BENTONVILLE -- The first amenity at the new Walmart home office opens Friday.
The Walton Family Whole Health and Fitness Center at 1400 S.E. 5th St. in Bentonville offers a variety of classes, workout spaces and services for 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.
"It gave us this great foundation of taking care of our people at Walmart for the past 40 years," said Henley about the former fitness center. "This is just the next generation of being able to do that."
The 360,000-square-foot facility has expansive workout and wellness options, which range from traditional treadmills and weight rooms to tennis and basketball courts. Wellness areas include a yoga and sound bath studio, as well as cryotherapy options in the "rest and restore" area.
Henley said the center 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 child care 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, which has 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 integrates all of them. "Pause, Reflect, Choose" is a whole health philosophy Henley said the center is teaching to encourage mindfulness and being present.
"It's kind of a mindful, meditative practice that we're encouraging," she said. "Not only in the way we talk about it and teach people about whole health, but you'll see it really designed into the building."
Henley said some of her favorite spaces in the center are the ones designed for reflective moments. These spots often have lots of natural light, greenery and views of the campus.
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."
The Walton Family Holdings Trust invested $225 million into the whole health and fitness center, according to previous reporting by the Northwest Arkansas-Democrat Gazette.
This building is the first amenity on the 350-acre new Home Office in the heart of Bentonville. Construction on the headquarters is being done in phases but expected to be completed in 2025.
"Creating this to be the first amenity building offering, I think really speaks to the value that we see in our associates and their households," said Raven Washabaugh, Walmart senior manager of global communications. "This is something that they can start participating in and being involved in as soon as Friday. They'll be able to step on campus for the first time and see this is why they're here."
While the 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 retail. It just increases the sales tax base and just overall increases the quality of life for workers, not just those with Walmart but their families that might work in other organizations as well."
Henley said there are currently 13,000 individuals enrolled at the Whole Health Fitness Center, but she expects to see more as the center opens.
Membership costs are deducted from associates' paychecks on a biweekly basis. Individual memberships are $12 a paycheck and family memberships are $21 a paycheck. Family memberships cover a spouse or domestic partner and dependents in the same household younger than 26.
These memberships allow access to the fitness center and some classes. Henley said some classes will cost extra, such as cooking classes in the nutrition kitchen.
Walmart and Sam's Club associates are able to access the Rest and Restore area regardless of membership. This area has cryotherapy chairs, a massage therapist and a registered dietitian.
Henley said meetings with dietitians and some massage therapists are paid services, but they're still available to associates without a formal membership to the center.
"This is a great gift from the Walton family that's going to take care of us and our families for all the years that they're with the company," Henley said.
Walmart New Home Office
Construction began 2019 is expected to complete in 2025. The next amenity building, Little Squiggles Children's Enrichment Center, is expected to open in May.
Media given tour of new fitness center