Born and raised in Park Slope, Jesse Barocas (pictured above on right) has seen the area change, but knows that the sense of community here is as strong as ever. And at Seven Bell Fitness, the gym he just opened with a partner in Prospect Heights, he’s hoping to build that same sense of community — while at the same time, helping people’s lives change, much like his.
Not too long ago Jesse was out of shape, when he was offered a free session by personal trainer Seven Bell — now his partner at the gym (pictured above on left) — and it turned his life around.
We asked Jesse some questions about working out, what they offer at the new space, his favorite indulgences in Park Slope, and more. Plus, Jesse’s got a special offer for our readers below, so read on!
PSS: What were you doing before you became interested in fitness, and how has that background influenced the work you’re doing now?
Jesse Barocas: I went to Boston University to study Film and Television. Before college, and worse after college, I was in terrible shape. After college I had a hard time finding work, so I went to Costa Rica to teach English for a year, where I also studied Spanish. When I got back I was in worse shape still, weighing 220 pounds.
I started to go to the gym, and that’s when Seven approached me. We started training, and six months later I had lost 60 pounds and had abs of steel. I became a personal trainer, and ended up the highest grossing trainer in the company.
I learned that the discipline it takes to live a healthy lifestyle translates well into other areas in your life where you want to experience great accomplishments. This speaks to our mantra “Commit. Transform. Succeed.” Because like anything in life, making a change requires a commitment. Chances are, the area of the required commitment is outside of your comfort zone — if you want to lose weight, cardio is going to be part of your commitment to lose weight, and chances are that cardio is outside of your comfort zone. When you commit, you transform your comfort zones so that it does indeed include what you committed too, thereby transforming you from the inside out. If you transform, you have succeeded in accomplishing your goal.
What are some of the ways that training with Seven changed your life?
This experience was unbelievable. I started to see the fruits of my labor very quickly. It taught me that success is a mentality. It also taught me the importance of educating myself in achieving a goal. I needed to know that there are 3,500 calories in one pound of fat, which really made me look at calories I was eating and the number of calories I was burning everyday.
This goes beyond fitness. When I opened this gym I had to learn about business, so I read a bunch of books about business, in particular the business of fitness.
When did you two decide to open a gym? And why did you pick this location?
We were two of the most popular trainers at a corporate gym in the neighborhood, and we wanted to show the neighborhood what true service and care looks like in a fitness facility. We picked this location, 1, because we have a relationship with the landlord, and 2, because we want to be Brooklyn’s gym! I am local boy, so I know the direction this neighborhood is headed, and I want to offer my neighborhood the very best.
What are some of the things that make your gym different from some others?
Our gym is an exclusive state-of-the-art facility that has all of the machinery without all of the inconveniences (crowds, filth, sales-driven trainers, etc.). We also offer personalized nutrition programs. We have a nutritionist in house, a masseuse in house, and, most importantly, we are affordable! We are a results-driven gym, not a dollar-driven one.
What would you say to someone who’s a bit out of shape and looking to get healthy, but doesn’t know where to start? How can they get into a fitness regimen that sticks?
You just described what I encounter every day. The first thing people have to be is educated. Girls, lifting weights doesn’t mean you’re going to get bulky. People trying to lose weight, eating little doesn’t mean you’re going to lose weight, at least not sustainably. There are many misunderstood ideas around fitness. So first thing is people need to be educated.
Then once they are educated they have to be motivated. This is why I view myself as way more than a trainer — I am a teacher, motivator, mentor, and life coach. Get yourself a personal trainer, they can change your life… mine did.
You were born and raised in Park Slope — what’s one of the most remarkable changes you’ve seen over time? And one thing that’s stayed the same?
The most remarkable thing that has changed in Park Slope is the rise in bars and boutique clothing stores! Park Slope is now the Village! But what has remained the same is the sense of community and neighborhood that Manhattan has never had.
Now that you’re in shape and mindful of your health, you can probably feel okay about indulging every once in a while — what’s your favorite indulgence in Park Slope?
Anything else you’d like neighbors to know?
Come be a part of this revolution from its inception. This is going to be big! We are here to change what a gym does for people. Our facilities are going to be much more than just a jungle of gym equipment, we are going to be your home away from home. We are going to create bonds and change lives. Fitness is a lifestyle, and lifestyle is everything. Come in here to get committed to yourself!
Seven Bell Fitness is located at 640 Dean Street, between Carlton and Vanderbilt, 718-857-BELL (2355). Hours are Monday-Thursday 6am-9:30pm; Friday 6am-8pm; Saturday 9am-5pm; and Sunday 10am-4pm.
Tell them that you read about them on Park Slope Stoop, and get a free workout! Also, check out their ad at the top of the page for another deal.
All images courtesy Seven Bell Fitness