I had a serendipitous introduction to the fitness industry when I moved my karate school to a new fitness centre in Bondi Junction called Healthland because it was here that I discovered aerobics (and my passion for it) and began taking regular classes.
Not long afterwards, I became an aerobics instructor, even though I found it challenging to keep in time with the music! But the really funny thing was that my karate students, who knew me as a stern disciplinarian who barked instructions at them, were suddenly introduced to an unfamiliar character teaching aerobics with a huge smile on his face.
At just 20 years of age, I was promoted to Aerobics Manager at Healthland. By 21, I co-owned the business with Peter Stevenson, who was nearly twice my age. Those were crazy times as we worked 60–70-hour weeks, doing everything we could to ensure the success of the business.
In 1983, we relocated the club to what is now Westfield Bondi Junction, borrowed money at a massive 18% interest rate and invested every single cent we had in the business. Had it not taken off, I am guessing I would not be writing this newsletter.
As with all businesses (and life), the journey included some serious challenges as well as some incredible highs. And while there’s no such thing as an easy business, I’m very fortunate that my passion for what I do has continued to deepen over the years.
In 1997, after a war with a competitor who set up shop in Bondi Junction to take me out, I moved Healthland to my competitor’s site on Spring Street. By the middle of that year, I had sold Healthland to a corporate health club chain from South Africa. Fitness First now exists at the same site.
Unfortunately, I was to witness the demise of Healthland as the corporate world is driven by the bottom line where passion, care and a high standard of service don’t seem to be priorities.
Not that long ago, I was approached by another corporate health club chain – now one of our competitors – to sell Elixr. I was tempted, but having regretted my decision to sell Healthland, and having witnessed the major change of culture that saw the business losing its soul, I had no desire to do it again.
Now in its 18th year, Elixr has grown into a strong community of members who often tell me how much they love being part of our family and how Elixr has seen them through some very difficult seasons and challenges in their lives.
It became clear to me some time ago that our aim as a business, and as a community, is not simply to provide an environment and services tailored to the wellbeing of our members, but to make a positive difference in the lives of our members and staff physically, mentally and spiritually.
Since my teens, I have been driven to excel and have refused to settle for average, an approach that has compelled me to provide outstanding and authentic service in a warm, caring environment. The success and longevity of Elixr relies on this continued level service and, of course, the wonderful support of our members which means so much to us and which we so greatly appreciate. I must also make special mention of those members who have supported me since my Healthland days in the 80s – from time to time, I hear from members that their mums used to be in my aerobics classes!
Thank you for being part of the Elixr family. And for your amazing support. Here’s to many more years together in pursuit of health and happiness.