The Boxing Gym for Supermodels

Gotham Gym isn’t so different from the average sweat lodge, but the clientele is memorable.

Gotham Gym is as advertised: It’s a gym in New York. There are heavy bags, seventies rock anthems on the radio, piles of weights, and a posters of Muhammed Ali and his various Ali-isms. That’s the first impression, but it’s the second impression that sticks because the clientele is extremely unusual. A not at all insignificant number of the boxers also also supermodels.

A leggy blonde is throwing punches at Rob Piela, ex-boxer turned Gotham owner, in the main ring. It’s mesmerizing to watch – hit, hit, hit, step, step – but Randy Humola, the gym’s manager, doesn’t have time for abstraction. “He’s already had seven today,” he says, looking at the coworker he sometimes refers to as his little brother. “He’s a busy guy.”

Goddam right. Here’s a partial list of Rob’s clients: Irina Shayk, Cara Delevingne, Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Marloes Horst, Sara Sampaio, Schlomit Malka, Mariana Santana, and Josephine Skriver. Scrolling through Piela’s Instagram is like flipping through a sweatier version of Vogue. Gotham isn’t a gym for models (Randy is very clear on this point) but it is a gym with an increasingly niche clientele.

The reason the models come here is to work themselves to the bone. And Gotham’s coaches are there to help. Maxim’s attempt to run this gauntlet begins when Frankie, ex-boxer and YMCA coach, starts taping my hands. He explains that the gym defines itself based on three boxing basics: speed, strength and focus. Then he slips the bright red Everlast gloves over the tape and we start. Hit. Hit. Jab. Hook. Repeat. 3X. Squats. 10 Squats. Hit. Hit. Jab. Hook. Uppercut. Hit. Repeat 3X. 10 Squats. Step forward. Hit. Hit. Jab. 3X. 10 Squats. Step backward. Hit. Hit. Jab. 3X. After 20 minutes, I’m sweating buckets, my thighs are on fire and my biceps are pulsing with resentment. When I begin to slow down, Frankie firmly demands, “Again!” like every inspirational coach during every boxing montage. 

The workout continues for an hour and encompasses sets of free weights, pull-ups, push-ups, calf-press, abs and we finish with stretching. There are high fives afterwards. This is, after all, a gym.

Piela doesn’t talk to the press (though he does say he will…), so I left without finding out how the models found Gotham Gym. But I did find out why they come back: If beauty is pain, this is the ultimate regimen. The results speak for themselves.

Gigi Kickin’ Ass

A video posted by Rob Piela (@gothamgym) on

Oct 10, 2014 at 3:31pm PDT

Shlomit Malka-

A photo posted by Rob Piela (@gothamgym) on

Oct 10, 2014 at 3:43pm PDT

Marloes Horst-

A photo posted by Rob Piela (@gothamgym) on

Jun 6, 2014 at 9:12am PDT

Josephine Skriver-

A photo posted by Rob Piela (@gothamgym) on

May 5, 2014 at 8:27am PDT


A photo posted by Rob Piela (@gothamgym) on

Feb 2, 2014 at 4:36pm PST

Beautiful Monday indeed-

A photo posted by Rob Piela (@gothamgym) on

Oct 10, 2014 at 11:19am PDT