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Workplace Wellness Ireland: Review of Our First Meet Up

Posted By Brian Crooke, Thursday, October 11, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Dublin, IrelandOn Tuesday September 4th we held the inaugural meet up of the Workplace Wellness Ireland community at the Bank of Ireland in Grand Canal Square in Dublin. I was blown away by the attendance and by the positive feedback following the event. The atmosphere and energy in the room was something I had hoped for so it was extremely pleasing to see my expectations not only met but exceeded on the night. Thanks to everyone that came along and contributed to the positivity.

Introduction

Brian CrookeI kicked things off by discussing the buzz surrounding workplace wellness in Ireland. My aim with the Workplace Wellness Ireland group is to ensure that we are not looking back in 10 years time and remembering wellness as a ‘fad’ in Irish workplaces. What a missed opportunity that would be? By bringing people together to share experiences and lessons learned I believe we can improve all of our services, we can demonstrate real value for Irish businesses and for the people in those businesses and eliminate any future talk of a workplace wellness fad.

I also mentioned the fact that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to workplace wellness. The bad news is, it’s not an exact science. The good news is that there are simple strategies that can be followed to significantly increase the chances that wellness initiatives will be successful. This is the type of information I want to promote and share at our meetups and in the online community.

Values

I then introduced the values I’ve created to the community. I would love if we can adopt these at our future events and in any online interactions. The Workplace Wellness Ireland values are:

  1. Share without expecting anything in return
  2. Have fun and respect everyone
  3. Make friends, not contacts *
    *Thank you to Startup Grind for inspiring me on the third value ;)

Jim KirwanJim Kirwan:

‘Workplace Wellbeing Lessons Learned’

The first speaker on the evening was best selling author, international speaker, and health and wellbeing coach Jim Kirwan. Jim started his talk linking saying goodbye to his daughter at Dublin airport, last Christmas, to the value of time and the importance of our health and wellbeing. He then explained why what he does is so important to him by telling us his dad's story; he died very suddenly at 47 of a massive heart attack when Jim was only 20. He described this as 43 lost years and said he does not want this to happen to you.

Jim then introduced us to the 6 Key Ingredients of Effective Strategic Wellbeing which he refers to as FIT-CEO.

FIT-CEO

F - First: CEO and all executives and managers have to walk the talk.

I - Involve: Increase employee involvement and engagement will follow.

T - Transform: Wellbeing is a great opportunity to transform your organisation with BHAG's (Big Hairy Audacious Goals).

C - Culture: Wellbeing is at the top of your organisation values.

E - Excellent: There is no other way!

O - Outcome: Clear vision of results you want to achieve in short, medium and long term.

Lessons Learned

Jim also introduced his top four lessons based on his experience of working with Irish companies.

Lesson 1

In Company A only 25 people out of 150 employees showed up for his wellness week talk; everyone else was too busy. Company B (which was of a similar size to Company A) had to hold two separate sessions to accommodate the numbers that wanted to see and hear the talk.

 

What was the difference? The CEO, executives, and managers from Company B promoted and attended his talk(s)!

Lesson 2

Your wellbeing initiatives should focus on the majority of employees, not a minority.

Lesson 3

Most one-off wellbeing talks are not effective; think PROJECTS with a beginning, middle, and end which can measure results and change behaviour over time.

Lesson 4

Your wellbeing initiatives should be fun, enjoyable and sustainable. Sustainable means that employees can make changes that last!

Left to right: Robert Carley, Jim Kirwan, Brian Crooke, and Caroline McGuigan

Left to right: Robert Carley, Jim Kirwan, Brian Crooke, and Caroline McGuigan

Caroline McGuigan and Robert Carley: ‘Mental Health But Not As You Know It’ After a short break for some tea and chatting Caroline McGuigan and Robert Carley of Suicide or Survive (SOS) took centre stage. SOS works with individuals and businesses to educate, inform and inspire people to cultivate good mental health and reduce stigma.I’m fortunate enough in that this is not the first time I’ve heard Caroline and Robert speak and they never fail to inspire me and make me laugh.

A key message from their talk was that we all have mental health. Forget about the traditional statistics. Everyone has mental health issues at certain times according to Caroline and Robert.

Caroline discussed her own inspiring story and the obstacles she has overcome and continues to overcome. She introduced herself as a mum first and foremost. She also happens to be a psychotherapist, mental health advocate and the founder and CEO of Suicide or Survive.

Highs and Lows

We all have highs and lows. Robert gave a heartfelt example from his own life. This week in September is an emotional one for Robert and his family as they remember the sudden passing of his wife seven years ago. This September he also learned that he’s going to be a granddad again.

We can all relate to certain highs and lows in our own lives. Even from day to day and week to week there will be highs and lows that impact us. Caroline and Robert are on a mission to highlight the need to start conversations on mental health in Irish companies, to reduce the stigma and create work environments that are supportive of speaking up if you happen to be going through one of those lows.

Dublin, Ireland

Interaction

It really was an inspiring and engaging talk and no exaggeration to say that those present were close to tears one minute then roaring with laughter the next. The audience played their part too, as we were first encouraged to turn to the person beside us to tell them they had mental health issues, then stretching our hands in the air as high as we could (and then a little higher….and a little higher….) to squeezing a fist together as tightly as we could then slowly releasing it and letting all the tension escape.

From Now On…

I didn’t expect Hugh Jackman to feature at our inaugural meet up, however Caroline and Robert had everyone standing together at the end of their talk to join in on the chorus of a song from The Greatest Showman movie: From Now On...From Now On.

Like you care about your dental health, care about your mental health — we all have it!

Dublin, IrelandOur People

The meet up was just as much about meeting new people as it was about hearing from the wonderful speakers. There was a great energy in the room before we kicked off on Tuesday and this was repeated during a short interval between speakers and again as we wrapped up for the evening with lots of people staying back to chat and ask questions.

Most people I’ve spoken with since have mentioned the really interesting people they met at the event, which is yet another expectation of mine which was exceeded on the night.

The energy and atmosphere was supported by our brilliant food exhibitors: Fiona’s Food For Life, Skinny Malinkys Juices and The Fruit People who kept everyone fuelled on the night.

One of the values I introduced was ‘Make Friends, Not Contacts’ and this certainly seems to have been the case on Tuesday.

Future Events

As I discussed on the evening, I want the group to tackle different areas and perspectives in workplace wellness. There’s a great mix of organisations and industry sectors represented in the community, and also companies of different sizes. Some are at different stages of the wellness journey, with some businesses quite experienced in this area and some only starting out.

At future meetups I want to hear from these differing perspectives. While there will be differences from company to company, there will also be similarities that we can all learn from. I’d also love to hear from you the community as to what topics you would like to see addressed in the future. Drop me a line and let me know.

Our next meet up is scheduled for November 13th, again at the Bank of Ireland at Grand Canal Square and again from 6 pm to 8 pm. Get the date in your diary!

Thanks, everyone and see you on November 13th!

Brian

#WorkWellIreland


Brian CrookeBrian Crooke is a wellness consultant, speaker and trainer specialising in the auditing, development and delivery of workplace wellness initiatives for Irish companies through his Office Worker Health business. He is the founder of the Workplace Wellness Ireland community and meet up. In his spare time Brian is trying to bring free resistance training to every county and community in Ireland with his parkHIIT project. Contact Brian to find out more: brian@officeworkerhealth.com

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University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point Interns visit London & Ireland

Posted By Chris Andrews, Monday, October 8, 2018
Originally in NWI's International Wellness Connection blog on Friday, September 29, 2017
To access the current and 60 plus members only archived International Wellness Connection articles, become a member
 HERE >>


In November 2016, I received an email from Sallie Scovill, PhD, Associate Professor, UW – Stevens Point asking if I could host 13 students, as she had received confirmation that she had enough students to make a trip to London viable.

UWSP students visiting LondonI was excited. Why? I had previously hosted 12 UWSP Interns in 2015 and the experience of sharing my career journey in Wellness in the USA and in the UK at that time encouraged me to agree to this new request.

I am a 1993 graduate from UWSP in Health Promotion – Wellness, and I completed my Internship in the UK. This provided me with the opportunity to start my own business. In 2000, Personal Touch Fitness was launched and 17 years on, the business continues to offer various corporations Health & Wellbeing programmes to suit their business plans. So when asked to host and share my experiences again, I grabbed the opportunity.

I feel it is important to share and highlight accomplishments of meeting goals, and the highs and lows of running a successful business with the future practitioners of our profession. On June 6, 2017, thirteen Interns came to one of Personal Touch Fitness’ clients in London to observe, learn, participate, and engage with the business, all the while being encouraged to ask questions.

UWSP students visit Personal Touch Fitness in London, 2016

Personal Touch Fitness hosted the interns from 11am – 2:15 pm, and started with the group being split into two smaller groups. Group one, led by myself, was given a tour of the fitness centre, which included information about all services provided, operations, posters, marketing, subcontractors, employees, equipment, classes, etc... There were many questions, and it really highlighted to students how everything needs to work well operationally to be a success.

What can go wrong? How do you manage it? How do you learn? These were some of the questions students asked.

Group 2 was hosted by our Fitness Manager, Martina, and these students experienced the Health Assessment that is provided to fitness centre members.
After 30 minutes, the groups switched.

Afterwards, we made our way to a large meeting room on the top floor of the site. The students were pleased with the view into London City with Canary Wharf in the distance. It was time to have a healthy working lunch. This was a selection of freshly made sandwiches, wraps, fresh fruit, and water. I talked about the background to Personal Touch Fitness from 2000 – 2017. My goal was to give the students an understanding of how crucial it is for a business to always innovate, grow, learn, and offer different services whilst listening to clients’ needs. Each of these is necessary to tailor services, and to deliver what you set out to do.

Martina also shared her experiences of being an employee of Personal Touch Fitness, and how she was developing her skills of presenting by being involved in hosting the group. She admitted that she needed to work on this, and the students loved the honesty. Seeing first-hand that we are always learning helped them to realize that they too will need to become life-long learners to excel professionally. That is wellness.

UWSP students learn from Chris Andrews in London

To end the time with the students, I wanted to close with a Q & A session. I had asked Sallie to have each student write down a question, then send them all to me prior to June. Martina and I answered each question. This process worked really well, as the students found it extremely interesting.

An example of questions:

  • What was the biggest mistake you have made within the field of health promotion and wellness?
  • What are some things you do that have been successful to inspire and motivate employees to want to start a healthier lifestyle at your clients' companies?
  • What is reflexology, and how does it relate to lowering your stress along with exercise?
  • What techniques do you use to convince large companies to get on board with your programs?
  • Do employers have the American 9-5 work hours, or do they let employees decide what hours they want to work?
  • How do you get the most current information, to stay up to date with trends and information?

Was it a great experience for the students? Yes, let me share what one student sent me:

Dear Chris,

 It was wonderful meeting you today. I am so grateful that you took the time out of your day to share your personal journey of building a business such as Personal Touch Fitness with UWSP Health Promotion Students like myself. It was such an amazing opportunity to learn about Personal Touch Fitness and all the hard work that was put into the company to create such a unique business.

 I think I speak for all the UWSP students when I say you are truly inspiring, and I could just feel your passion for the business and what it promotes when you speak. It is encouraging for us as students to hear about someone who has walked in our shoes and has been able to create something so beautiful from an immense amount of hard work and dedication. Thank you for Martina's information, I hope our paths cross again very soon. I've attached our photo together [see photo below] in this email as well. Thank you so much for everything.

Best wishes, Mallory Price


UWSP student Mallory Price visiting Personal Touch Fitness in London, 2016Health & Wellbeing is about sharing, learning, awareness, mindfulness, and always working towards making small adjustments to one's wellbeing for a healthier life. What are you doing to make a difference?

Good luck to all students around the world to reach out and learn, grow and achieve. You are the next generation to push wellness forward. Cultivate a culture that flourishes.

Chris Andrews


Chris is the MD of Personal Touch Fitness (PTF) for 17 years in the UK. Chris prides herself in her passion, enthusiasm and expertise in providing fitness services in the corporate environment which is extended through the company values, ethos and to the employees. With almost 23 years of experience, many leading PTF, she has learnt what works and what doesn’t. Her energy drives her tireless quest to improve her clients’ health and fitness. Chris has given PTF clients the confidence to harness her skills to lead Facilities and Service Provider workshops as well as formulate and promote client Wellbeing Strategies.


Tags:  Interns  Ireland  London  Stevens Point  University of Wisconsin Stevens Point  UWSP 

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The Banyans Health and Wellness: From Dream To the Reality Of Setting Up the Southern Hemisphere’s Most Comprehensive Integrated Wellness Retreat

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Updated: Monday, July 9, 2018
Originally Posted By NWI, Tuesday, July 11, 2017
To access the current and 60 plus members only archived International Wellness Connection articles, become a member
 HERE >>


Ruth Limkin
Founding CEO – The Banyans Health and Wellness
Queensland, Australia

The BanyansIn Australia, the wellness market is still developing, and there are limited options for those seeking comprehensive, integrated wellness programs.

Whether the health concern is lifestyle stress for busy executives; depression or anxiety; or overuse of alcohol or other substances as self-medicating pain or distress; the main programs that have been available are traditional institutional hospital programs, therapeutic community programs, or outpatient programs.

While residential programs with a wellness focus are slowly becoming more popular, there has still been a need for a comprehensive program offering best in field practitioners and a truly integrated approach that provides privacy and individual therapy.

Over the last 18 months, I have been involved in the establishment of a new wellness centre. Called, The Banyans Health and Wellness, it was purpose-built to provide tailored programs for discerning individuals, and with the highest level of specialist practitioner support available within the Southern Hemisphere. Drawing guests from around Australia, from the USA, New Zealand and Singapore the results are a testament to the benefit of a model that is medically informed and integrated with biopsychosocial care.

A holistic approach to healing.We have drawn on the Dimensions of Wellness from The National Wellness Institute, and trained our foundation staff in this model. This has meant that we take an integrated and holistic approach to wellness which informs every part of our program, and the shared language of staff helps our guests to understand the breadth of wellness.

For instance, with a Nutritionist on board, our team understands that proper nutrition and hydration are key to help restore physical and mental health and improve the chance of recovery. They understand that macro- and micronutrient deficiencies can lead to symptoms of depression, anxiety, and low energy, all of which can lead someone to start bad habits or learn maladaptive coping mechanisms in an attempt to soothe, comfort or distract themselves from the pain of their condition or symptoms of disease.

This integrated approach provides the best of both worlds, with robust medical care as needed and allied health providers working to provide more broad approaches to health and well-being. This means that medication is not feared nor is it seen as the only way to assist emotional and mental well-being.

As the Founding CEO, it has been a privilege to work with a large team to create wellness experiences for guests who have measurable, demonstrated results. It has been a joy to see the multi-modality of therapies being delivered successfully.

Time for reflection.Our Clinical Director Peter Hayton explains the benefits of integrated residential programs in comparison to consultations in an out-patient mode. He says, “Many Psychologists in less frequent models of delivery, such as occasional appointments, need to rely on a client’s own motivation to address areas of physical well-being. This can be a difficult scenario, as the reason a client is seeing a therapist often means they have reduced motivation. Therefore, a psychologist may need a number of consultation sessions just to address this motivation and need to improve physical health concerns. However, in a residential wellness program, the aspects of diet, nutrition, exercise, and sleep are not only coordinated with the support of other professionals in the program, but are also scheduled into the daily program, freeing the counselling and psychological therapy time to address other concerns.To be successful, counselling and psychological treatment also require that clients allow ample time for contemplation, adjustment, and implementation. Less frequent therapy programs offer this space in between the weekly or monthly consultations and while therapists may set homework, the busy schedule of life can get in the way. This can make it difficult for clients to follow up or even take the time to practice new skills and learnings. In a residential program, while the program can be busy, there is also time specifically allocated for reflection, without the trappings and distraction of normal schedules and responsibilities. Thus the impact of transformation can be enhanced. Moreover, activities like yoga, music, and artwork often work hand in hand with the therapy components, adding power and emphasis to the change process.

This is supported by research, with a broad study by Sheffield Hallam University Horse Therapyshowing that there was strong and consistent evidence for residential programs including:

  • Residential programs provided benefits in physical and mental health and reductions in substance use.
  • A study of females showed a clear benefit from residential treatment programmes in the area of psychological health.
  • Greater overall improvement in physical health was related to residential programs than other forms of treatment.
  • Long-term outcomes provide a strong endorsement of residential treatment and the longevity of its positive effects.
  • Residential programs were significantly implicated in positive health outcomes, especially for those with alcohol, in the Australian Patient Pathways study.
  • Residential programs are generally dealing with complex health needs, yet generally achieve equivalent or better results to other modalities of treatment.
A holistic approach to wellness.

For many people who have significant professional or personal responsibilities, investing one month in an intensive therapy program followed up supportive aftercare is much more attractive than eight months of trying to fit therapy in amidst the rest of life. Many guests also value the confidentiality that comes with one on one therapy rather than having to disclose personal details in group therapy.

Perhaps the most unexpected lesson over the last 18 months of operation is how discreetly people seek wellness programs like ours. With most guests finding us online, they are preferring to research options themselves online rather than talking to health providers. This has meant we have continued to refine our online communication and will do so on an ongoing basis.

A focus on wellness today provides greater quality of life for many years to come—it’s an investment with healthy returns.

Wellness practitioners who would like to see case examples are welcome to contact me at ruth@thebanyans.com.au for these or further information.


Ruth Limkin is a leader and communicator. Ruth is passionate about creating a better tomorrow and this has led her into all sorts of interesting spaces and experiences in media, politics, charity and business. Recent professional roles have included CEO of a charity, Chief of Staff to the Speaker of Queensland Parliament and currently, the CEO of The Banyans Health and Wellness (www.thebanyans.com.au), running a Wellness Residence. Born in Japan, Ruth has lived most of her life in Brisbane, and has enjoyed travels around Southeast Asia, the Pacific, UK, Europe, and the U.S.

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Global Wellness Day 2018

Posted By Charlie Learman-Wood, Friday, July 6, 2018
Updated: Monday, July 9, 2018
Charlie Learman-Wood BSc (Hons) International Spa Management, University of Derby, UK. 

The event took place in the university’s’ historical Devonshire Dome campus – adorned in the iconic magenta colour of the Global Wellness Day brandOn the 9th June, the 6th annual Global Wellness Day took place in over 100 different countries at over 5000 different locations. As the University of Derby Buxton is a forerunner in the provision of spa and wellness education, it was only fitting that we celebrate such a day, and so a fantastic event was organised by two 3rd year students from the International Spa Management degree course. The event took place in the university’s’ historical Devonshire Dome campus – adorned in the iconic magenta colour of the Global Wellness Day brand, the Dome was the perfect setting to host such an event. The aim of the day was to the statement “One day can change your whole life” by bringing awareness to a wellness lifestyle. The Global Wellness Day manifest for 2018 was comprised of 7 elements: walk for an hour each day, drink more water, don’t use plastic bottles, eat healthy food, do a good deed, have a family dinner and sleep at 10pm each night. 

Delivered by a professional doctor, guests were shown a presentation which introduced the concepts of healthy eating and mental techniques that can be used to switch cravings from junk food to vibrant, nutritious and healthy food. With this in mind, the event was organised to reflect these ideals and create awareness in an engaging manner. The day was filled with an ample amount of activities, some of which ran throughout the whole day, and some that were delivered in allocated time slots. This helped to create a fun atmosphere that was also structured enough so that no one got confused by the itinerary – this was a day centred on wellness after all! The team came up with a great idea to design passport-style itineraries so that guests could keep a visual record of which activities they had participated in throughout the day. With this, guests could collect stickers as an incentive to increase participation; each sticker was worth one entry to a prize draw. The event attracted guests of all ages – both adults and children – all of which appeared to enjoy the day in equal amounts. The event also fell on the same date as a university open day, so there were many additional guests that chose to join in the fun. 

The scheduled activities included the following:

  • Wellness Walk. Equipped with Global Wellness Day display paddles, a party of around 20 people took part in this activity. We were led on a route past the historic St Anne’s Well – where famous Buxton mineral water is pumped from the ground – and to the scenic Pavilion Gardens. Buxton is a bustling town during the summer months and the weather was perfect, so this was certainly a highlight of the day. The walk demonstrated that the aim of walking for one hour each day is an achievable step to a healthier lifestyle. 
  •  It can’t be said that everyone mastered the moves, but it was definitely great fun!Tai Chi workshop. There were two Tai Chi workshops on the day. The first one took place inside the Dome and introduced participants to a few simple movements, followed by a 5 minute demonstration from the instructor. After people had processed these simple moves, it was time to move onto something slightly more advanced, so later on in the day we gathered again, this time on the lawn outside of the building. It can’t be said that everyone mastered the moves, but it was definitely great fun!
  • Healthy Food workshop and Healthy Lunch. Delivered by a professional doctor, guests were shown a presentation which introduced the concepts of healthy eating and mental techniques that can be used to switch cravings from junk food to vibrant, nutritious and healthy food. This was the ideal precursor to the healthy lunch, which was presented in a social, ‘family style’ setting with two long tables rather than many separate ones. We were treated to a wonderful array of rainbow foods which left us feeling full and satisfied, and the general consensus was that the food actually beat quick fixes such as pizza or pasta (not to say treating yourself isn’t a part of wellness too!).
  • Mindfulness workshop. This pressure-free, informal workshop included an introduction into what mindfulness means, followed by a 10-minute guided mindfulness session. During this, we were taught to acknowledge our breathing and centre our thoughts to the present moment. The benefits of mindfulness for the mind, body and spirit were explained, leaving people eager to learn more. Feedback from the participants was very positive and there was a relaxed vibe in the room.

Additionally, there was a Children’s Reading Room, Plastic Awareness information stand and spa treatment demonstration stand that guests could visit throughout the day. There was also an Affirmation Board – people had the opportunity to write something that they were grateful for or happy about, and display it on a board for all to see. By the end of the day, the board was covered with over 40 affirmations, which conveyed a powerful, positive message that fittingly reflected the principles of wellness.  

“One day can change your life”The impacts the day had for me personally were profound in terms of insight – I went away from the day feeling super reflective. As for the “One day can change your life” claim? After being armed with knowledge surrounding the dangers of plastic, I have converted to bamboo cups, I haven’t bought a plastic bag in weeks, I am eating healthier and my water intake is certainly up (however, the recommendation to sleep at 10pm may take some time to implement!). But that’s the great thing about the wellness movement – it doesn’t demand a drastic overnight change, it encourages small, achievable lifestyle alterations that can have a subtle positive impact on overall wellness. With annual events set to follow, this is just the beginning!


Tags:  awareness  Global Wellness Day  United Kingdom  Wellness 

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Thank You for Your Service—Bob Boyd!

Posted By NWI, Thursday, June 7, 2018

Bob BoydAt the National Wellness Conference this year, Bob Boyd will be stepping down from the National Wellness Board of Directors after serving his limit of two full terms. NWI has cherished Bob’s vigorous engagement spanning over twenty years. For many years Bob would arrive from his home in Brisbane, Australia after an 18-20 hour plane ride and immediately plunge into work as a conference volunteer. A pioneer in his country’s wellness movement, a dedicated university instructor, and Founding President of the National Wellness Institute of Australia, Bob brought tremendous experience and continual passion for wellness to the NWI Board

Bob has spearheaded NWI’s International efforts, networking and recruiting wellness professionals from around the globe to become engaged in our organization. This has resulted in the formation of the NWI International Standing Committee furthering involvement by international members and developing ways to spread wellness globally. He will continue to be involved with the work of the committee as a member volunteer.

For more than forty years Bob has been contributed professionally across all areas of personal and corporate wellness. His involvement includes research, consulting and teaching.

A Ministerial appointment to the Queensland State Steering Committee on Health Promotion in the Workplace preceded his appointment as the inaugural Director of the Queensland University of Technology Wellness Matters Program. He is an accredited Workplace Wellness Director, Certified Wellness Practitioner, Certified Workplace Program manager, Wellness Culture Coach, and Wellness Coach Trainer (for Real Balance Global Wellness Services, Inc.).

While exiting the board, NWI and all of its members look forward to continuing to enjoy not only Bob’s professional contributions, but also his joyous embrace of life that we all love to experience.  Cheers mate!


Michael ArloskiMichael Arloski, Ph.D., PCC, CWP, National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach
Real Balance Global Wellness Services, Inc.
michael@realbalance.com
www.realbalance.com
1-970-568-4700
Fort Collins, Colorado

President, Board of Directors, National Wellness Institute


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