How we shape a culture of fitness at the Reebok headquarter
Employees working out alongside one another in fitness classes; Managers that urge their employees to work out almost any time of day, allowing a midday gym trip to boost creative thinking; a space that is filled with physical, mental and social energy… our fitness culture at Reebok is clearly visible each time you visit our campus. The fitness center is the nucleus of our headquarters and became a symbol and facilitator for Reebok’s unique fitness culture. How? Let me take you on a journey that started almost 25 years ago.
As the Manager of the Health and Wellness Center at Reebok’s headquarters, I’ve seen growth not only in the company itself but in the way employees think and act on a day-to-day basis, thanks to our amazing new facility. Thinking back to the start of my own journey with the brand, I initially worked at the previous Reebok World Headquarters, which was based down the road in Stoughton, MA in a six-floor building.
The fitness center at our previous location opened with much anticipation during Thanksgiving week of 1990. With everything from decorative architecture and fixtures to top-notch fitness equipment (including 13 cardio machines, 14 stationed weight machines, a studio space, and free-weights), in its day the old fitness center was impressive and had a “WOW” factor. Class options were mainly Reebok Step and Muscle Conditioning; the locker rooms were about a quarter of the size they are at our new location, and outdoor activities consisted of two tennis courts and a basketball court, where employees would go head-to-head daily in passionate games. The facility fit our needs perfectly for a short period of time, until the brand’s repertoire grew and our employees found more fitness-related interests.
In the late nineties, Reebok starting planning for its new headquarters because the old headquarters was spread out in 4 other buildings across multiple towns. The fitness center team, including myself, was asked to coordinate the efforts for the design of the new fitness center using what we’d learned over the last few years as the old center slowly expanded. There was a lot to consider when accommodating both Reebok’s changing business needs and employees’ growing fitness demands.
We took input from hundreds of employees to gauge what was important, and we listened to our business needs from teams across the company, including our Equipment Division, Reebok University, and our different sports categories. Bob Rich, who helped design the Harvard Business School Fitness Center, gave us feedback on layout and equipment. Don Hasselbeck, former NFL player, and Mike Lalor, former NHL player, gave us their feedback from a professional athlete standpoint.
The new fitness center was meant to express and reflect who we were as a brand, focusing on fitness and, at the time, sport. We decided on a bigger fitness space over more racquet sport courts, and what we ended up with was extremely impressive; the fitness center is the nucleus of the building. As you enter our facility, you immediately see the wide open space of the fitness center, making it apparent who we are as a company and to show that we are serious about fitness. Since its opening 15 years ago, our current fitness center has been filled with energy and activity and certainly keeps our employees physically and mentally fit. During those first few years, lunch time was a spectacle of activity between the fitness classes, employees out running and walking, and fitness classes which invited all levels of employees to work out.
When Reebok CrossFit ONE, our employee CrossFit Box, opened more than 4 years ago, that boosted the fitness culture more than anything we had ever seen at Reebok. Most employees wanted to give it a try and once they did, a lot of them were hooked. There were employees that had tried working out before, but could never really “get into it.” Now all they had to do was show up at the box, do the WOD and come back. Though that sounds easy, it isn’t… but members love the group aspect of it, the comradery, the support, the functional movement, and the variety.
Over time, the opening of our new facilities brought on a shift in Reebok’s corporate culture. Managers now urge their employees to work out almost any time of day, allowing a midday gym trip to boost creative thinking. Though over time different fitness and sports trends have dominated the space (recreational activities were huge for employees when we first opened the center), Reebok has evolved into a personal fitness brand and is shaped firsthand by its active employees. This fitness culture is clearly visible each time you visit our campus and see employees working out alongside one another in fitness classes, on the outdoor track, in our cardio spaces, or in our CrossFit box. I can only imagine where the future of the Reebok brand will take our wonderful fitness center in the future!