Member Memories

by admin

Help write the history of Better Bodies. Share your stories here.

Guest Comments

  1. Becky Borczon

    Oh, Brian!!! Stumbled on this website by accident,and oh, my!! Lloyd and I are still married–25years and 3 kids!–you and Kirsten and Benny were at our wedding–Gladys couldn’t come–she was in Canada training for Ms O… Working at BB with you and Mike and Benny and Kirsten and Jeff–Yikes!! what a time…magic. What a hoot to see the great pics–so many memories…Lloyd and I came into BB to work out for the day ’cause I was crazy to catch a glimpse of Gladys–you approached me, found out I was teaching at NY Health and Raquet and offered me a job on the spot…What a vision you had,mister! I will always be grateful…
    Becky (Blake) Borczon

  2. Dominique

    Better Bodies, my introduction to the world of fitness.. how special that time was for me and continues to be. When ever I train, I take myself back to that time and relish. Thank you Brian for having created that dynamic atmosphere. Nothing compares. Better Bodies was the BEST! A sexy time for sure… Ciao

  3. mr.alexandernevermind

    Looks like it was a great place just 2 be at….i wish i was part of history!
    the place now, does not even compare to the feel of then!

  4. louie camerada

    did my heart good to see all the old faces…..was a great run, i was blessed to have seen it personally. stay well…..stay big!

  5. antonio 'snake' adger

    those were the good old days,i was a member of your gym as well as ur modeling agency.u were always a good bussiness man and a good friend along with mike,jeff,gladys, kirsten ben,paul b, goode n so many others .some still remember me as snake adger, i now live in tampa florida .i still work out n stay in shape,now im a musician n go by the name congatone cause i play the congas in bands, boy times have changed lol.god bless

    • Scott Peskkn

      Hey Antonio, Snake,

      Scott Peskin remember me ,

  6. Al Lamanda


    I was a member from 1984-1990, when I moved to Miami. BB was, for me, the best gym ever. You and Mike weren’t just gym owners, but friends. After I moved, I really missed you and all the really great friends I made. When I returned to NY in 1999, I was deeply saddened to learn you guys were gone. Thank you for this trip down memory lane.
    Al Lamanda



  8. Quentin Vaughan


    I know you won’t remember me. I was a kid of only about 21 when I first read about you in I think MuscleMag back in the early eighties.Seems everyone had that Better Bodies logo. I was a dancer at the time and I wanted to add some muscle so I could do videos. This was your first gym over on….damn I forgot the street now. Not to far from the LimeLight. It’s been so long and I now live in Los Angeles. It’s funny I was just talking to a client of mine (I am now a therpaist and I also train some clients) the other day about how fitness has changed since MY old days: ) Some memories are like yesterday. Climbing the stairs in your first gym, Benny sitting at the desk. I worked out there for almost 2 years and the guy never said more than a word to me…lol.(though years later we spoke often at Johnny Lats before I left NY) Then again I was very shy in those days. I had such a crush on…what was her name….Kirsten I think. God she was beautiful. I remember how ‘new’ everything was. All the state of the art training info coming out of MuscleMag from guys like Gary Zulak. I remember saving all my money up to get headshots by Paul B. Goode cause he had did the photos of Gladys in her book. In many ways I feel it was our Muscle Days. Perhaps not as famous as Golds and Arnold, but in your own way YOU created a vibe that in my opinion set the spark for the fitness boom to come. You made it HIP to train. You gave it NYC style baby!! Perhaps we all have our glory days of youth, and I am proud of mine and grateful to you for being so brave yet so young. I mean you were just a kid yourself now that I think about it. I am glad I looked you up today and see that you are thriving and doing what you love. I am proud of you Brian Moss!

    Peace and Blessings,

  9. John Romano

    If there was an East coast Mecca during the last of the golden age of Bodybuilding it was that gleaming/dingy downstairs temple that Brian built. I’ll never forget nearly falling down the stairs when I was signing my name on the wall up in a spot where there was room. It was funny how almost everyone from Venice could find their name on that wall. What an incredible moment in history Better Bodies represented. While I’m sad it’s gone, I’m glad it happened and I was one of the lucky few who were there.

  10. anita sarko

    I was a DJ @ Danceteria, down the block. My friend Chi-Chi Valenti (I had known her & her hubby, Johnny Dynell since Mudd Club, where Johnny & I were DJs) suddenly had a killer body and she told me about this gym “for women” that was a few doors down from the club that was offering deals to anyone from Danceteria. No one knew anything about gyms in those days. One day, as I was crossing Washington Square Park, I heard someone remark, “Loose as a goose.” I was shattered…and much too young for that “compliment”. So, off I went to Better Bodies. Brian was so sweet and Gladys (also SO sweet) immediately started training me. Her first instructions were to go on “the body builder’s diet: no fats and no sugars”. My friends HOWLED at that. No one knew in those days. I followed her diet and her crazy ways of doing weights : keep them low, many reps and always stretch… and I completely changed my body in a couple of months. My friends stopped laughing, but they were still confused as to what a “gym” was. I remember getting free memberships because I helped with the music for the fashion shows, which was great. Wonderful group of people and a wonderful atmosphere. Now, those same friends who scoffed bring up their ignorance. DEFINITELY ahead of its time. And it’s great fun now to tell gym sorts that I was trained by Gladys Portugues…the last of the female body builders who actually resembled a woman. They are SO impressed, if not incredulous that I actually knew her. It’s been great fun to bump into you again, Brian, after all that time. You should be so proud of being such a trailblazer.

  11. Stracy Diaz

    I feel so blessed to have stayed in touch with you all these years. To have had the priviledge to know you then and still call you friend today. I remember the very first day we met at Pumping Iron Gym and oh how I had a crush on you…lol. I so wanted to look like Gladys and trained my lil heart out. Bodybuilding changed my life and even saved it a couple of times. Although I was’nt a member of BB, I did train at both locations a few times and was so proud I could hang with the big boys (especially when it came to doing calf raises…lol). Ming Chew was so jealous of my calves…lol. I was blessed to have had great training partners along the way and be trained by a few of the greats back then. Doing calf raises with Chris Dickerson, Squating with Nicole Bass, learning from Jeannie and all the other trainers at Pumping Iron who instilled in me the qualities of a greaat trainer and eventually training with Carlos Aldobot for so many years. They helped me get through some hard times by keeping me focussed when I could’nt see through the fog. Its because of all of you that I still train today and have the priviledge of training others.
    Thank you for creating this site and taking me back!

    BTW, if you ever have a reunion of BBM’s,,,can I please, please finally be part of the show?? LOL…

    With love,

  12. Dave Palumbo

    These are classic photos……….I can’t stop looking at them and smiling!

  13. Bob Bonham

    I love this site very cool and your hair too had a lot of fun looking at the pics
    I remember going to 21 St. when I first opened my gym just to check it out as it was famous and had G.P. working out. Also remember the time I saw you both on TV and how you dressed.
    You were an inspiration to me in marketing also.
    But the second location had a unique and special feeling to it.With with all the stars personal idems in their own personal frames , the walll of fame on the stairway, the couch, the partys, etc . I miss those days …BOB

  14. Joseph Campione

    Back in The Day-Better-Bodies was a “Hot” gym to work-out in manhattan.
    The location was convenient for me.
    The clientel and atmosphere was awsome!
    You had to be there to take it all in-sweat,groans,odor,slam-adding plates,and random tostestorone side-shows at the bench press and squat stations
    Just to catch a glimpse of Gladys working-out was Hmmmm-a treat…and being inspired by some of those bulging hulks.
    That was the goal.
    I remember specifically one weekday evening I was privileged to assist and lift up Grace Jones up onto a pull-up bar and in the same work-out session,that evening I had assisted spotting her man-Dolph Lungren at the squat station.

    Hope Mike can coordinate a “party gathering” of some of those Hulks and members.
    Jeff, Keep me posted and Drop me an email to this party gathering.
    God Bless

  15. Shawn Perine

    Although I lived on Long Island during the gym’s heyday I used to stop by 19th street just to be there- hang out on the couch and feel the vibe. It was the epitome of hip, insofar as bodybuilding goes. And I remember the ads in the contest programs from back in the day. And how I envied you for getting to see the lovely Gladys every day. Actually everyone I knew back then envied you too.

    You can never go back – it’s true – but seeing these pics for me is the next best thing. Thanks for taking the time to scan and caption them, Brian.

  16. Tom Terwilliger

    Wow man thanks for taking the time to do this not only for yourself but for all of us who were fortunate to be part of it all. I’m not sure if I ever really thanked you and Gladys for inviting me to be part of your Better Bodies family. I will never forget the whole experience of training for and competing in the World Mixed Pairs Championship with Gladys.

    I remember my Girlfriend at the time saying “If she was any better looking you wouldn’t be doing this” well you both looked great together and were quite a team back then.

    That experience and my introduction to women’s bodybuilding and the lovely Mary Roberts spoiled me to “normal” women forever. The bar had been permanently raised.

    The friendships I developed with Nick, Jeff, Benny, Gladys, Christa and you played a big part in my later success… you all helped me take what was a passion and turn it into a love.


    Tom Terwilliger
    Coaching Leadership Excellence

  17. Berry de Mey

    What a great idea to have a site like this! I love you photography site because you are so creative talented. But the Better Bodies site is pure nostalgia. It’s great to see the pics from the good old days. Can you believe it? “The good old day” It seems like yesterday. Thanks for sharing it with the world.
    Be Happy, Berry de Mey

  18. Claudio Braz

    Wow! I sure miss those days… Great job putting it together Brian!
    Claudio Braz

  19. Simon Rogers

    The whole Better Bodies experience references such a great time for me in NYC … I can’t believe how young everybody looks in these photo’s !

  20. Johnny Dynell

    Talk about a trip down memory lane!!!!
    This site is great.
    (or if we are talking about Gladys, Kirsten, Chi Chi, Carla, Mario, Vanessa or any of the other “Better Body Babes”…

    Of course my favorite “Better Body Babe” will always be Benny.

    This site has inspired me.
    I think I’ll go do a couple of jumping jacks.

  21. Clyde and Yolanda Gilliam

    Brian, In 1959, I visited my first Gym with a friend who had not long escaped from Cuba. The Gym was Sig Klein’s Gym on 7th Avenue between 47th and 48th Street, 3rd floor. As soon as we walked ino the Gym, Ziggy looked us over, gave us a towel, showed us around the Gym, gave us our routines and explained the exercises. It is said of a good gym, that as soon as you walk in the door, you feel like exercising. Next year I will be 82 and it will make 50 years of pumping iron. After Klein’s Gym, I worked out at The Shelton Hotel Gym with a famous wrestler and body builder of the 1920s and 30s, The Golden Superman, Walter Podolak as trainer. These were the best New York gyms of the day. Then came the exercise craze in the 60s. There were European Health Spas, Health Emporiums etc. Lots of machines, Saunas, Cold Plunges, Water everywhere. I stopped going to Gyms. Me and a neighbor started to work out in our apartments. Converting spare rooms into mini gyms. We did occasionally visit other gym around town….The YMCA….. They were, eh…okay. Then one day my oldest son took me to Better Bodies on 21st Street. Soon as I walked in the door, I felt like exercising. Better Bodies was the greatest gym. Everyone…the staff…fellow grunt and groaners were pleasant. Great Pro Shop. My darling wife eventually joined me and she has been the best workout buddy a “musclehead” could have. She says that Better Bodies has been the best rehab center for her various leg operations and working out there helped her strength training for her two NY Marathons. I did one Marathon with her, Though Better Bodies is gone, we are still in the house. Thanks Brian, it was a pleasure to push ‘n pull iron in Better Bodies.

    We love the site. Does it bring back good memories, fun times, lotsa sweat, great muscle growth…..pretty eye candy for all (everyone made working out at BB look good….) You betcha!

    Clyde and Yolanda Gilliam

  22. Karen Krieger

    I met Brian in Italy many years ago and he told me to pop in for a workout if I ever made it to N.Y.C. I did in, I think 1992. What a fabulous gym. Good people, weights in the right places, clean. The best, and I’ve worked out in Germany, Italy, Ecuador, Argentina and Brazil.

  23. I am excited to see you revisit this time. I was one of many thousands of fans of the bodybuilding culture that seemed to radiate from this epicenter (22 w. 19th St.)

    I have consulted to more than 400 club owners before and since my time with you there. I learned more from you in that time than I can remember, much of it about the value of intention and integrity. You were more concious of your members comfort and value than any other owner I ever worked with (Possibly excepting Phillip Mills , Les Mills clubs in NZ and all they have impacted globally.)

    The best news of all is that I believe you are fulfilled in your current career in a similar way, I hope that’s the case.

    I am happily providing nutrition coaching and sport specific training to many of the world’s most accomplished outdoor athletes. I rarely work with clubs any more (still training of course), but there is a string of continuity that goes back to BBNY. I’ve taken it outside, so to speak.

    I remain proud to know you and think of you as one of the most sound, credible, honest people I have ever known. The success of Better Bodies was a reflection of that, and your current and future success are too.

    Say hello to Bernice, Jerry and Fran for me, and be well;

    Ken Hoover

  24. chris pierce

    very cool hope all are well

  25. Allison Moyer

    Phenomenal site…
    Better Bodies was before my time, but this site pays homage to those who paved the way for me to do what I am able to do as a female athlete. I have had the pleasure of shooting with Brian for shemuscle and being a part of his webcam site launch (shemusclelive) and I am eternally appreciative of the support he gives to women’s bbing, figure and fitness.

    Great site Brian.
    Looking forward to working together again..


  26. Evan Centopani

    Great job with the site! The photos are excellent. I feel like I missed out on being a part of the sport when it was truly great! You’re the man.


  27. Eric Stehle

    Wow..great site. I remember reading about this place in Muscle Mag when I was in my late teens and wishing I could train there. I even had a Gladys Portuguse poster in my room. I also remember how badly I wanted a Team Better Bodies Tank Top like the one Shawn Ray wore – LOL

    Thanks Brain for taking the time to do this so the rest of us can relive our youth.

    Best of health,
    Eric Stehle
    York, PA

  28. Marjo Selin

    I am smiling – your photos brought back so many great memories ! Thank you for including me and Hannu in the
    life of Better Bodies in the 80s. We treasure the fun times we had with you, Gladys, Kristen, Paul, Rochelle, Chi Chi… The Muscle Shows were quite something…Hannu still talks about the photo shoots at Better Bodies when he got to put posing oil on the buns of all the modeling girls…

    Brian, it is very nice that you have created this website.
    Sunny greetings from Maui to everyone !
    Marjo Selin

  29. maurice

    Wow I remember training there during those Night of the Champions weekends. Whatever happened to Kirsten?

  30. Andre Greller

    I was a novice; and certainly not at the level of most members. However; I remember it as a totally new and fun experience. I saw and met array of very “interesting” characters. I would love to know about any future events.

  31. Tim Ralph

    Hey Brian, BetterBodies was the Mecca for Body Building in NYC and dare I say the East Coast. It was great to be a part of it. Those were the good old days, thanks for the memories.

  32. tonio adger

    damm those were such grrreat times,i miss those days and so many of the gang, u, benny,bob bonham.gladys,tom terwillerger,berry demay,ming chew,marjo selin,kirestin,mike athena, orloff,.ect. im sad dat my good friend steve stone passed on.much luv 2 all….tonio snake adger

    • Stewart A. Weisbein

      Hi Snake, I don’t know if your the right person, I think you are. My name is Stewart and I worked out at Metrofit in Pelham manor and I believe you along with your wife Miriam owned Defication Bodywear? My wife Daisy and I along with our son moved to California last July. I have not seen Miriam in over 10 years and I’m visiting NY in a few weeks to visit our daughter. I was wondering if you have a phone number for Miriam or her cousin Jimmy. Any help I would appreciate, thanks, Stewart

  33. Sven

    Nice Site, so cool

  34. David Bahr

    Brian: Must have been freaking fate to run into you on the street today. Wow. What memories. The first gym I ever joined and haven’t stopped since. Amazing pics. Everyone is more beautiful than I remember. Kirsten was the sweetest girl with the most electric smile. And, Benny, one of the nicest (and hottest) guys. Shout out to Keith and Stacy, both still quite fine in body, spirit and mind.

  35. Keith Anthony Cokes

    I was a member of Better Bodies from 1987 to 1995. I would say 30% of the friends I made in New York were members, and most I still consider friends to this day. It was something special because you were made to feel like family when you were there….at least I was. I really developed my physical self there, I was encouraged by Brian and Kirsten, and I feel it was there that I really came into my own in many ways. I spent so much time just hanging out in the gym running my mouth with everyone, I guess that’s why it was more than a gym to me. It was a fuckin’ party sometimes. Brian is one of those weird people who liked what he was doing and you knew it. We would have conversations about just about everything, It was one of the pivotal New York experiences. How many gyms can you say that about? That’s why I say it was so much more than just somewhere to train.

  36. gene x

    Hey Brian very cool stuff. Glad that you have this online – pretty nice to see how things were back in the day when it was all blowing up. Pretty amazing group of people that were training there. Great job!

  37. Philip Graziano

    Well, well..

    This is great. I saw Jeff recently and he mentioned this site. Since I started out late, for me Better Bodies was a great safe place to begin working out. I will always remember the friendly staff and members. Hello to you, Kirsten, Mike, Jeff and Benny the “Rican”. I hope that you all are healthy and well and doing what you love. Let me know when you plan a get-together!! It would be nice to see everyone.



  38. Andrew

    aaah, back in the Day!
    i was a member of 21st Century Nautilus back when GP worked there and ended up at NPC by the early-mid 80s.
    anyone remember Bert?
    took a couple of trips up to BB as well as Broadway Bodybuilders/ PI– ended up with training clients there when the east side shop was over the precinct.
    i remember that back in that time, as CG notes above gyms inspired you to train– and BB was no exception. no matger that it was tiny compared to today’s GloboGyms, no matter that equipment was often homemade, no matter that locker rooms were bare bones– everyone seemed to enjoy it more than i see now in the mega clubs.
    i used to stop in at NPC for the occasional w/o up until they closed in the middle of the night– despite having access to dozens of gyms around town for work.
    thanks for the memories– bookmarking this page for sure.

  39. And Old Member……Renee

    I am an almost middle aged (43) 🙂 year old woman who lives in a suburban town in Maryland. I’ve got the the over sized home, the suv and spend 2 hours riding a mower cutting my grass. I take my son to football practice and jui jitsu like all the other sports mom’s.

    But…..I came across this site and was so taken with what I saw on this entire site. I was born and raised in NYC. I worked in the health club business for almost 10 years in that city. I surely remember selling club memberships all day at a health club in the day and meeting up with my partner in the eve and walking over to BB and training my ass off. I can still see the gym on 19th street. Every so often getting a glimpse of my idols whne in town for shows and my heart fluttering when you would go walking across the floor. I even remember how happy my friend and I were when we heard you were no longer with Gladys. We were silly little girls.

    It was truley a good time to remember in my life. I was young and all my friends and I did was eat and train because we all still lived at home with no responsibilites. I had trained at many gyms around the city including NPC (with that aweful Bob Fuchs and Nicole Bass) and Madison Ave Muscle, but BB is one I can still see the inside of in my mind even though I have not stepped foot in there in about 22-23 years. Maye even more.

    Great Gym!!! Thanks for posting the pics.

    Best of luck to you.

  40. Dear Brian,

    I was just 17 year old kid when I walked up that 1 flight to the second floor on 21st street.

    I was walking into the birth of a sport that was calling my name loudly yet I had no corner to shout for me.

    Of all the things that could’ve gone wrong but didn’t, and all of that was because of YOU.

    Just a baby full of potential, I needed guidance and some magic. That and more existed at the elite club that was the one & only, “Better Bodies”.

    Never asking me for money nor to compromise my integrity, Brian coached me for hours upon hours while shielding me from douche bags who’d have loved to snatch up a young girl and introduce me to a darker side. Better Bodies was my safe house, my comfort zone. I felt protected but inspired. I was coddled yet pushed through barriers to train into the champion Better Bodies made me.

    With the corner that was Brian and Better Bodies, I became a champ and a model. I was performing in venues that were the hottest nightclubs in NYC. Mind you: I wasn’t old enough to get into these clubs. And we didn’t have cell phones. Brian had to come and get me. No one believed I was to be on stage. He’d give his word that I was with “him” and assured these people I wouldn’t be drinking. And his word was good.

    To say I was living this dream of a teenager actually living a life of what was a body builder at the very birth of this sport is an understatement. Its surreal to say the least. And I’ve certainly relinquished the fact that I’ll never do anything as interesting in my life. And I’m proud to say that. What a gift!

    What means even more to me is the way Better Bodies was so ahead of its time. We were doing AIDS benefits about the second the beast came into the world. And so Brian introduced Karma to my mind at a young as age well as biceps. The concept of being grateful and giving back was instilled upon me from being around all of these Angels.

    So to Brian, to all of Better Bodies: I thank you with all my heart for being my corner for so long, and an amazing corner at that.
    Because of you I know who I am and who I’m not.

    I also have a killer career to thank you for. For when you’re a teenage girl needing to be ripped its quite easy to solve any everyday dieting issues of any food related **civilian**.

    Not to mention: You get to be a coach with a hell of a lot of empathy.
    I’m STILL doing what I Love.

    And I’m still in a long life Love relationship with the gym. They’ll never be another club, another Better Bodies. But its still my go to place and wow I just LOVE that I’m STILL the BABY!!

    Eternal thanks Brian.

    And “thank you” isn’t a big enough phrase for Jeff Bell. I miss you my friend.

    With Love Always,
    Baby Athena

  41. Hello.
    I got to go to your gym two times on a guest pass. I got to see you and Ms. Portugues. You both took a peek out of your office then went back in. I was 17 years old at that time when I visited. I got two passes from a counselor from The Door. That was a center for young people just down 17th street on avenue of the americas.
    I didn’t know what I wanted to do about bodybuilding back then all I know was that I trained just for the fun of it. I was already built by that time. I was training for the Metropolitan Competition which I never attended. I had to leave the gym I was attending then. I had other life situations going on. My life was changing quick.
    It was a very nice experience going to your gym at least for those two days. Thank you both so much for peeking out from your office to take a look at me. No one ever told me about what service your gym provided all this man did was give me those two passes. I learned about the modeling service today while I search to look for what ever happened to your gym. I learned it closed a long time ago. I hope you’re doing fine and heading off to better moments in time.

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