MIAMI — Downtown Miami’s DavidBartonGym suddenly closed overnight, ending for now the area’s 20 year-plus love affair with founder David Barton’s nightclub-like workout rooms that often featured as many celebrities as muscle heads.
The closure also include the company’s facilities in New York, Chicago, Boston and Seattle.
Already this morning, Miami was wiped out of the locations tag in davidbartongym.com. The website now indicates that only the gyms in Honolulu, Las Vegas and Los Angeles remain open for now.
The company sent five-paragraph emails to its Miami members overnight, telling them that the downtown gym was shuttered up because of “competitive market conditions.”
There’s no mention of reimbursements for long-term membership users.
Although he says he hasn’t worked for the company since 2013, the 52-year-old Barton’s name remained on DavidBartonGym owner Club Ventures’ incorporation papers.
Barton didn’t return calls left on his cellphone but eventually released this statement: “I’m sad to hear that DavidBartonGym is closing down this way. It’s been several years since I’ve been part of the company, but I thoroughly enjoyed building the business and appreciate the efforts of everyone who made DBG what it was. People are calling and showing up at my new gym, TMPL. I’m not quite sure what to do for everyone, but it’s the holidays, come in and work out on me for now. We’ll figure something out in 2017.”
Barton, whose motto is “look better naked,” has been a presence in the area’s muscle business since the mid-1990s. He opened his first local gym in the basement of the then-resurgent Delano South Beach at a time when the area gained its first stripes as an entertainment destination.
There, Barton was known to cater to celebrities, including Hollywood actor Mickey Rourke, who lived down the street.
The muscle-bound Barton, who was then married to nightclub promotor Susanne Bartsch, managed to make something cool out of smelly, sweaty workouts.
At times, he had a d.j. spin club music for classes while the barbell racks were bathed in an atmosphere akin to a nightclub.
Barton catered to singer Justin Timberlake once the gym had moved to The Flamingo South Beach Center Tower.
Barton also opened a facility at the Gansevoort South hotel in Miami Beach (now known as 1 Hotel South Beach) before moving the entire operation to the Southeast Financial Center on South Biscayne Boulevard in Miami.
In 2011, records show David Barton Gym filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. According to the paperwork, he carried more than $65 million in debt for only six locations, including Miami.
The company eventually got out of bankruptcy court when Barton signed an alliance with the West Coast’s gym chain Meridian Sports Club.
In an interview with Out magazine in March, Barton revealed he became a partner in TMPL, a new gym in Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan.