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Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

People profile: Julian Hitch, Leon

DIRECTOR OF WELLBEING, LEON

Published in Health Club Management 2018 issue 4
John Vincent, the founder of Leon (left) with martial arts expert Julian Hitch
John Vincent, the founder of Leon (left) with martial arts expert Julian Hitch
Leon’s founding mission is to help people ‘live and eat well’ and wellbeing is a natural extension of this

When martial arts teacher Julian Hitch met John Vincent, the founder of healthy fast food chain Leon, two years ago, the food brand’s official move into the fitness and wellbeing space was set in motion.

Impressed with Hitch’s expertise in wellbeing, Vincent brought him on board to lead the launch of Leon’s first wellbeing centre, the Kwoon, in October.

THE KWOON
The wellbeing centre, which is located above the restaurant chain’s Eastcastle Street location in central London, has been designed around the ancient Chinese martial art of Wing Tsun Kung Fu and serves as a Zen-inspired space for achieving peace and relaxation in the heart of the British capital.

While martial arts classes are a key offering, other activities, such as Zumba, yoga, meditation, sound therapy, rebounder fitness and massages are available, free of charge, at the facility.

However, there is just one catch, explains Hitch. “It’s a service provided primarily for Leon staff members.”

He adds: “While we hold numerous wellness events for the general public, our focus, first and foremost, is on our own team members at Leon.”

INSPIRING UPTAKE
The uptake has been “inspiring”, says Hitch, with more than 1,500 members attending classes and activities since the Kwoon’s soft launch last March.

“Leon’s founding mission is to help people to ‘live and eat well’ – and wellbeing is a natural extension of this,” Hitch says. “For us, authenticity is important, so we want everything that we do to first be practised in our restaurants and by our staff.”

Recognising the toll the work can take on staff who are on their feet all day, the Kwoon also offers a free injury rehabilitation service, as Hitch explains: “Wing Tsun teaches a concept called mini-max – that’s minimal effort for maximum effect. In keeping with this, we offer something called AIS, which is active isolated stretching, it’s a phenomenal injury prevention strategy.”

THE ROAD AHEAD
“We’re constantly developing our wellbeing concepts,” says Hitch. “Our ultimate goal is to actively practice wellbeing in all our restaurants every day. At the end of January, we started training team members from every department in AIS, so our ability to help all our staff to stay healthy is significantly increasing.

“We’re also aiming to have ‘wellbeing champions’ in every restaurant, develop new ergonomic programmes for our team members in the kitchen and provide rebounders in many of our restaurants.”

• Hitch is co-authoring a book with Vincent, called Winning not Fighting, which will be published by Penguin later this year.

Martial arts teacher Hitch led the launch of Leon’s first wellbeing centre
Martial arts teacher Hitch led the launch of Leon’s first wellbeing centre
The Kwoon exclusively caters for Leon staff
The Kwoon exclusively caters for Leon staff
http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/678860_753643.jpg
Julian Hitch is a martial arts teacher and Director of Wellbeing at health fast food chain Leon. We talk to him about Leon's first employee wellbeing centre... @leonrestaurants
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