The ghost of unhealthy lifestyles has continued to disrupt many people’s plans with some losing their jobs as a result of spending more time in hospitals than at work. This inspired Japheth Amimo three years ago to set up Pro-wellness Solutions, a business that is now targeting not only corporates but also individuals.
It takes more than a keen eye to notice that some workers are unable to deliver because of lack of fitness. Think of the typical work station set-up of top executives, for example – following up clients at the comfort of the office, working hard attending round table meetings that take hours on end, sending emails, making phone calls…. At the end of the day you are exhausted. Mr Amimo says there would be no such thing as back pains and exhaustion at work places if we grabbed the opportunity to take treatments offered by wellness centres.
Mr Amimo has been focused on fitness with 20 years of experience in the industry, having served as health club manager at Serena Hotels and recently with the United Nations recreation centre. His plans to start a business became a reality in 2011 when he poured Sh3 million from his personal savings into the venture.
“We’ve done a lot,” he points out. “I thought I would give it a shot when I still have the energy. I had kind of done my bit on employment and itching to try my hands on entrepreneurship before I reach 50,” he says.
The fitness guru stresses that in addition to the advantages of treatments, which include ergonomic assessments where employees are trained on how to eliminate risks and maintain a safe work environment, nutrition plans, blood pressure screenings, exercise and fitness, injury prevention, on-site massage and back care, having a wellness programme for the organisation is the biggest cost-saving, actually investment one can make. He says the current returns are as high as 1:6, meaning for every Sh1,000 invested in a wellness programme you get a return of Sh6,000. He is, however, cognisant of the fact that the ratio will go down if people with lifestyle diseases can be removed from the red and moved to safer zones so that they can be at work rather than stay in hospitals.
Apart from the World Bank and Swedish Embassy, some of his corporate clients include AON insurance, Gertrude Hospital, Equity Bank, Kenya Revenue Authority, TNS and Case Medical Centre in Kampala, Uganda.
Wellness Solutions emerges as a better partner to fill gaps in offering fitness services. What’s more unique to it is that, in a partnership enabled by Friends of Karura, it set up an open gym at the Sigiria Block, just off Thigiri ridge (towards Gigiri). It is an open area that can be fun especially for nature lovers. Unlike the Loresho Crescent one, the Boot Camp at Karura forest aims at giving people a break from indoor gym workouts. It is for those who embrace team-work and targets agility, cardio and strength training.
“What people need is fitness. We are coming up and the concept is totally new. It is within the forest in Gigiri…. And that looks like it will do well. For corporates, we charge Sh10,000 per session for a minimum of 10 people. It becomes cheaper when participants are many,” he says.
At this age where there is an increasing need for healthy lifestyle, fitness is of critical consideration. The challenges companies face as a result of lack of fitness from employees can be dealt with. When done well, complications like back pains will be a thing of the past. They (Pro-wellness Solutions) came up with Corporate Wellness Programme where employees can enjoy massage services at their work place. This is a welcome relief for workers who experience the effects of occupational stress in addition to maintaining static postures while seated for long periods of time. “We go to organisations, mostly corporates. We charge Sh600 per person but we need a minimum of 10 people. It’s a 10 to 15 minutes massage … to make the blood flow,” he says.
But at a time when most wellness centres particularly spas are run by women, you might wonder whether it is a smooth ride. Mr Amimo says it had its ups and downs. When it first opened its first brunch, business picked up but things slowed down during the 2013 elections.
“In Kenya it is not mandatory to have a wellness programme. But overall there’s a lot of potential for it. In the next five years we will be in the forefront of wellness programmes in the country,” says Mr Amimo. He tends to focus more on services than on who does the therapy. “Women have a softer spot but our masseuses are equally good,” he says.