By Judy Carmack Bross
Wellness radiates like sunshine. For centuries people have diagnosed how it should define our lives.
From William Shakespeare: “Our bodies are our gardens – our wills are our gardeners.”
To entrepreneur Jim Rohn: “Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live.”
To the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh: “Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos: the trees, the clouds, everything.”
To learn more about post-pandemic paths to wellness, we talked with the four founders and several staff members of BIÂN, the private club which recently unveiled additional 9,000 square feet of club space on Chicago Avenue. Each defined wellness in a different way but together the paths found definition—and inspiration.
BIÂN’s New Expansion Offers Members 9,000 Additional Sq Ft of Wellness
BIÂN Co-Working Space
Branding itself the “ultimate wellness destination,” the members club combines fitness classes, therapeutic spa services, a medical concierge, nutrition consultants, body sculpting, med-spa treatments and more. BIÂN weaves together Eastern and Western healing practices with wellness at the heart, making it the only club of its kind in the country. The expansion features an additional elevated hybrid work areas for the new paradigm of flexible work and play, small private rooms for calls, and large conference rooms for members. Lectures on a wide variety of subjects relating to wellness abound. To grow its social and dining offerings, BIÂN will also now feature a new lounge, formal dining space, private event space, and an expanded kitchen. An addition of two new studios, private training, yoga, and meditation spaces, and two ancillary locker rooms will support expanded fitness options.
Mar Soraparu, BIÂN Co-Founder and Chief Wellness Officer, told us how she defines wellness.
“BIÂN offers the opportunity to practice, refine, adjust, question and master the skills that contribute to a life of intentional choice-making. Wellness to me is a series of decisions, every moment of your day that contributes to and moves you towards or away from your physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual well-being. Wellness is chosen and in a fast-moving world that is filled with temptation and distraction, I believe that BIAN equips members with how to stay dedicated to their needs and desires despite circumstances.”
Among the classes she has recently begun are ones designed to strengthen the pelvic floor which might have been weakened by childbirth. Soraparu told us. “We integrate Eastern thinking, both with exercise and breathing, into these classes which include women from 29 to 65, with some women in the postpartum experience with the goal to strengthen these muscles.”
A native of Glenview, Soraparu student sociology at UCLA and began a finance professional at asset management and investment firms following graduation. “Through sociology I became very interested in people and their cultures, and am most fascinated by what is at the heart of human beings. I am very entrepreneurial by nature and liked the idea of doing my own thing. In 2012 I made a big career shift to become a yoga teacher as well as a life coach. The idea of founding BIÂN linked my love of health and finance. Each of our partners brought their own unique areas of expertise to the table.”
“Wellness is not one path, it is a series of choices leading to calming, peace and joy as well as a vital and happy existence. When guests walk in our doors anxiety lessens. Some people might not be interested in concentrating on healthy food but they might want to do yoga, others focus on strength training in our full gym, and others might like some time in the nap room, sleeping on what has been termed the most comfortable bed to be found. Each member is paired with a coach. We have a separate medical membership which results in a confident collaboration between client and our resident MD and Concierge Medical Director Dr. Marcie Claybon.”
To Dr. Claybon: “Wellness in a subjective sense of vitality: a state of thriving rather than merely existing, which can be enhanced by lifestyle choices, age, luck, and circumstance, but which is ultimately defined by the presence of a soul-level energy rooted in positivity and abundance.”
Kasey Franco, BIÂN Advisor and Thought Leadership Academy, relates wellness to a sacred space–your own and in community.
“Within these walls lies the power to ignite a profound shift within you. BIAN serves as a sanctuary, a sacred space where you can nurture and nourish your entire being. It is a place where you can escape the chaos of daily life and prioritize your well-being. In this haven, you have the opportunity to embark on a journey of self-discovery, self-care, and self-transformation. You are surrounded by a community of like-minded individuals who share your aspirations for a healthier and more fulfilling life. It provides you with the tools and knowledge to cultivate holistic wellness, empowering you to make conscious choices that align with your values and aspirations.”
BIÂN is growing its workforce through an elevation of responsibilities and roles with current staff, while adding personnel in multiple departments of the club to meet the increased demand and space.
Sundays are family days at BIÂN, and live music is often playing throughout the week. Weekly offerings include classes such as “You and Your Time”, “Thought Leaders”, “Women and Business,” “Smart Dating,” and even “Flower Arranging.” Authors and local personalities often join members for dinners to discuss topics ranging from “Unreasonable Hospitality” to community involvement.
BIÂN Beauty services are offered to the public by appointment only.
Others on the BIÂN team offered their definition of wellness for us to share, including Dominica Fisher, BIÂN Director of Meditation:
“To me wellness is gratitude. And at BIÂN I have the opportunity to be grateful for the strength of my body; the exploration of my mind, spirit and energy; the ability to learn about my digestive, hormonal, skeletal and other bodily systems, to love where I work and to be supported by this incredible community. It is the ability to work on all of these aspects without search for perfection, but deep gratitude that for me makes BIÂN an ecosystem of wellness.”
And Dr. Sandra Subotich, BIAN Director of Eastern Therapies:
“Wellness is the intersection of mind, body and spirit. Where you have the courage to see all aspects of yourself, the fortitude to accept it, and the inspiration to change what no longer serves you or brings you peace. BIAN is the vehicle that provides a safe opportunity to explore.”
And Samantha Gatewood, BIÂN Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner:
“Wellness is homeostasis–to find equilibrium. I believe this is what BIÂN offers to members and their guests…. the opportunity to find and practice equilibrium in the physiologic mind/body parts of life.”
Because BIÂN is the only wellness center offering so many approaches in one location, they are currently receiving calls from around the world from other businesses about their approach. May our sharing of other wellness definitions from the BIÂN staff help you to define it and call wellness your own.
From Dr. Ben Schuff, BIÂN Director of Naturopathy & Nutrition:
“In the broadest sense, I always like to think of health or wellness as simply a resource for living a meaningful life, rather than an end in itself.”
And – Kelly Moore, BIÂN Director of Advisory and Master Instructor
‘Wellness is the optimal connection of my heart, body, and mind – when I am able to fully access all that I feel and the ability to share it. Wellness is when I feel energized, strong, and capable in my body and when I have a clear, sharp and perceptive mind.”
And Robb Leon, BIÂN Co-Founder:
“Wellness means living a life filled with positive energy, productivity, love and inspiration.”
And we loved how Joe Fisher, BIÂN Co-Founder and CEO related wellness to how we can positively affect others everyday.
“Wellness is a journey of constant evolvement of our physical, mental and spiritual self so that we may use our time on this earth in the wisest of ways to create positive, meaningful, moments.”