When location scouts from the show Portlandia call to use your gym, you say yes.
That’s what happened to Janan Bejaige — owner of Rebel Health NW — a renaissance woman of fitness and a longtime Portland resident.
Bejaige, a well known personal trainer around Portland, built her home gym in 2012 and outfitted it with elite equipment and fitness gadgets. The idea was to create a personal, intimate, and quiet space. It was the perfect setting for show producers filming Season 8, Episode 10 — the final episode of the quirky and offbeat show that helped put Portland on the map.
Having the gym featured on Portlandia’s series finale was unexpected and thrilling to Bejaige. It all started when the show was filming in a neighborhood park and producers were looking for a nearby gym. The location scout — who Bejaige knew from her early bartending days — reached out about shooting a scene at Rebel Health. It was an opportunity of a lifetime to have her gym showcased, with hundreds of thousands of viewers tuning in to watch the final episode.
Film day arrived and it was go time. The crew took over the entire neighborhood block to shoot scenes. Bejaige says, “We bought cupcakes for the crew. We hung out with the actors and support staff for a while. The neighborhood was crazy about it all. It was a party atmosphere and a lot of fun.”
In the gym scene, which took about 4-hours to shoot, the main characters, Fred and Carrie, have decided to sign up for the Portland Marathon as a distraction from all the depressing news. They join a gym and hire a trainer named Bailey. In the process of training them, Bailey flirts endlessly with Carrie, lavishing her with praise the entire time while completely ignoring Fred. The ending provides a funny twist on why she is doing this.
While the filming took place both inside and outside her house — including a giant green screen in their front yard — Bejaige, her wife, and several friends and neighbors sat on the porch and watched it all unfold. Portlandia’s director, Bill Benz, asked Bejaige to be in a scene for another storyline so she went down to the wardrobe trailer with main actress Carrie Brownstein’s dad who was there for the filming and in the same storyline. Bejaige says while it is difficult to see her in the final cut, the entire experience was a lot of fun.
Asked if she would ever do it again, Bejaige says, “Absolutely”. She jokingly adds, “but, next time it would be great if there was also the benefit of some Hollywood money to go with it!”
You can watch the full episode of Portlandia’s series finale here by signing up at IFC.