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Inside the San Francisco women's wellness club where members pay $2,700 a year to work, socialize, and get Reiki healings in a century-old church

Published by Business Insider on Thu, 16 Jan 2020


The Assembly, which describes itself as a wellness club, operates out of a century-old church in San Francisco's Mission District.It was founded two years ago and has 630 members, all of whom pay the required $250 monthly membership fee.Members have access to workspace, unlimited fitness classes, and so-called wellness sessions, like Reiki Healings, cupping treatments, and tarot-card readings.The club is a part of a trend that's changing how we balance our professional lives and our wellbeing.Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.There's a full schedule of events at The Assembly co-working space and "wellness club" in San Francisco.On Monday, there's a Soul Activation Channeling Presence, a Reiki Energy Healing is scheduled for Wednesday at 1 pm, and a Chakra Therapy with Crystals session is penciled in for Friday morning.When its mostly female members aren't grabbing a $3 kombucha at the in-house beverage bar or gazing into their laptops working on their various entrepreneurial and creative endeavors, they can also book a cupping session, use the club's outdoor showers, get tarot readings, group acupuncture, and manicures, or book clean beauty consultations to help guide their eco-conscious beauty-product decision-making.The Assembly has 630 members that utilize its facilities housed in what was originally a church in San Francisco's gentrified Mission neighborhood. Part of the collective's mission' To make "people feel good with exceptional workouts, wellness, food, community, and connection."The Assembly is part of a trend that's seeing the $3.7 trillion wellness industry transform how we integrate wellness and community into the workplace. An emphasis on employee wellness has seeped into corporate culture, with companies increasingly offering services to their workers aimed at benefiting their physical, mental, and emotional health. And that focus has permeated the co-working space as well, an industry that has sprung up in its own right in response to a rise in remote workers.There's a slew of these self-described wellness clubs in New Yorkand in Los Angeles. Embattled co-working giant WeWork jumped into the wellness sphere in 2017 with its launch of Rise By We, which was the company's vision for a"complete wellness experience." And similar to The Assembly is The Wing, another women-focused social club founded in 2016 with locations in cities like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco and 10,000 members to date.Wellness treatments in some of these communities often feature historically Eastern healing practiceslike the aforementioned Reiki healing or Chakra therapyan overarching trend in the wellness wave of the last decade popularized in part by Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop brand.There's a reason why the wellness business is so lucrative. As Vice reports, "it's hard to argue with 'listen to your body'" when a product or service is marketed as being able to simply make you feel good.Combine that with a need for a place to go to work, and it turns out people are willing to pay the asking price for such wellness and community. Membership fees at The Assembly are $250 a month, plus a one-time $250 initiation fee. If you pay for the first year up front, that initiation fee is waived and you get 10% off, which comes to $2,700 annually.Co-founded by Molly Goodson, an online media guru-turned-entrepreneur, the wellness club opened its doors in 2018 and now has 630 members and is still accepting applications, so there's clearly a market in San Francisco that's willing to shell out the monthly fee for such an experience.Other private clubs in the Bay Area are priced similarly, but they're a bit less expensive. The Wing has a location in the city's Financial District, with its membership fees starting at $185 a month.Other clubs in San Franciscowith not as much of a focus on wellness specificallyinclude the prestigious invite-only Battery club (about $200 a month,) The Academy in the city's Castro District (starting at $99 a month,) The Bohemian Club, and the century-old private women's club The Metropolitan. And then there's The Olympic Club, the oldest athletic club in the United States.We visited The Assembly on a January afternoon, on what coincidentally was the day of the collective's two-year anniversary. Here's what it's like inside the church-turned-wellness social club.SEE ALSO:Looking for $600 cardigans or $220 bee venom-infused face serum' Head to this San Francisco street, where expensive everyday items are the norm.The Assembly is a women-centric wellness club in San Francisco's Mission District.It operates out of what was originally a church built in 1905.It's surrounded by all sides with residences. You could feasibly pass it on the sidewalk without noticing it if you weren't paying attention, especially with the lack of signage indicating it's a club.But there is a subtle floor tile at the entrance threshold scrawled with the club's name. Members and guests enter here via a Ring doorbell.This is what you see when you first walk in, though the main club area doesn't sit beyond this first pair of doors.You walk up a flight of stairs to the second story church sanctuary, which was where services were held back in the day.The only remaining stained glass windows from the original church are the panels in the entrance to the main area of the club.This is the main co-working area, where members work, chat, drink, and create.Members sign in via tablets along the beverage bar near the entrance.It sells kombucha, tea, and coffee at relatively low prices.Newly-installed stained glass windows in white, yellow, and blue hues line the room.The current landlord bought it in 2011 with the belief that a tech startup would eventually fill the place, Goodson told Business Insider. But renovation began in 2017 to turn it into The Assembly.The monthly membership for the Assembly is $250, which comes out to about $2,700 a year with a 1-year commitment required.Source: The AssemblyGoodson told Business Insider that the club's occupants are entrepreneurs and creatives.The majority of people have regular 9-to-5's and use the club on nights and weekends, Goodson said.She said there are some that use it as their home base, but typically members spend on average four hours of their day in the space.And during that time, they'll work and then cap off their time there with a fitness class, or vice versa.Members have access to private booths, a pump room for mothers, and a private conference room.The venture capital firm Lightspeed Venture Partners has the conference room booked on Fridays. Products from the firm's portfolio companies, like Goop and Rothy's, sit in the corner.Members also get exclusive discount prices for wellness services on-site and all-day access to self-serviced wellbeing treatments in the Assembly's "Feel Good" room.Inside are reclining lawn chairs, massagers, compression boots, and LED facial masks.Members get mostly unlimited fitness classes, like sessions called "thick" for toning your butt, legs, and abs and "The Release," a myofascial exercise that focuses on reducing pain by targeting trigger points in the body. Some events are open to the public.Source: The AssemblyThey work out in the first-story space. This was used for Sunday School when it was still a church. Now, yoga mats, weights, and purple lighting fill the space.Adjacent to the studio is a kitchen and bar, with a fridge stocked with salads and other meals that members can purchase via a scanner to the side using the honor system.On the fridge is a "feel-good board" where members can grade themselves on the wellness classes, lectures, and fitness sessions they've attended.Next to the kitchen is the locker room and outdoor showers.There are two, with skylights, plants, and new age atmospheric music enveloping the space.The designers behind the Assembly aesthetic are a couple known for the Instagram-famous Joshua Tree House ' the same minimal, slightly desert feel is evident in the club.Throughout the entire space is also design work by local artists.It's similar to the hipster-chic interior that you'll find in boutiques and coffee shops up and down the main drag of the Mission neighborhood, a historically-Latinx district that's given way to new apartment buildings and high-earning tech workers within the past decade or so.The church has long been a staple of the neighborhood, but now The Assembly and its members are as well. The community is celebrating its two-year anniversary this month.
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