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Nike Launches Women’s Fitness “Secret Society”

Just saw this and I thought I’d share . . . no, it’s not about the hottest kicks and when I first saw the headline I thought there was a secret society for girls who collect kicks but alas, that’s not the case. This has more to do with fitness than fashion, but I thought it was interesting. Read the story after the jump.

Info: wwd

Nike Starts Project: Classified Secret Society
Published: Thursday, June 07, 2007
By Whitney Beckett
NEW YORK — Call it Skull & Crossbones for gym rats.

Last year, Nike founded an invitation-only “secret society adopted for the fitness community” — and it’s ready to let the word trickle out about Project: Classified.

About 100 New York women are part of Nike’s “underground private club” and have attended the five top-secret fitness classes held since last April. Nike declined to explain how it chose these “female fitness enthusiasts” or how many women accepted its invitation, saying only, “Our reputation precedes us. To be asked is to want to participate.”

Invitations — which always have some cardboard (a material often used to hide or protect) — are hand-delivered a week prior to each event “in a ‘we’ve been watching’ kind of way,” according to the Portland, Ore., activewear giant.

Responses to questions for this interview were printed on black flash cards held in a cardboard package delivered by a man in a suit; Nike does not want to give a face or voice to the secret society. The first flash card reads: “This information is strictly classified.”

“New York women are passionate about their word-of-mouth services,” according to the cards. “These bold, confident women demand the best of the best, the latest and the greatest, the of-the-moment, must-have object of desire.”

Nike compares Project: Classified with a place on a Birkin bag wait list or reservations at the Waverly Inn before it even opened. “Project: Classified brings that same emotion and standard to their fitness regime, creating an authentic and aesthetic athletic experience that is anything but predictable,” reads a card. “Project: Classified wasn’t created for just a girl in New York, but for a girl who takes on New York.”

There have been five events so far, each with a well-known instructor — from Ary Nunez to Stacey Lei Krauss — in raw spaces, from the Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank (a metaphor for the levels of access and security that conceal something valuable) to the Union Square Ballroom (a subterranean location representing an underground temple) to the Soho House Roof Deck (an exclusive club in its own right). The instructors teach fitness classes ranging from ancient fighting techniques to yoga. The next event is expected to be in July or August. For now, New York is Project: Classified’s only location, and the cards did not reveal if Nike planned to expand the secret meetings to other cities.

“Project: Classified seeks out the experts in their fields, the most sought-after instructors across the country,” according to Nike. “Project: Classified swarms in, permeates a space and then leaves. The venues are unexpected, readapted, overtaken.”

The swarming image is reinforced by Project: Classified’s cicada logo, which is featured on the invitations and at each event. “Heard but rarely seen,” cicadas symbolize “rebirth and renewal, casting off the old and transcending into something new” — what Nike hopes its fitness challenge will enable its chosen members to do.

Answering what Nike hopes to get from this, the cards only said, “Project: Classified is about them, not us.”

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