October 20, 2017
WeWork Opens Its First Gym, “Rise By We”
Located in Manhattan’s Financial District, Rise By We aims to replicate the co-working company’s communal, playful brand.
WeWork is expanding its conquest of office spaces and residences (see: WeLive) to a new arena: wellness.
The coworking company’s Rise By We brand has been years in the making. In fact, WeWork has long incorporated “wellness” elements into its corporate identity, with the company making classes, events, and retreats a part of its members’ and employees’ experiences. In early 2016, WeWork even started a pilot program–the WeWork Wellness app–that let individuals sign up for classes of yoga, kickboxing, meditation, pilates, etc. The new Rise By We gym, located in Manhattan’s Financial District, is a natural programmatic extension of those efforts. Architecturally, however, creating Rise By We was no simple task. WeWork’s in-house design team had to translate the company’s existing identity to a functional gym confined by what is, in essence, a basement.
Brittney Hart, WeWork’s Head of Interior Design, says Rise By We seeks to foster an “elevated, playful gym experience” that draws from–by does not replicate–the WeWork office palette. It’s an interesting combination of residential and industrial aesthetics, with exposed steel beams and plywood panels juxtaposed with artwork and comfy furniture. Without natural light, finishes became a major focus: the designers wanted to “play with reflections, light and dark, [with] low-brow materials used in high ways.”
A second strategy was to engender a sense of informality. Hart and her team wanted the interiors to “feel like an assembly of a kit of parts.” To wit, many surfaces are applied with a bit of whimsy: square tiles are laid with flourishes, steel plates feature bespoke patterns of screws, plywood panels are hung from brass pegs. The influence of Memphis, with its basic geometries and playful colors, is very much present. As Hart puts it, a “big design goal was to create spaces that feel of no time.”
Programmatically, Rise By We replicates the community aspirations of WeWork by hosting mostly group classes and training sessions. At the moment, the gym’s primary spaces include a general purpose workout space (dubbed “Turf,” after its special athletic turf floor), a boxing room (“Fight”), a treadmill and erg room (“Flight”), and a yoga room (“Mindfulness”). But that community-based experience is also evidenced in the gym’s “superspa,” which includes a small juice bar, sauna, steam room, and jacuzzi, where members can relax and gather.
For the moment, this Rise by We gym is a “beta” test case. Future locations will likely–though not necessarily–come alongside WeWork offices and WeLive apartments. Monthly membership, which includes superspa access and unlimited classes, runs at $180 per month, while other options include four visits per month ($100) or single massage session ($45 for a 30-minute Swedish massage.)
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