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The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
features

Interview: Avi Yehiel, We Work

New York brand WeWork is best known for providing shared workspaces. However, the company is now casting its net further afield by adding fitness and wellness to its offerings. Head of wellness Avi Yehiel tells Kath Hudson about its innovative new wellness concept, Rise by We

Published in Health Club Management 2018 issue 1

We see Rise by We 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 that combines human connection with great training programmes and mindfulness.”

Cherry-picking aspects from both health clubs and spas, Yehiel says the model is groundbreaking because it’s the first wellness facility to offer 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 wellbeing needs under one roof: a Muay Thai class, followed by a sauna and meditation one day and a HIIT class followed by yoga and massage the next.

Although a health club and office space may seem unlikely bedfellows, the concept fits with WeWork’s mission to make every facet of people’s lives as enjoyable and sociable as possible. Launched in 2010 by entrepreneurs Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey, WeWork sets out to curate office space where “people work to make a life, not just a living.” The company’s workspace service ranges from a simple hot desk for solopreneurs to a custom build-out for companies. WeWork has now expanded to 170 offices in 58 cities around the world, with 150,000 members. Valued at almost US$20bn, it’s in the same league as Uber and Airbnb.

Space to breathe
In keeping with its aim to make the working environment sociable and keep workers healthy, the company has organised sporting events at its offices from the outset, including weekly football 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 idea 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 launch Rise last October at one of its New York offices – a site that serves about 2,500 WeWork members.

“We want to make wellness easier to access, because coming down for a meditation or a quick workout in the middle of the day has so many great physical and mental health benefits,“ says Yehiel. “The need for holistic wellness is now bigger than ever. People are working harder and for longer, so increased stress in the workplace is one of the biggest problems in modern life. Our aim is to offer a place that lets members take a moment or two to breathe, relax, and get ready for what’s next.”

Sense of community
So what is it that makes the Rise experience so special? Many of the elements that have proven popular with WeWork users have been translated into the health and fitness setting. First is the brand’s highly stylised environment and distinct design. Yehiel says that, like all WeWork spaces, the Rise space has been designed to feel 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.”

Next is the social element that WeWork has created at its office spaces, which permeates the 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.

“We’re also bringing WeWork’s focus on community to wellness, which is apparent from the moment you step inside and are greeted by our Rise by We community team. 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, while providing the instruction and encouragement you need to push further and reach your goals.”

Thirdly, WeWork has been selective about the mix of services it offers for rejuvenating body, mind and spirit. 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 strength training. It incorporates traditional training equipment on one side and battle ropes in the middle. The third studio is Mindfulness, a sanctuary for relaxation, where yoga and meditation take place. Finally, Turf is home to a high-performance training programme, which uses science, technology and coaching. Members have an in-depth assessment, including a 3D body scan, which is used in the creation of a bespoke training programme.

New bathing tradition
The wellness offering is another essential element that binds the experience together and the concept for the Rise superspa was inspired by the traditions of communal bathing. “From the Greeks to the Russians, every culture has its own bathing tradition,” says Yehiel “We wanted to create our own culture around that type of traditional relaxation and recovery. We see it as another way of bringing people together.”

The spa area also offers aromatherapy and has steam rooms and saunas, a communal hammam area, as well as a cold-water plunge. Three forms of therapeutic massage are available, rather than cosmetic treatments like pedicures and facials. “We see recovery as a key aspect of fitness and exercise, and we see relaxation and rejuvenation as key to maintaining focus and success in both our professional and personal lives. Therefore, we have focussed on offering the most therapeutic treatments in line with these goals,” says Yehiel.

Although WeWork has been delighted with the positive response to Rise and 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. It will continue to look for ways to bring its progressive outlook to contemporary lifestyles. A testament to that is WeWork’s recent acquisition of Meetup, a company whose mission it is to get people to meet up and create physical communities, rather than digital ones.

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
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Editor's letter

Into the fitaverse

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Ali Jawad

Paralympic powerlifter and founder, Accessercise
Users can easily identify which facilities in the UK are accessible to the disabled community
Fit Tech people

Hannes Sjöblad

MD, DSruptive
We want to give our users an implantable tool that allows them to collect their health data at any time and in any setting
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Jamie Buck

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We created a solution called AiT Voice, which turns digital data into a spoken audio timetable that connects to phone systems
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Bold move

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Sam Cole, CEO of FitXR, talks to Fit Tech about taking digital workouts to the next level, with an immersive, virtual reality fitness club
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Going hybrid

Workout Anytime created its app in partnership with Virtuagym. Workout Anytime’s Greg Maurer and Virtuagym’s Hugo Braam explain the process behind its creation
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Physical activity monitors boost activity levels

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Editor's letter

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Content providers have been hugely active in the fit tech market since the start of the pandemic. We expect the industry to move on from delivering these services on a ‘broadcast-only’ basis as two-way coaching becomes the new USP
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Laurent Petit

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The future of sports and fitness are dependent on the climate. Our goal is to positively influence the future of our planet by instilling a global vision of wellbeing and a sense of collective action
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Adam Zeitsiff

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We don’t just create the technology and bail – we support our clients’ ongoing hybridisation efforts
Fit Tech People

Anantharaman Pattabiraman

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When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen
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features

Interview: Avi Yehiel, We Work

New York brand WeWork is best known for providing shared workspaces. However, the company is now casting its net further afield by adding fitness and wellness to its offerings. Head of wellness Avi Yehiel tells Kath Hudson about its innovative new wellness concept, Rise by We

Published in Health Club Management 2018 issue 1

We see Rise by We 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 that combines human connection with great training programmes and mindfulness.”

Cherry-picking aspects from both health clubs and spas, Yehiel says the model is groundbreaking because it’s the first wellness facility to offer 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 wellbeing needs under one roof: a Muay Thai class, followed by a sauna and meditation one day and a HIIT class followed by yoga and massage the next.

Although a health club and office space may seem unlikely bedfellows, the concept fits with WeWork’s mission to make every facet of people’s lives as enjoyable and sociable as possible. Launched in 2010 by entrepreneurs Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey, WeWork sets out to curate office space where “people work to make a life, not just a living.” The company’s workspace service ranges from a simple hot desk for solopreneurs to a custom build-out for companies. WeWork has now expanded to 170 offices in 58 cities around the world, with 150,000 members. Valued at almost US$20bn, it’s in the same league as Uber and Airbnb.

Space to breathe
In keeping with its aim to make the working environment sociable and keep workers healthy, the company has organised sporting events at its offices from the outset, including weekly football 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 idea 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 launch Rise last October at one of its New York offices – a site that serves about 2,500 WeWork members.

“We want to make wellness easier to access, because coming down for a meditation or a quick workout in the middle of the day has so many great physical and mental health benefits,“ says Yehiel. “The need for holistic wellness is now bigger than ever. People are working harder and for longer, so increased stress in the workplace is one of the biggest problems in modern life. Our aim is to offer a place that lets members take a moment or two to breathe, relax, and get ready for what’s next.”

Sense of community
So what is it that makes the Rise experience so special? Many of the elements that have proven popular with WeWork users have been translated into the health and fitness setting. First is the brand’s highly stylised environment and distinct design. Yehiel says that, like all WeWork spaces, the Rise space has been designed to feel 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.”

Next is the social element that WeWork has created at its office spaces, which permeates the 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.

“We’re also bringing WeWork’s focus on community to wellness, which is apparent from the moment you step inside and are greeted by our Rise by We community team. 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, while providing the instruction and encouragement you need to push further and reach your goals.”

Thirdly, WeWork has been selective about the mix of services it offers for rejuvenating body, mind and spirit. 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 strength training. It incorporates traditional training equipment on one side and battle ropes in the middle. The third studio is Mindfulness, a sanctuary for relaxation, where yoga and meditation take place. Finally, Turf is home to a high-performance training programme, which uses science, technology and coaching. Members have an in-depth assessment, including a 3D body scan, which is used in the creation of a bespoke training programme.

New bathing tradition
The wellness offering is another essential element that binds the experience together and the concept for the Rise superspa was inspired by the traditions of communal bathing. “From the Greeks to the Russians, every culture has its own bathing tradition,” says Yehiel “We wanted to create our own culture around that type of traditional relaxation and recovery. We see it as another way of bringing people together.”

The spa area also offers aromatherapy and has steam rooms and saunas, a communal hammam area, as well as a cold-water plunge. Three forms of therapeutic massage are available, rather than cosmetic treatments like pedicures and facials. “We see recovery as a key aspect of fitness and exercise, and we see relaxation and rejuvenation as key to maintaining focus and success in both our professional and personal lives. Therefore, we have focussed on offering the most therapeutic treatments in line with these goals,” says Yehiel.

Although WeWork has been delighted with the positive response to Rise and 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. It will continue to look for ways to bring its progressive outlook to contemporary lifestyles. A testament to that is WeWork’s recent acquisition of Meetup, a company whose mission it is to get people to meet up and create physical communities, rather than digital ones.

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
Gallery
More features
Editor's letter

Into the fitaverse

Fitness is already among the top three markets in the metaverse, with new technology and partnerships driving real growth and consumer engagement that looks likely to spill over into health clubs, gyms and studios
Fit Tech people

Ali Jawad

Paralympic powerlifter and founder, Accessercise
Users can easily identify which facilities in the UK are accessible to the disabled community
Fit Tech people

Hannes Sjöblad

MD, DSruptive
We want to give our users an implantable tool that allows them to collect their health data at any time and in any setting
Fit Tech people

Jamie Buck

Co-founder, Active in Time
We created a solution called AiT Voice, which turns digital data into a spoken audio timetable that connects to phone systems
Profile

Fahad Alhagbani: reinventing fitness

The team is young and ambitious, and the awareness of technology is very high. We share trends and out-of-the-box ideas almost every day
Opinion

Building on the blockchain

For small sports teams looking to compete with giants, blockchain can be a secret weapon explains Lars Rensing, CEO of Protokol
Innovation

Bold move

Our results showed a greater than 60 per cent reduction in falls for individuals who actively participated in Bold’s programme
App analysis

Check your form

Sency’s motion analysis technology is allowing users to check their technique as they exercise. Co-founder and CEO Gal Rotman explains how
Profile

New reality

Sam Cole, CEO of FitXR, talks to Fit Tech about taking digital workouts to the next level, with an immersive, virtual reality fitness club
Profile

Sohail Rashid

My vision was to create a platform that could improve the sport for lifters at all levels and attract more people, similar to how Strava, Peloton and Zwift have in other sports
Ageing

Reverse Ageing

Many apps help people track their health, but Humanity founders Peter Ward and Michael Geer have put the focus on ageing, to help users to see the direct repercussions of their habits. They talk to Steph Eaves
App analysis

Going hybrid

Workout Anytime created its app in partnership with Virtuagym. Workout Anytime’s Greg Maurer and Virtuagym’s Hugo Braam explain the process behind its creation
Research

Physical activity monitors boost activity levels

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have conducted a meta analysis of all relevant research and found that the body of evidence shows an impact
Editor's letter

Two-way coaching

Content providers have been hugely active in the fit tech market since the start of the pandemic. We expect the industry to move on from delivering these services on a ‘broadcast-only’ basis as two-way coaching becomes the new USP
Fit Tech People

Laurent Petit

Co-founder, Active Giving
The future of sports and fitness are dependent on the climate. Our goal is to positively influence the future of our planet by instilling a global vision of wellbeing and a sense of collective action
Fit Tech People

Adam Zeitsiff

CEO, Intelivideo
We don’t just create the technology and bail – we support our clients’ ongoing hybridisation efforts
Fit Tech People

Anantharaman Pattabiraman

CEO and co-founder, Auro
When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen
Fit Tech People

Mike Hansen

Managing partner, Endorphinz
We noticed a big gap in the market – customers needed better insights but also recommendations on what to do, whether that be customer acquisition, content creation, marketing and more
More features