First, WeWork did offices. Then came a co-living offshoot, WeLive, in which people rent furnished apartments for months at a time. Now … WeSweat?
In a dimly lit studio in the bowels of 85 Broad Street, Goldman Sachs’s former headquarters in the financial district of New York, Jooin Im sat on a mat before a small class of yogis.
Referring to a story she had heard on a “This American Life” podcast, Ms. Im talked about a truck driver who got tired of the grind: the same route, the same street signs, the same paycheck. So he drives off into the sunset (as it were), taking his bus from New York all the way to a moonlit Florida beach. “‘What happens when you take a leap?’” Ms. Im asked, quoting from the podcast.
She was leading a class called Flow that has been designed to infuse yoga with an “entrepreneurial spirit,” at Rise by We, a new gym and wellness facility that will open officially next week.
Rise is the newest venture from the WeWork company, which has brought foosball-infused bro-deco co-working spaces to 56 cities in 16 countries. The company says it has sold 150,000 memberships that entitle users to work out at the various locations.
The goal of “We,” as executives refer to the company, is to overtake any conceivable venue for entrepreneurial-minded up-and-comers who are drawn to a clubby sense of community and the turnkey ease (if impersonal feel) of communal spaces.
“We” wants to go from owning the place its members go to work to dictating “ultimately where to live, ultimately where to work out, ultimately where to meet their friends for a drink after work,” said Michael Gross, the company’s vice chairman. (Clearly, next will come WeGotDrunk.)
But back to Rise, which the executive team also considered calling WeRun or WeWorkOut.
After yoga, WeTook (well?) a tour of the facility, led by Avi Yehiel, WeWork’s head of wellness. He was a professional soccer player in Israel and is married to the sister of Adam Neumann, one of WeWork’s founders. Mr. Yehiel, in addition to at least a couple of WeWork publicists, helped fill the yoga class, although his real love is Pilates.
The lobby is chock-full of drinks, snacks and beauty products, many of which are being made or marketed by companies run out of WeWork offices. There is This Granola Is Nuts. Here are Supergoop skin products. “We are always looking for ways to help our members,” Mr. Yehiel said.
To that end, Rise, many floors beneath 85 Broad’s WeWork floors, has a turf-covered area with CrossFit-like equipment, a large boxing studio that is heavy with heavy-bags and a cardio room for boot-camp workouts.
To extend into WeWork’s overall emphasis on communal habitats, both the male and female locker rooms at Rise lead to a large Jerusalem-stone-tiled area with a coed hot tub and sauna, run by an attendant named Jonathan who gently reminds people taking calls in the sauna that smartphones can melt. “It’s a process of educating people,” he said.
As part of an introductory offer, the cost of joining Rise is $180 per month, although the cost of Rise will rise to $250 per month later in the fall. (Membership entitles those who are not WeWork members to use certain WeWork facilities at designated times.) You can also pop in for four visits a month for $100.
Kaveh Akbari, 25, is the vice president for marketing and strategic partnerships for MBK Sports Management Group and works out of WeWork’s 85 Broad location. He joined Rise this summer when it offered early membership. Mr. Akbari uses the gym about five times a week, and he likes the efficiency of commuting by elevator. He also loves the coed spa.
And he likes how the yoga classes connect his spiritual wellness to his career ambitions. In a recent class he attended, an instructor told the yogis that he sees them as they see their own clients. Here, we are all people with problems who need someone to offer them solutions. “I’m doing the same thing,” the yoga teacher said.