Walmart builds health into offices; new headquarters campus to include child care, pools, yoga

Diana J. Smith

BENTONVILLE — Walmart Inc.’s new headquarters campus will give its employees lots of ways to keep fit and their children a safe place to learn and play.

The Bentonville-based retailer presented final plans for the fitness and child care centers at a news conference Monday at its current headquarters. Cindi Marsiglio, Walmart’s senior vice president of corporate real estate, showed a series of computer-generated images of the buildings and described what they’ll have to offer.

The facilities will be on the grounds of the sprawling 322-acre complex. These were the top amenities Walmart employees said they wanted in the new office facilities when the Walmart campus project was announced in 2019.

The Walton Family Whole Health and Fitness Center is expected to open to members in late 2023. At more than 360,000 square feet, the facility will include indoor and outdoor swimming pools; a fitness studio surrounded by an indoor track for running and walking; tennis and pickleball courts; and a cafe.

The building will also have multipurpose rooms for classes; a studio for yoga and Pilates; and rest and recovery rooms. There will also be programming that includes youth and family activities. All the indoor spaces will have views of the outdoors.

Features outside the building will include gathering spaces and a meditation garden.

In the next two weeks, the company will hold demonstration classes for members of the fitness center on the current campus. It will also hold a “meditation expo” with 10-minute classes on meditation and mindfulness.

The child care center just north of the fitness center will actually be two buildings covering a combined 73,000 square feet, Marsiglio said. It will be able to accommodate up to 500 children, and Marsiglio said the company expects it to open in late 2023 at full capacity.

The center can accept children from 6 weeks old through pre-kindergarten. Indoor and outdoor classes and activities will focus on STEAM and movement experiences. Besides the outdoor playgrounds, the two buildings will be connected by a “parents’ plaza,” where parents can eat lunch with their children or just visit them during the day.

Tom Walton and Steuart Walton, grandsons of Walmart founder Sam Walton, spoke at the meeting about their experiences with parenthood and their understanding of the importance of having a safe place for employees to leave their children during the workday.

Foundations for the buildings at the new location in central Bentonville have been poured, Marsiglio said, and construction will start soon.

Dan Bartlett, executive vice president of corporate affairs, said later in a corporate blog post that in support of the construction of both the fitness and childcare centers, the Walton Family Holdings Trust has cancelled Walmart stock owned by the trust worth about $225 million.

The Whole Health Institute, founded by Alice Walton in 2019, was a touchstone for Duda Paine Architects’ design of the Walton Family Whole Health and Fitness Center.

“Whole Health Institute addresses physical, mental, emotional and social factors that affect well-being,” Walt Cooper, chief executive officer of Whole Health Institute said in a blog post Wednesday. “The intentional design of Walton Family Whole Health & Fitness brings that vision to life by creating an environment that goes beyond physical fitness to make holistic health achievable.”

  photo  Alice Walton speaks Wednesday in Bentonville about the Walton Family Whole Health and Fitness center now under construction at the site of Walmart’s new headquarters campus. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
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