What Is The Assembly? A Judgment-Free Wellness Wonderland

Co-founder Molly Goodson lays out her vision.

Margaret Austin Photography
Molly Goodson wanted to create a space for women to be “healthy” physically and mentally. Come Plum Photography

What is The Assembly? San Francisco’s first women’s club focused on wellness.

But actually, it’s hard to define it in just a few words. “It’s so many things to so many different people,” explains CEO and co-founder Molly Goodson, adding: “It’s also a feeling.”

The Assembly opened its doors in January 2018, taking over a historic former church located at 449 14th Street. In less than a year, The Assembly has become an exciting community of women looking to expand their comfort zones physically and socially. Spending time there, you get the feeling this group of women was waiting patiently for a space to appear and bring them all together.

More than a Gym, More than Work Space

For about the same price as a week of SoulCylce, members of The Assembly can take fitness classes and get work done in casual co-working spaces. Members also have access to a diverse set of programming options that range from a workshop on better sleep habits to a panel on the burgeoning marijuana wellness industry. During a photography class, I heard one enthusiastic member declare: “this feels like camp!” Every Tuesday there is free drop-in acupuncture, and the domestic violence non-profit La Casa de Las Madres holds regular activist events at the club. Molly’s driving hope: that members can pursue whatever “healthy” is to them. Be it a productive work day, a chance to sweat in a workout class, or an opportunity to make meaningful connections with other women.

Instructors at The Assembly give personal attention during classes. Margaret Austin Photography

When dreaming up The Assembly, Molly wanted to take the workout studio experience and make it better. “I would go to classes with friends and I noticed you can’t even have a conversation with them after because there’s nowhere to go,” she tells me. “You’re shuffled in and out. You’re cold. You’re sweaty. And you think, that was my 45 minutes to see my friend this week, and we didn’t even have a conversation.”

Creating a space where people could convene before or after working out was just the beginning of Molly’s vision. Once she decided to create a club around fitness, Molly wanted to avoid some of the negative body-image messages that come with working out. She asked herself: “Can we make this experience in a way that is not intimidating?” It may be a members club, but Molly and her team want it to be inclusive, “I don’t want people to ever feel like they have to look at certain way, or wear a certain thing.”

So much of the world is: you’re not eating or drinking enough of this, or you’re putting too much of this in your body. It’s a constant whiplash.

Molly strived to give women a safe space to try new wellness experiences without judgement. “From your reiki to your acupuncture and cupping — it’s intimidating to go out and find out how to do any of that,” Molly explains. “You always walk in and feel like you’re doing something wrong.” At The Assembly, you’re never doing anything wrong. They’ll help you figure it out. “For women, so much of the world is: you’re not eating or drinking enough of this, or you’re putting too much of this in your body. It’s a constant whiplash of what is wrong and right. Then you see men just gliding through the world not thinking about any of those things,” Molly says. Thanks to The Assembly, wellness-minded women can learn and explore, without any guilt or pressure.

Making Connections, IRL

Of course, wellness is more than a workout. With that in mind, The Assembly hopes to improve women’s mental health, too. The team fosters a welcoming and warm “feeling,” as Molly mentioned. Often, members come to the space hoping to find someone to talk to. “Sometimes you just want someone to listen to you when you’re going through a break up or are feeling sick or have a bad day or get a promotion or are thinking of leaving your job,” Molly says. “These are the people you can talk to about that.”

Sometimes you just want someone to listen to you when you have a bad day or get a promotion.

Sadly, the dream of a coffee shop like the one in Friends does not exist. And Molly acknowledges that even with good friends, it’s hard to pick up the phone and say, “Hey, I’m calling you out of the blue because I have something I need to talk about.” People don’t really do that, so you end up working through it alone. “We wanted to build a place you could come to to have those conversations,” Molly says.

The Assembly team is always available to chat with members. Ashley Batz Photography

While many members make professional connections and even collaborate, The Assembly isn’t about superficial networking, either. “A lot of what we’ve designed has stemmed from my anxiety about being asked what I do,” Molly divulges. She admits she never had a job that was easy to describe and found the reductionist question stressful. “It got to a point where I would walk away from conversations when I knew that was coming,” she admits. “Or, I would just describe what my husband does for a living.” When designing the membership application, the team decided not to included a question about “what do you do.” It might seem like a simple choice, but that outlook means members can be more than their day jobs. The Assembly is about nurturing the entire person.

The Tangibles

So much of what The Assembly offers is intangible, but there are also concrete benefits to joining. For a membership of $250 each month or $2,700 per year, members get the following (and more):

  • Access to the light-filled space, where you can get some work done, socialize, or just relax.
  • Unlimited monthly fitness class credits (fee may still apply for specialty classes).
  • Daily fitness classes customized for The Assembly and taught by premiere Bay Area instructors.
  • Bookable collaboration room for large meetings, photoshoots, services, etc.
  • One monthly day pass to gift to a guest and discounted day passes thereafter.
  • Priority access for all programming and weekly events.
  • Access to Lady Falcon coffee, cold brew and kombucha on tap, plus a seasonal menu of local/healthy meal options and snacks.
  • Access to the best backyard in The Mission (don’t worry @karlthefog, we have heat lamps).
  • Katie Gong designed outdoor shower complete with soft towels and eco-conscious products.
  • Fully stocked arts and crafts table to unleash your creative juices.
  • Pump room with refrigeration for nursing mamas.
  • Phone room for private calls.
  • Fast WiFi, comfortable seats, and hugs (only when requested).
  • A curated shop stocked with a rotation of top shelf beauty products, home decor from local artists, Assembly branded merch, and more (members get 20 percent off all items).
  • Discounts from a list of curated partners, including fashion, food, wellness, and beauty brands.
  • Access to weekly in-house services, like acupuncture, manicures, cupping, and brow shaping.
  • First access to all special events, visiting instructor classes and weekend retreats.
  • Weekly and monthly networking events, like wine tasting, family meal, cocktail hour, and movie night.
  • The ability to build an intentional community with other female-identifying entrepreneurs, parents, athletes, artists, freelancers, coaches, etc. in your city.

The Space

The Assembly chose local artists and makers to create a common dream home. Molly and her co-founder, Carnet Williams, called on wife and husband design duo Sara and Rich Combs to bring the 7,000 square foot space to life. It features work by artists including Katie GongMeryl PatakyJen Mussari, and Heather Day. Let’s take a tour.

 

A view into the fitness studio from 14th street. Margaret Austin Photography
Once you’re inside, you can walk up beautiful stairs to the clubhouse. Margaret Austin Photography
Welcome to the light-filled clubhouse. Margaret Austin Photography
The space has a custom bar from Oakland woodworker Katie Gong. Margaret Austin Photography
Members often work at the wooden tables in the clubhouse. Margaret Austin Photography
The space also includes comfy sitting areas to enjoy a coffee or read. Margaret Austin Photography
Events, like a Weed and Wellness panel, are held in the clubhouse. Grace Wilcox Photography
Workshops are held in the Collab Room, off the main clubhouse. Margaret Austin Photography
There is also a phone booth and room for nursing mothers to pump. Margaret Austin Photography
Head down the stairs to the fitness studio, kitchen, and backyard. Margaret Austin Photography
Family meals are held in the kitchen. Margaret Austin Photography
You can grab healthy packaged food from the fridge in the fridge. Margaret Austin Photography
The backyard is located off the kitchen downstairs. Margaret Austin Photography
Members can work, socialize, eat, or enjoy a sunny break outside. Ashley Batz Photography
The studio is bright, airy, and free of mirrors. Margaret Austin Photography
After your class, you can freshen up. Margaret Austin Photography
There is also an outdoor shower. Grace Wilcox Photography
A view of The Assembly from 14th street. Would you believe all this is hiding in this former church? Margaret Austin Photography

Want to know more about joining The Assembly? You can apply here.

logo logo
The Assembly arrow
The Assembly
arrow