Yesterday, I was at the Whole Foods store in Tribeca (Lower Manhattan in NYC) and got a preview of a new concept that the company is piloting at five locations across the country – Wellness Clubs.
Whole Foods embarks on many different programs, most of which I am impressed with, but these Wellness Clubs may be its best one yet.
John Mackey, the Co-CEO and Founder of Whole Foods, has taken the unusual, bold and admirable step to use his corporation as a tool to improve the health of American citizens. He has declared that a plant-based diet is the way that people will become healthier, and Whole Foods has developed initiatives around this (his) philosophy.
Examples include the Health Starts Here program, which encourages people to start eating a plant-based diet and ranks certain foods based on a nutrient-density index (ANDI scores), and the endorsement/promotion of the Forks over Knives documentary, Engine 2 Diet and The China Study.
While the Health Starts Here program does have a limited number of specialists that can work one-on-one with customers, it is just not enough. And that is one of the reasons that the Wellness Clubs concept will be very successful.
Whole Foods is putting its financial and operating resources behind the Wellness Clubs, so that consumers can get the adequate attention, support and education they need to make meaningful and long-lasting improvements to their health.
For a $45 monthly membership, people will have access to:
Unlimited Classes These include cooking, nutritional, and practical technique classes that support a healthier lifestyle.
Cooking Demos and Community Events Unlimited access to cooking demos and events with published authors and inspirational speakers.
Supper Club Dinners and Brunches These are healthy, community-meals prepared by a Whole Foods chef. You just show up and eat. Members pay a discounted rate.
10% Discount This 10% discount will be offered on over 5,000 products in the store (not in any store nationwide, just the store where the Wellness Club is located.).
Lifestyle evaluations and personal coaching are both available, and non-members can attend classes on an a la carte basis.
Furthermore, a partnership program is in place where many local vendors are offering incentives for people to become members of the Whole Foods Wellness Clubs.
These are very respected brands in the New York City and national health scene including Equinox Gyms, REI, One Lucky Duck/Pure Food & Wine, Bikram Yoga NYC, Exhale Spa and many others.
This pilot program is going to be very successful for a variety of reasons.
Significant Resources Behind It As I mentioned above, Whole Foods appears to be incredibly committed to this program.
The Wellness Club is fully-staffed, has its own kitchen and designated area within the store, and will be able to provide very personal attention to customers.
Excellent Value If you are a regular shopper at Whole Foods and spend a little more than $100 per week on groceries, the 10% discount on the grocery items would make this program an absolute no-brainer. Plus, you would get the classes and all of the other benefits essentially for free.
Creating Community People who eat healthy and organic want to meet other people who eat the same way. The Supper Club will provide community, something that most of us are constantly seeking.
Tremendous Need for Easily Accessible Information and Support Many individuals cannot afford or don’t have easy-access to nutrition/cooking classes. This will help solve a big problem for a lot people.
Led by Medical Professionals From a medical perspective, the program is being led by two doctors, Matthew Lederman, MD and Alona Pulde, MD, both of whom were featured in the movie Forks over Knives.
This is important because it gives the Wellness Clubs added credibility.
As I tell people all of the time, there is no real mystery to improving your health. It all comes down to what you eat, but not everyone is getting the message.
Whole Foods is doing its part to reverse that, and I applaud them for this new initiative. The Wellness Club concept is a winner.