While she may make it all look easy, Raleigh admits that she has encountered some serious obstacles on the way to achieving this dream.
“My biggest challenges are finding sponsorship for national projects, and convincing others that health is a worthy investment,” she says. “I dream big and am doing my best to make national change to the frightening statistics that are testimony to South Africa’s current health epidemic. Preventative health, however, can be a difficult idea to endorse. I want to instil the idea that taking action now determines the quality of your future.”
Despite these challenges, Raleigh is clearly optimistic about the future and her ability to spread the message of wellness and accountability.
“We are in the throes of a wellness revolution, with the media serving as the biggest game-changer,” she says. “The Internet, YouTube, blogs and social media are creating instant and free avenues for the public to learn more about their health and fitness.”
Raleigh points out that doctors, hospitals and therapists are no longer the “only sources of health improvement and monitoring” – indeed, wit h t he v a s t amount of gadgetry now available, people can monitor t hei r own heart rates, count calories, track workout progress and even determine the quality of their sleep.
“Being ‘ healthy’ is no longer a foreign concept, requiring the support of experts, but one that we can control and implement ourselves to a large degree,” she adds.
Encouragingly, Raleigh points out that this trend is also making an impact on corporate attitudes toward employee wellbeing. While it’s too early to start doing star jumps in the boardroom, Raleigh says that wellness is clearly becoming a priority.
“We’re seeing the likes of team building events, corporate challenges and on-site gym facilities emerging in the workplace,” she says. “Since a good portion of your employees’ time is spent at work, this environment stands to benefit the most from a healthy lifestyle.”
So what fuels this ambitious fitness fundi turned businesswoman, besides super-food smoothies and morning yoga?
“I am learning my way around the business world, and I love the innovative ideas and interesting people I come across, all sharing the same passion of striving to make a difference,” she explains. “I love that small businesses in South Africa have growing support, as well as a powerful community element of infrastructure. The real passion, though, is the industry I work in . . . I feel there is no greater cause than improving health and educating, and equipping others to do the same.”
Lisa Raleigh, wellness expert and founder of SUNfit