By Judy Carmack Bross
What if you decided to end your current day job and re-connected with your high school and college buddies to do exactly what you want to do each and every day?
If you are picturing beach days of endless surfing, you don’t know Joseph Fisher, Kevin Boehm, and Robb Leone who envisioned BIÂN, Chicago’s unique private club offering fitness, fabulous food, Eastern and Western philosophies, and a focus on health and beauty. There’s even a vinyl room stocked with1500 albums to chill out to as well as a nap room in the 25,000 square foot space on West Chicago Avenue at the River. You’ll find the three dynamic partners taking advantage of the services there daily.
Founder Joseph Fisher
CEO Joseph Fisher, a former lawyer, and entrepreneur, and Boka Group chef Kevin Boehm, the winner of the 2019 James Beard award for Outstanding Restaurateur, were soccer players together in high school in Springfield, Illinois. They met Robb Leone at the University of Illinois. Boehm serves as Chairman of BIÂN and Leone, a finance expert who has always been influenced by yoga, exercise, and nature, serves as President.
Fisher, who describes himself as a “recurring lawyer and BIÂN as his fourth career, told us:
“Although we studied many health clubs and private clubs we found nothing similar to use as a template. We threw away other ideas and built it for us.
“What makes BIÂN magical is the fact that it offers something for everyone. It is built on a foundation of holistic wellness, vitality and social wellbeing. It weaves Eastern and Western philosophies; concierge medicine; a signature holistic apothecary; extensive yoga, fitness, Pilates and studio programming; chef-driven food and beverage offerings; cutting edge therapeutic modalities; luxurious spa, elite aesthetic & beauty services and grand social gathering spaces – all in one dynamic, design forward space. BIÂN’s practitioners work together to create a supportive ecosystem that helps each member move forward in productive, sustainable ways on their journey to self-improvement. Each member is assigned a wellness advisor to further support the members’ goals into actionable steps on their journey.”
Mar Soraparu, Chief Wellness Officer, Angelo Costas MD, Chief Medical Officer, and Chief Aesthetic & Beauty Officer Julius Few, MD are part of the leadership team and share in the financial, business, hospitality, fitness, lifestyle, and medical segments.
Fisher remembers the exact time of day that the Club was supposed to open.
“It was seven a.m. on November 20, 2020, the moment that the Governor and the Mayor announced that the city and state would be shut down again for COVID. Through the pandemic we have seen that people are acknowledging how fragile life is and how important a change for the better is necessary in their healthcare routine. In their isolation, many people lost energy. We have been so happy to offer our unique community. In December and January the Club really saved me. It was a place where I could come and feel comfortable. Members have told me that they are now able to re-engage with themselves in a whole different way.”
We asked Fisher what members love best.
“What seems to be loved by so many of the BIÂN community is the sense of connection that is felt every time when walking through our doors. Whether you arrive at the club to work, for an Eastern medicine, beauty, massage concierge medical, coaching, nutrition, or infrared sauna appointment, to meet someone for lunch, to take a group fitness class or to meet your fitness coach, the staff and other members are so incredibly welcoming and supportive to what you are there to achieve. The BIÂN team, overall community and the integrity of our services make for an unparalleled experience.”
BIÂN serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with delicious things to eat all day long starting at eight a.m. Fisher, who adores the varied halibut recipes served right now as well as the hand-rolled pasta, told us about the menu.
“Kevin designed the food and beverage program at the restaurant with intention. We want Michelin Star level and all organic. It is ambitious in its sourcing, and contains broad offerings for all three meal periods. Our on-site Chef Ryan Maher, has curated a menu based on healthy food that is still craveable. The menu’s mission statement: ‘Creating the best tasting food, that still aligns with member’s health initiatives.’ We have an upstairs main dining room Restaurant and Lounge, a Riverwalk Restaurant and Lounge that serves a rotating menu in addition to The Market at BIAN offers grab-and-go: smoothies, smoothie bowls, coffee, tea, cocktails & mocktails.”
We asked Fisher about a luxurious “splurge” service or unique combinations of services:
“There are endless routes for one to “splurge” at BIÂN given the array of services and treatments. We love our eight-week programs that are customized to exactly what the member desires — that integrate physical, mental, emotional, and social habits into one’s everyday routine for a more sustainable approach to living well.
Mar Soraparu, Chief Wellness Officer
“ One could be a private yoga session, then receiving an IV treatment while speaking with your life coach that is followed up with a hydra facial and a foot soak. Where else can you do all these things within the same couple of hours?”
What brands of products are featured at the spa?
“Our Holistic Apothecary serves as a resource for an array of clean and effective products and is home to our exclusive line of BIAN Beauty products created by our Partner, Dr. Julius Few of The Few Institute. The philosophy behind our offerings is integrative – pairing Eastern medicine with Western medical science that is the baseline for all our products from body care, Eastern and Western herbs, tinctures, serums, balms, and other offerings. Our in-house team of experts carefully chose brands with the highest of integrity.”
Julius Few, MD and Chief Aesthetic Officer of BIAN
xxxx Angelo Costas, MD, Chief Medical Officer xxxx
Boehm says he starts his day in the Vinyl Room.
“I believe that it’s crucial that you incorporate mental wellness into your daily routine. Sometimes it’s a quiet room for meditation, but most of the time it’s the perfect venue for a Side A from one of my favorite albums. All the vinyl is pushed through McIntosh audio, the world’s greatest sound system and it totally sets the tone for the day. Miles Davis- Kind of Blue, Joni Mitchell’s Clouds, Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks, or the criminally underrated Martin Sexton’s Black Sheep are often my morning soundtrack as I ease in to the day.”
Boehm talked about his “change things” at the Club:
“You reach a certain point in life where the most important pieces of equipment in your life are a foam roller and a lacrosse ball. I’ve spent the last 30 years running around dining rooms in dress shoes and a couple years ago my back started to pay the price. Managing inflammation, doing fascia work, and daily stretching are now required things to keep me pain-free. Cryotherapy, the infra-red sauna, and Rozie (my BIÂN therapist) kicking my ass on the massage table, all help keep me upright and on the move.
“I think too many people get comfortable in an exercise routine, and the body tends to plateau growth in a stagnant routine, so I like to change the recipe all the time. Thankfully I can do yoga, Pilates, strength training, cardio, and barre in a variety of platforms, speeds, and different instructors at BIÂN.”
What are Boehm’s diet principles?
“When Lee Wolen is in test kitchen for our new Boka Group Italian Restaurant, Alla Vita, it’s pretty difficult to stay disciplined all the time, but on most days I’m pretty structured: a morning shake with lucuma, maca, collagen, and pea protein, intermittent fasting with dining hours between noon and seven pm, and a conscious effort to stay away from bread & dairy. That all being said, I love ALL food, and sometimes you just say screw it and order the lasagna.”
Boehm told us: “Finding a community of like-minded, kind, enlightened souls create an energy that’s contagious. Wellness routines are mostly easily kept when you have a supportive group of friends around you-encouraging you to be better, stronger, healthier…I am so glad I found that community at BIÂN.”
To find out more, visit livebian.com