Rebecca Parekh and Sarrah Hallock, two of the three co-founders of the THE WELL, have been running on adrenaline ever since the members-only wellness club officially opened its doors in late September. You can't go anywhere inside the 18,000-square-foot bi-level space in New York City's Flatiron district, designed by Liubasha Rose of Rose Ink Workshop, without feeling like you need to post a picture ASAP. The retail area in the front, open to the public, is complete with Insta-worthy shelves filled with crystals, home goods, and beauty products—all made with sustainably-sourced ingredients. On the other side of the shelves, fresh fruit and vegetables that belong to the club's full-service restaurant, THE WELL Kitchen + Table, are on display near the white tables that double as a workspace and eating area.
If this isn't peak #wellness, I don't know what is.
When my tour with Parekh and Hallock begins, I'm led through a door with the words "members area" on it, which separates the workspace and restaurant from the wellness haven waiting for me inside. Upon entering, I'm greeted by the club's signature scent of frankincense, bergamot, and grapefruit created by bioalchemist Michelle Gagnon, and suddenly I forget about the crowd of screaming school children I passed on my way in. Wellness.
THE WELL houses a meditation dome, a full-fledged spa equipped with a gorgeous locker room and two steam and sauna rooms, a library that holds events, lectures, workshops, and weekly emotional support circles, a mindful movement studio that hosts up to 10 classes per day, a mini fitness center with a personal trainer, a reflexology lounge for foot and head massages that can be enjoyed while sipping a glass of wine (or water or tea), and private rooms for once-a-month health coach sessions. Beyond its amenities, THE WELL's goal is for members to have access to their acupuncturist and their "real" doctor under the same roof, using both Eastern healing and Western medicine to help you become the healthiest version of yourself.
Of course, wellness comes at a price: Access to all of these amenities costs $375 per month (minus the practitioners trained in Functional & Integrative Medicine, Chinese Medicine, Sports Medicine, and Ayurveda—that's à la carte), plus a $500 initiation fee. If you're under the age of 32, membership is $210 per month.
Back in 2009, when Parekh was still working in finance and began to think about how to bring destination wellness to an urban market, it wasn't the $4.2 trillion dollar global industry it is today. Juice Press didn't exist; Soul Cycle only had a couple locations. It took six years and a career transition into the health and wellness industry for Parekh, inspired by the doctors and practitioners she met while working at Deepak Chopra, to finally take the leap and turn her idea into a reality. She decided to partner with Hallock, who's been on her own wellness journey since she was diagnosed with Hashimoto's disease, and Kane Sarhan, THE WELL's third co-founder and CCO, after being introduced to them through a mutual friend named Reshma Saujani. (You may know her as the founder of Girls Who Code.) That's when the magic began.
"In some ways we’re just like, ‘take off your shoes. Sip tea. Slow down. Get a foot rub. Do yoga. Have a conversation with a friend. Read a book.’ But we also have genetic testing and state-of-the-art blood tests looking at expanded thyroid panels and vitamins and all sorts of things," says Parekh, who wants THE WELL to revolutionize health care by incorporating various healing practices. "It’s kind of like we’re going back in time, but powered by all of the good things in time as well."
Unlike popular membership-based clubs like The Assembly or The Wing, THE WELL is geared towards both men and women, aiming to reach those of us just getting started on our wellness journeys (define it as you will!), and others who have been exploring wellness for years. So far, membership has been generated based on word-of-mouth, with Parekh and Hallock hosting small gatherings in their homes and discussing their visions with close friends and investors (Will Smith is one of them). Parekh and Hallock say a lot of couples have already joined, mostly in their 30s, 40s, and 50s, and they want the club to be as accessible as possible for its 400 members and counting.
"We’re trying to create this holistic ecosystem where we’re looking at you as a whole person, not a bunch of isolated parts," explains Parekh. "We can’t just preach to our own choir. We have to invite in people who aren’t as far along on their wellness path. That's how you shift the conversation."
THE WELL plans to open three to five clubs within the next few years, starting with another location in New York and then hopping over to the West Coast. All of the practitioners who work full-time have shares in the company—a clear way for Parekh, Hallock, and Sarhan to make sure its 140 employees feel connected to the larger goal of the club: To become the "gold standard for wellness," and empower members to take care of themselves.
Before Parekh and Hallock say their goodbyes, they kindly offer me water or tea. I opt for iced coffee instead and Hallock points me towards the area near the front window where I can find oat milk and almond milk. There is no cream, so I pretend that I always take my coffee with almond milk. My laptop and I settle in at one of the white tables, and an employee with "Welcome to Wellness" written on her long sleeve shirt comes over and offers me a vegan spring roll. A few minutes later, another employee asks me if I want to try a piece of chocolate bark. Balance! ...Had my wellness journey just begun?
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