BENTONVILLE -- The first amenity at the Walmart New Home Office opens Friday.
The new Walton Family Whole Health and Fitness Center at 1400 S.E. Fifth St. in Bentonville offers a variety of classes, workout spaces and services for all Walmart and Sam's Club associates and their families.
Megan Henley, director of Whole Health and Fitness at Walmart, said the new space will replace the Walton Family Life Fitness Center, which closed in December.
The 360,000-square-foot facility has workout and wellness options which range from traditional treadmills and weight rooms to tennis and basketball courts. There are also wellness areas including a yoga and sound bath studio, as well as cryotherapy options in the "rest and restore" area.
Henley said the company kept a lot of associate feedback in mind when building the space, making sure to honor requests when able. These included a dedicated lap pool, squash courts and continuing childcare through the Youth Activity Center.
Children 13 and older are able to use the fitness amenities with parent supervision, but children 6 months to 12 years old use the youth center. Henley said this helps parents put their attention toward their workout, while knowing their child is taken care of.
The youth classrooms include a dance studio, fitness area and "tween room," which Henley said had a lot of STEAM activities to encourage learning about fitness and whole health approaches.
Whole health is a perspective that prioritizes physical, mental and spiritual well being. Instead of focusing on one aspect, it tries to integrate them.
Henley said the idea of bringing the outside in was one of the main priorities, and some of her favorite spots in the building are where natural stone was used to create quiet, reflective spaces.
The center takes a similar approach both architecturally and philosophically to the Heartland Whole Health Institute, founded by Alice Walton in 2019.
"We are delighted to see the state-of-the-art center open and expand access to valuable, behavior-changing whole health programs in our region," said Augusta Branham, a spokeswoman for the institute. "This is a leading example of how companies can make a meaningful difference in employee health and well being, and thousands of Walmart associates and families will benefit greatly from having this center on campus."
Henley said there are currently 13,000 individuals enrolled at the Whole Health Fitness Center, but she expects to see more. Memberships are deducted from associate's paychecks on a biweekly basis.
While the fitness center is in Bentonville, other cities across Northwest Arkansas are set to benefit from its construction as well.
"We see it from our perspective as a benefit to those major employers because having a healthier workforce just increases productivity, reduces sick time and it just helps keep our community thriving," said Steve Cox, Rogers-Lowell Chamber senior vice president of economic development.
"If you're able to work more, then you're able to get more money, which means you're able to go out to eat and spend on retail."