Chew On It: Passion and the Pursuit of Excellence

October marked 17 years since the first Elixr health club opened and to celebrate, I thought I’d share some of the Elixr story with you, starting in 1997, when I sold my pride and joy, Healthland Fitness Centre, to a publicly listed South African health clubs company.

At the time, Healthland was the most successful and high profile fitness club in Australia and, while I regretted my decision to sell, I realised over time that the knowledge and experience I’d gained from delving into the corporate world had left me with some very valuable insights – while I learned the importance of systems and the value of discipline, I also realised that the impersonal approach and huge focus on profit did not align with my core principles.

When I once again had the opportunity to operate my own health club in early 2000, I knew I wanted it to be different. It needed to have a strong mind-body focus, the space needed to be non-intimidating and mindfully calming yet energising, and it needed to be driven by hard work and a desire for excellence rather than the bottom line. But most importantly, it needed to make a positive difference to its members in mind, body and spirit.

Naming the club was a carefully considered decision and took some time. Eventually it dawned on me: Elixir, a magical substance that prolongs life indefinitely and a panacea to good health. (My marketing friends convinced me to tweak it to Elixr.)

As for the club’s signature red and gold, alchemists believed that the hypothetical liquid we had named the club after was capable of changing base metals into gold, and in Chinese culture, red symbolises vitality, good luck, prosperity, joy and happiness.

Pilates and yoga became the club’s primary areas of focus in keeping with my desire to pioneer in the mind-body space.

Elixr Pilates is informed by the classical training of Joseph Pilates and the evidence-based research of the world’s leading authority on Spinal Mechanics, Professor Stuart McGill, whose courses we attended in North America while developing our approach. Professor McGill presents to osteopaths, chiropractors, exercise physiologists and surgeons around the world and Elixr is proud to be hosting him again in Sydney in February 2020.

The Elixr School of Pilates has trained over 1000 Pilates instructors to date, with most of the top graduates applying to teach at Elixr and successful candidates attending intensive training with Elixr Pilates Director Rachel Crompton. They are also required to attain a qualification in fitness – learning what to do and how to do it is important, but it’s essential to know why you’re doing it.

Elixr Yoga offers our members a wide variety of classes and since the beginning, we’ve ensured that our teachers are trained by respected yoga teacher trainers – many have also travelled to India for in-depth training. Our high-level team is led by Head of Yoga Martine Allars, who has been practising for over 25 years and teaching for 21, and includes Don Peers, Margaret Ceresoli, Henryk Liskiewicz (all three have taught internationally), Yuki Nakamura and Terri Love, all of whom have taught for over 20 years. Most of our yoga teachers have at least 15 years’ experience.

Our fitness instructors are also of the highest calibre. Marian Frankel, Michael Jeffreys, Imran Malik and Carlos Salazar are all highly experienced and have been fitness managers at various fitness chains – Marian and Michael left secure managerial positions to join me at Elixr Bondi Junction when it opened in 2005.

Over the past 17 years, Elixr has blossomed into a community of truly wonderful people and I am sincerely grateful to our members and staff for Elixr’s longevity and for the fact that it continues to be successful. Thank you.