differently since 1992, when it was founded in New York City by David Barton, who left the company in 2013. Since Barton’s departure, not much about the company’s vision has changed, said Brodsky. “We have a lot of respect for what David built and continue to focus on the key elements that make DavidBartonGym what it is, while working to constantly improve everything for our members,” he said.
Those key elements include a commitment to members’ fitness, luxury amenities and impressive architectural and interior design.
Brodsky became familiar with DavidBartonGym in 2012, while serving as CEO of New York Health and Racquet Clubs, a post he held for 10 years. “I was introduced by chance to the investors behind DavidBartonGym and what started out as a brain-picking session turned into an offer to join the company as CEO and lead DavidBartonGym in the future,” recalled Brodsky.
The company’s uniqueness is something Brodsky had always admired. “I found the brand fascinating and I always have,” he said. “At the same time, it was stagnant and needed leadership, and it was the personal challenge that made it so intriguing for me.”
Since joining the DavidBartonGym family, Brodsky has been committed to growing the eccentric brand, particularly in markets that have density, such as Boston, Chicago and New York. “We currently have two strong locations in Los Angeles, and West Hollywood and Santa Monica are target areas that we are aggressively pursuing,” said Brodsky. “We are currently in discussions to open in the San Jose market, San Francisco and Palm Springs. Over the next five years, I would like to add 10 additional locations as well as create an offshoot of the DavidBartonGym brand, adding a boutique concept.”
In each additional location, being one-of-a-kind will be an important factor. “We want our gyms to stand out and the design is a key component,” explained Brodsky. “Each gym has signature DavidBartonGym elements, but also reflect the area and the community. If you visit our Boston gym you’ll see elements of the city, but it is still identifiable as one of our gyms. We also collaborate with Studio Sofield on the majority of our properties, which helps keep a consistency.”
Designing DavidBartonGym Limelight in New York City was a recent collaboration with Studio Sofield. Housed in a former Episcopal church built in the mid-1800s, much of the church’s natural architecture is still present. Now, treadmills and ellipticals are located alongside stained-glass windows and looming arches.
“Taking a space that has such history and keeping elements of the past incorporated, while infusing our new technology and the DavidBartonGym aesthetic, resulted in a gym that is unlike anything else,” said Brodsky.
Although impressive aesthetics are a major component of DavidBartonGym, the company doesn’t consider fitness to be a secondary priority. A dedication to helping members “#LookBetterNaked” is just as important as bold design. To accomplish this, DavidBartonGym has placed an emphasis on personal training.
“Personal training offers customized programming that fits your needs, goals and body,” explained Brodsky. “It is not simply about having someone there to push you, although that certainly helps. It is about creating a program that will effectively change your body. No one person is the same, so understanding the goals behind why someone is working out and what they want to accomplish helps them actually achieve results.”
The emphasis on personal training, in addition to the other key elements of DavidBartonGym, offers members a one-of-a-kind opportunity to indeed “#LookBetterNaked,” if they so desire.
In regards to the slogan, Brodsky said, “When it was first developed, it rang true to what our members were trying to accomplish and that is still the case today. People come to DavidBartonGym to change the way they look and everyone wants to ‘#LookBetterNaked.’”
At the end of the day, DavidBartonGym isn’t afraid to embrace eccentricity in the name of brand recognition, “wow” factor and a separation from the pack.
And when it comes to DavidBartonGym’s continued future success, Brodsky said he is both relentless and demanding. “I am always accessible, always on top of every aspect of the business from the top line gross to the cost we pay for every towel that gets laundered and everything in between,” he said. “Living and breathing the business is a key element to finding success.”
Through this perseverance, Brodsky hopes DavidBartonGym will continue to set itself apart from the pack. “This business is a 365-day business and if I, or my team, falls into a Monday through Friday mentality, the game is over,” he said. “I work to motivate my staff to understand that, from top to bottom.”