Friday, September 16, 2011

Whole Foods Oakland Launching Wellness Club. Bring Your Credit Card

By John Birdsall
Fri, Sep 16, 2011 at 9:00 AM

Since opening in 2007, Whole Foods’ Oakland store has done a bit of struggling to find itself. Remember the burger bar? Offerings of Everett & Jones barbecue and Gelateria Naia ices?

On Monday (September 19), the Oakland store opens a whole new chapter of finding itself, with the launch of the Whole Foods Market Wellness Club. It’ll be one of only three in the megasprawling chain, and the first on the West Coast, a sort of Jenny Craig support group meets ongoing supper club meets the guy at your gym who you can ask about nutrition. From the official press release: “The Wellness Club program offers a variety of educational classes in a supportive setting to help individuals make more informed decisions about living a healthier lifestyle.”

Classes are free the first week. After that...

The former coffee bar at the front of the store has been remade into Wellness Club HQ (there’s still a coffee bar, but it’s moved — somewhere). As for Monday’s launch, it’s scheduled to be, well, bready. Again, from the press release: “Wellness Club leadership will host a bread-breaking ceremony at 10 a.m., which will involve cutting a healthy, sprouted grain baguette.”

If you show up for a slice Monday, something tells me you shouldn’t ask for the butter.

Club membership will cost about as much as your gym: a $195 “processing fee” up front, and $45 a month. You’ll get a lifestyle and diet evaluation (“Can I show you something in the Wellness aisle that I think your body needs?”), so-called skill-building classes (cooking, store tours, and something called “Lunch Crunch”), coaching and tips, fitness and yoga classes, discounts on future Wellness Supper Clubs, a ten percent discount on “healthier” food choices in the Oakland store, plus discounts at allied businesses (not sure what those are).

Skill-building classes are free next week, so you can check them out before committing. Up to you whether or not you show up wearing a unitard and leg warmers — oh, and toting your Whole Foods shopping bag, of course.

Get in touch at, and follow me on Twitter @John_Birdsall.

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