Walmart ready to open new Whole Health fitness center on corporate campus

Walmart ready to open new Whole Health fitness center on corporate campus

Walmart is set to open on Friday (Jan. 12) its new 360,000-square-foot Walton Family Whole Health & Fitness center on its new home office campus – which is still under construction – in the heart of Bentonville.

It’s been two years in the making, but the expansive facility is a step up from the decades-old fitness center dedicated to employees by Walmart founders Sam and Helen Walton more than 40 years ago. Last year, the Walton Family invested $225 million into the new health and fitness center and a separate childcare center still under construction across the street. Walmart declined to say how much the fitness facility cost to build.

Megan Henley, director of Walmart Whole Health, said health and well-being are important to Walmart and the new center integrates services and fitness opportunities that should appeal to the retailer’s broad employee roster. She said the center can be used by any employee of Walmart and Sam’s Club including supply chain and store workers.

The vast array of fitness classes and workout facilities and the onsite childcare services are only available to employees who buy a membership for themselves and/or their family members. The membership costs $12 for the employee by payroll deduction every two weeks. The cost for a family is $21 bi-weekly. The cost at the older center was $9 per pay period.

The onsite childcare center features age-appropriate rooms and toys and a fenced outdoor area that will be available seven days a week at a drop-in cost of $3 per visit or $15 a month for one child and $20 for multiple kids ranging from infants to 12-year-olds. Henley said adolescents 13 and older can use the facility amenities as long as their parents are onsite.

Some center services will be available for any employee who can scan in with their Walmart identification badge. Those services include meditation areas that offer massage chairs, a cryo blast chamber, or a meeting with a dietician. Henley said some of the services do incur charges such as working with a nutrition specialist on diet development.

Henley said Walmart worked with the Heartland Whole Health Institute, founded by Alice Walton in 2019, on wellness aspects of the new center. She said they will continue to work together on future programming and help carry out the objectives among the around 31,000 area Walmart employees who will have access to the facility.

The building spans half of a city block and is located at 1400 SE Fifth St., which runs through the 350-acre campus. Walmart said the design of the facility and others on campus are focused on using natural elements of wood, metal and rock throughout and allowing for as much natural light as possible.

The center stands three stories high and has a small parking garage adjacent to the entrance. The entrance features a three-story rotunda design that has windows up top all the way around.

The Walmart fitness center took about two years to complete and is the second building on the campus to open and the first one open for wide use. The facility has a large free-weight room, boxing studio, treadmills, and a separate room and equipment for ab, or core exercise. There are three pools, two for laps and one for recreation, basketball courts, racquetball courts, and a squash court.

There are two large studios for group boot camp-like classes, an indoor walking or jogging track, indoor and outdoor tennis and pickleball courts and a turfed soccer area. There is a large studio space for dance programming such as ballet or barre workouts.

The center also has two meeting rooms where groups can gather on campus. The Razorback Greenway biking trail runs through the campus and beside the fitness center. There is a respite garden outside the fitness center along the trail that those passing by can use.

A new addition is an instruction kitchen that allows for cooking and nutrition classes and a snack bar that offers healthy foods. Henley said the food sold at the center is managed by Walmart’s Life Works team of chefs who also facilitate food service for the company. She said while the old center did have a coffee bar, the new healthy food options are a step up.

“They are working on to-go and heat and serve dinners for those associates who use the center after work. They could pick up their dinner here and take it home,” Henley said.

She said the old center closed on Dec. 15,  and it logged about 2,500 visits daily and has a membership of 13,000. Henley expects those numbers will grow as more employees see and access the new center’s amenities.

The center employs about 150 workers and also uses the services of contract instructors for adult and children fitness programming, and summer and holiday camps for kids. Henley said the center will offer some introductory fitness and cooking classes to give potential new members an idea of the wide array of services available.

“We are excited to open up the center and give associates a taste of what the whole campus is going to be like, aesthetically. The amenities are great. We listened to what our members wanted and worked hard to bring the whole health aspect to this center,” Henley said.