22 Sep 2021 World leisure: news, training & property
Sign up for FREE ezine

Spa Business
2018 issue 1

View issue contents

Leisure Management - Rise by We


Rise by We

New York workspace entrepreneurs WeWork have added health, fitness and wellness to their suite of offerings. Avi Yehiel, the company’s head of wellness, tells Kath Hudson about its innovative new wellness concept, Rise by We

Kath Hudson
Turf is home to a high-performance training programme that uses science, technology and training
Avi Yehiel is WeWork’s head of wellness
Launched in 2010 by entrepreneurs Miguel McKelvey (left) and Adam Newmann, WeWork has now expanded to 170 offices and is valued at US$20bn
WeWork has now expanded to 170 offices and is valued at US$20bn
A ‘superspa’ has been inspired by the old traditions of communal bathing
The Mindfulness studio is where yoga and meditation classes take place at Rise
Polished finishes and natural materials have been used in the design of Rise by We

Rise by We is like no other place and we see it as the future of wellbeing,” says head of wellness at WeWork, Avi Yehiel. “It’s a new concept of social fitness brought to life in an architecturally stunning environment, combining human connection with great training programmes and mindfulness.”

Rise is a wellness club and ‘superspa’ designed for modern-day lifestyles. As such, it blurs the line between spa and fitness, and features a large dose of social and community-building elements.

Cherry-picking aspects from both health clubs and spas, Yehiel says the model is groundbreaking because it offers group fitness, multiple boutique studios, wellness programmes, personal training and a complete spa experience all under one roof. Members no longer need to jump from studio to studio, but can service all their health and wellbeing needs under one roof: a Muay Thai class followed by a sauna and meditation one day and a HIIT class, yoga and massage the next.

Although a health club/spa might seem an unlikely bedfellow with office space, it fits with WeWork’s mission to make every facet of people’s lives as inspiring, enjoyable and sociable as possible. Launched in 2010 by entrepreneurs Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey, WeWork set out to curate office space where “people work to make a life, not just a living”. The model starts with a hot desk, at entry level, up to a custom build-out for a company. WeWork has now grown to 170 offices in 58 cities worldwide, and is valued at nearly US$20bn, putting it in the same league as Uber and Airbnb.

Space to breathe
In keeping with its aim to make the working environment sociable and its inhabitants healthy, the company has organised sporting events at its offices from the outset, including weekly soccer and basketball matches, fitness classes, meditation and retreats. Yehiel says Rise, the first physical site, is simply an extension of this philosophy. The company tested the ground early last year with WeWork Wellness, a pilot programme offering 20 to 30 classes per week, including yoga, HIIT, pilates, kickboxing and meditation, to WeWork members in New York City.

The success of the pilot encouraged the company to go on to launch Rise last October at one of its New York offices, which serves 2,500 WeWork members. “We want to make wellness easier to access, because coming down for meditation or a quick workout in the middle of the day has so many great health and mental benefits,” says Yehiel. “The need for holistic wellness is now bigger than ever, as people are working harder and longer hours, so increased stress levels in the workplace are one of the biggest problems in modern life. Our aim is to offer a place which lets members take a moment or two for themselves: to breathe, relax, and get ready for what’s next.”

Spa as community
The wellness offering is an essential element that binds the experience together, and a ‘superspa’ at Rise has been inspired by the old traditions of communal bathing. “From the Greeks to the Russians, every culture has its own bathing tradition and we wanted to create our own culture around that type of traditional relaxation and recovery. We see it as another way to bring people together,” says Yehiel.

The sociable element that WeWork has created at its offices permeates the entire experience at Rise. “WeWork’s mission is to humanise work, so putting the social experience at the centre of fitness is how we intend to reinvent the traditional gym experience,” says Yehiel. “It’s personal when it needs to be, social when it needs to be, and always welcoming.”

The spa area has aromatherapy, steam and sauna rooms, a communal hammam area and a cold water plunge. Three forms of therapeutic massage are on offer, rather than cosmetic treatments like pedicures and facials. “We see recovery as a key aspect of fitness and exercise, and relaxation and rejuvenation as key to maintaining focus and success in both professional and personal lives, so we’ve focused on offering the most therapeutic treatments in line with these goals,” says Yehiel.

Sense of place
The elements that have proved popular with WeWork have been translated into a health and fitness setting, including the highly stylised environment. Yehiel says that like all of the WeWork spaces, the goal in designing Rise was to create a space that feels curated, special, and connected as a whole. “We have juxtaposed elements of hard and soft, and light and dark, both visually and texturally,” he says. “The design team set the building’s structural steel components against polished finishes, and natural materials, such as stone, marble and wood. Custom artwork has been added to create a timeless and layered aesthetic.”

There are four different workout areas: the Fight studio is where boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts take place. Flight is designed for high-intensity cardio activities and incorporates traditional training equipment on one side and battle ropes in the middle. The Mindfulness studio is where yoga and meditation take place, and Turf is home to a high-performance training programme that uses science, technology and coaching. Members have an in-depth assessment, including a 3D body scan, which is then used to inform a bespoke training programme. “We’re bringing WeWork’s focus on community to wellness, which is apparent from the moment you step in and are greeted by our Rise by We community team,” says Yehiel. “Rather than coming to the gym, putting your headphones on, and running on a treadmill alone, Rise by We’s group classes and semi-private training encourage community and connectedness.”

Although WeWork plans to grow the community in the future, there are no immediate plans to launch more sites. However, the company certainly won’t stand still, but will continue to look for ways to bring its progressive outlook to contemporary lifestyles. Indeed, just in November 2017, WeWork acquired Meetup, a company whose mission it is to get people off the internet and meeting up to create physical communities, rather than digital ones.

Growing the ‘we’ brand

Last year, the company made its first diversion from the working environment, applying its philosophy to living spaces. WeLive rents out co-living, furnished apartments in buildings where laundry rooms double as bars and event spaces, communal kitchens, roof decks and hot tubs. There are now two locations – one in New York City and one in Crystal City, Virginia. A third has been announced for Seattle, Washington, in 2020.

WeWork plans to create opportunities wherever it sees a gap in the market. One of these is WeGrow, a micro-school where subjects like mindfulness, yoga and farm-to-table cooking are on the curriculum. Children learn reading and maths skills by growing their own food at the school’s farm and selling it at a farm stand in the WeWork offices.

The concept came about when the company’s co-founder, Adam Neumann, and his wife Rebekah couldn’t find a school for their children that suited their requirements, arguing that the education system squashes entrepreneurial spirit. The concept is already generating quite a buzz, and star architect Bjarke Ingels has signed on to design the first school. Going forward, the company would like to open WeGrow schools in WeWork offices, so that families can travel to work and school together and meet at lunchtime.


Children will learn concepts such as mindfulness, yoga and farm-to-table cooking at WeGrow

Architect Bjarke Ingels has signed on to design the first WeGrow school

Rebekah Neumann has been involved in the concept of the first WeGrow school


Originally published in Spa Business 2018 issue 1

Published by Leisure Media Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385 | Contact us | About us | © Cybertrek Ltd