Located just two miles from M-A, the Riekes Center for Human Enhancement has been opening its doors to people from all walks of life since 1996.
The Riekes Center provides unique opportunities for students to grow as individuals through three main departments: Creative Arts, Athletic Fitness, and Nature Awareness. The center provides financial aid for their programs—ranging from these main departments to summer camps and afterschool and homeschool programs—through scholarships and work-trade opportunities as a part of their Community Service program.
Staff and instructors work with students to accomplish their goals, emphasizing three core values: Sensitivity to Others, Self-Supervision, and Honest Communication.
The halls of the center lead participants to fitness areas, filmmaking and editing stations, an indoor track, and several music rooms. Right outside the indoor track sits the center’s garden, pizza oven, and campfire. With the exception of telltale red doors on music “jam rooms,” indoor spaces are rarely secluded from each other—anyone is free to use any part of the facility.
Staff and participants regularly sport the center’s staple “Got Goals?” T-shirts, which is a way of conveying their belief that any individual who walks into the center can accomplish their goals.
Instruction at the Riekes Center is unique because of the center’s dedication to each individual. Sophomore Rose Klingsporn, who has used the center’s athletic and music facilities, said, “I enjoy that the instruction there is really personalized—you can say, ‘These are my goals; I want to do this and that,’ and they’ll draft up a way for you to do that.”
Such personalized training and support also allows participants to explore areas beyond the initial goals they set for themselves. Associate Executive Director Jeremy Hartje said, “Some people come in here and they have one goal, and all of a sudden they get exposed to other things. So it’s like interest turns into passion.”
The center also values community and one-of-a-kind opportunities for participants, including music performances. Junior Logan Greenbaum, who uses the center for music, said, “They’ve offered a lot of opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise experienced, like playing music in Spain or at the Guild.”
On his favorite memory of the center, Greenbaum said, “When I played at their creative arts recital for the first time, it was my first time ever performing music. Everyone there was so nice to us; it was definitely a really great first performance.”
The center’s facilities reflect its goals of individual enhancement. Klingsporn said, “I really like that they have a variety of facilities and they’re all high quality. It isn’t ‘a gym that has a music program’ or ‘a music facility that has a gym.’ It’s ‘a place with a gym and a music program,’ and I really like that.”
Furthermore, the Riekes Center values “real-world diversity,” serving participants with a wide range of goals, interests, and identities.
Hartje said, “The diversity of opportunities is one thing—usually everything else is more homogenous in that they offer just fitness or they offer jazz music, but we have a mixture of all those under one roof.” At the Riekes Center, he added, “You have all these different people from different backgrounds, from different walks of life.”
Greenbaum added, “I like the sense of community there, how you can walk in and know a bunch of people. Everyone will treat you like a friend there.”
Founder Gary Riekes, who passed in 2021, was a former Stanford football player and musician who created the Riekes Center in 1996 in response to his own experiences with training and injuries.
Following a severe back injury from football his sophomore year of college, Riekes became a private strength coach in 1972. He also furthered his passion for music in 1974 by partnering with Carla Piper in the Soundpiper Music Company.
He continued both his athletic fitness program and music company from the comfort of his house at 1700 Fernside Street. It was there that he developed the core values that the Riekes Center still upholds today.
At the center’s current location, Riekes’ old red front door and entryway lead into the facilities. Throughout the building, photos line the walls, establishing the center as a welcoming home. According to the center’s website, “Gary installed this door from the Fernside house to remind everyone that they are entering a place they call home, a place of welcoming and joy.”
Hartje, who started the nature department and has been working at the center since 1999, said, “The renewed understanding around the importance of nature connection really came out with COVID, where people saw that nature is really important and that being outside is healthy. So our nature programs blossomed because of COVID.”
Hartje said, “I want my kids to do fitness or nature programs. I follow the principles that we set out to do and the responsibilities that we have here.”
He added, “It’s my life. I can’t imagine not being a part of the Riekes Center.”
So, “Got Goals?” Take a tour of the Riekes Center at 3455 Edison Way in Menlo Park if you’re interested in their programs!