A taste of Bezz Training - fitness with a flavor of its own

Posted on Sun, 09/01/2019 - 12:30pm

By Ron Cohn

Jorge BezzBezz Training opened in the Malibu East Plaza in September 2017 and has already more than doubled in space after taking over, this past June, the corner vacated by Byline Bank. Not your typical storefront exercise emporium, the facility offers a panoramic look into state-of-the-art fitness training through wide-open glass walls.

A lifelong “gym rat,” this reporter couldn’t help being attracted by the profusion of ultra-slick professional equipment on display, including every style and size of serious free weights as well as contraptions whose purpose is not readily apparent. Equally intriguing was what could be observed of the impressively buff complement of athletic trainers and their trainees. They were working hard, as one would expect, but they were noticeably enjoying themselves, smiling through the sweat and strain. Evidently there was something going on here worth investigating.

Unlike the ubiquitous national brand-name health clubs and fitness centers coming and going in every neighborhood, Bezz Fitness is a highly personal undertaking – the unique vision of one man and the realization of his longtime dream.

Long, globe-trotting journey to Malibu East

Intense, earnest and exuding South American charm, Jorge Bezerra is “Mr. Bezz.” He arrived in this country 22 years ago, a 19-year-old Brazilian whose goal of a degree in civil engineering had been financially curtailed. He landed on Cape Cod and took a series of odd jobs leading to a position in the fitness center of the Hyannis Port Hyatt as a personal trainer – the start of a career direction that took him to New York City. He began his undergraduate education at NYU, ultimately receiving his BS and MA in athletic training and sports medicine from Long Island University.

After earning his degrees, Jorge stayed at LIU as assistant strength coach for all athletic teams before moving on to Columbia University as athletic trainer for the football team.

During this time he began working as the personal trainer for an internationally known fashion designer – a gig that lasted several years and allowed him to hone his craft amid the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of worldwide travel.

Jorge’s journeys eventually led him to Chicago and his recognition as a local training legend in the Andersonville neighborhood over the past decade. The encouragement of his loyal and growing following was the impetus for his successful establishment of Bezz Training at Malibu East.

He says that of BT’s membership, which now stands at about 70 percent of capacity, only 10 percent so far are residents of the building, but he hopes to expand that with a special offer. Jorge would like to see at least 25 percent of the members coming from Malibu East.

September discount for new Malibu East members

Bezz Training has two membership programs, both including valet parking, locker and towel service and open access to the gym and its equipment without reservation via a keyless entry system. Anytime a resident member feels like heading down for a workout, day or night, their Openpath app opens the door.

The Gym-Only program is $69 a month and the Gym + Classes program is $99 monthly, the latter providing unlimited access to group classes in yoga, high-intensity interval training, flow, kettlebell, boxing, bootcamp and seasonal beach workouts.

Memberships are contracted for on an annual basis.

Additionally, Bezz has Peleton bikes and treadmills with live-streamed classes and detailed workout performance data. Their use is available for $39 monthly or is included with membership.

During the month of September, Malibu East residents are offered a 10% discount on all annual membership plans.

The Bezz difference – a sense of community

Jorge makes a strong point that Bezz trainers are serious professionals, certified and highly qualified in their specialties, with expertise in post-rehab therapy, general fitness and nutrition. They are dedicated to the stated Bezz purpose of changing lives through fitness and were brought aboard by him because they share his commitment to exercise and the creation of sustainable health habits.

Jorge was asked why, in this atmosphere of high technology and serious commitment, his members and trainers seemed to be having fun.

He says that his approach is to build a fitness community, a source of mutual support and inspiration for its members. The trainers are an important part, like the coaching staff on an athletic team where players cheer each other’s accomplishments. As he was explaining this, several Malibu East residents stopped to say hello, and when they learned a Dialogue article was in the works, they insisted on providing some unsolicited testimonials for Bezz Training.

Marcia Fishman said the staff is very attentive, extremely friendly and helpful. She praised John, her personal trainer, for knowing how to work with her back issues, knowing which exercises are right for her and for making his specialty, boxing classes, an unexpected pleasure. “The place just feels so homey, thanks to Jorge,” she concluded.

Board member Sam Bullock said that his Bezz personal trainer is “patient but knows how to push, and how hard,” whereas a trainer he used elsewhere did not. He thinks “Bezz is great for the building. More people should join.”

Jorge says his members’ average age is about 50; the Malibu East members “somewhat older.” He says his youngest is 16 and the oldest 82. The octogenarian, a woman named Vicki, travels to Bezz from Evanston three or four days a week.