Sally is the Founder of Stretching the City a company which hosts a team of over 100 wellbeing teachers and experts, and who design and deliver bespoke corporate wellbeing solutions to leading businesses and brands throughout the UK. After setting up almost 10 years ago we wanted to find out just how Sally left working in the corporate life to bring wellbeing to businesses.
It has been a few years since our last interview, what has changed with Stretching the City since 2015?
The most significant change has been closing the yoga retreat side of our business and focusing solely on corporate wellbeing. Although we loved running retreats and have many fond memories from them, they took up a lot of time and resources. Now we’re 100% dedicated to workplace wellbeing, our vision is much clearer and this has enabled us to scale our team, offerings and client base.
Stretching the City has really expanded over time, with everything from workshops about sleep habits to Pilates classes – where do you see the company in a few years?
Whilst London will always be our HQ, we hope to grow in other UK cities. We’ve recently launched in Manchester and have Birmingham and Edinburgh in our sights too. We’ll continue to evolve our offerings in line with new developments and trends in wellbeing – such as ‘sound healing’ and ‘financial wellbeing’ which we’ve recently added to our portfolio.
Tell us a little bit about the Stretching the City Team, who are you and what brings you all together?
We’re a team of almost 100 wellness professionals, ranging from mindfulness teachers to massage therapists and everyone in between!
I look after business development, marketing and strategy and we have Helen, our amazing Operations Manager who looks after all the day to day bookings. We have about 30 bookings a week, all taking place at different times, across different locations, so we need someone as organised as Helen to liaise between the teachers and clients and ensure everything runs smoothly. We then work with digital marketers, accountants and recruitment specialists on an adhoc basis.
You left the corporate world to pursue a career in health through Stretching the City, what is most important for you personally to stay healthy and sane as your business is growing?
I need to practice what I preach, by making my wellbeing a priority – but without putting too much pressure on myself. Since having my son 18 months ago, it’s unfeasible for me to maintain a schedule of regular yoga classes or daily juicing and meditation. Instead, I commit to: Making sleep a priority, eating for energy, switching off my phone by 9pm and doing some sort of movement every day. That’s the bare bones of my self-care and if I can add more, such as a yoga class or some meditation, then I will.
With an increasing of awareness of wellness and health, do you still meet resistance and prejudice about health and yoga in corporate UK?
Attitudes have dramatically shifted since we launched in 2010, but there are certainly still some raised eyebrows and scepticism around yoga and wellness. Although there isn’t a hard science to ‘measuring’ wellbeing, there’s an increasing amount of data and statistics supporting the effectiveness of workplace wellness programmes. Luckily this is helping win over the sceptics and help argue the case for increased budgets and resources dedicated to wellbeing programmes
For a company wanting to bring more wellness into their culture, what is a good place to start?
Start off by asking employees what they want. This could be a short survey, or a ‘wellness week’ that offers various taster sessions and it will help you plan your wellness strategy without too much personal bias. Aim for a broad scope of wellness initiatives, so you are appealing to as many employees as possible. Enlist the help of experts (such as Stretching the City!), but also make use of what and who you have in the office – perhaps someone in your office has done a yoga teacher training, or you have a spare meeting room you can turn in to a phone-free meditation space.
Sally Lovett is the founder and director of Stretching the City, London’s leading workplace wellbeing provider.