Vital Stats: David Barton, 41, of David Barton Gym
Company: Fitness gyms
2005 Projected Sales: $17.5 million
No Pain, No Gain: David Barton had a degree in human development and family studies from Cornell University, but he decided to forgo graduate school to pursue his passion for personal training. Barton trained clients from 5:30 a.m. to midnight every day for four years to raise two-thirds of the $300,000 needed to start up his first gym in 1992; the rest was borrowed from friends and family. His dedication paid off--the New York City-based gym made $1 million in profits its first year.
Individual Attention: Feeling gyms were stuck in a time warp, Barton provided an alternative to what he calls "suburban commercial health clubs." His classes in strength training, cardio and yoga give clients tangible results via educated trainers handpicked and mentored by Barton. Some classes include AshtangaYoga, an Israeli martial arts "Fight Club," AsphaltAbs and AssBlast. To give each gym its own vibe, Barton used revered designers whom he "collaborated with obsessively." Says Barton, "Each one reflects the language and spirit of [its] neighborhood."
Reaching Out: With four gyms open, three being built and plans for a spa in Las Vegas, Barton has also created a sportswear line, a diet and lifestyle program, and an in-flight workout for Song Airlines. He helps fight obesity among children, working with Healthcorps and the New York City Board of Education, and he also mapped a fitness walk touring the museums of lower Manhattan so participants can work their brains and bodies. He says, "I feel this is my gift I have to [share with] people."