When Brian Lalonde, founder of Awaken Holistic Health & Wellness, got sick eight years ago, dozens of visits to the doctor’s office left him feeling like something was missing from his diagnosis.
“A friend turned me on to the world of complimentary and alternative medicine, and that’s when I started seeing a difference being made. Then a lightbulb went off. I thought, what else is out there?”
Lalonde spent more than 20 years in the restaurant business before deciding to switch industries, after his own experience with various types of health care and wellness options. He saw a gap in the wellness industry that he knew he could fill.
The idea behind Awaken Holistic is to give health and wellness practitioners the support they need on the business side, so they can focus on providing great service to their clients. The business will eventually house many different wellness professionals, from physiotherapists to yoga instructors and lots in between, under one big roof.
“I’ve seen hundreds of different professionals in the industry. You never know what that thing is that’s going to make the difference for you, people connect with difference things,” Lalonde said.
“I noticed these professionals were always dealing with stuff. Maybe they didn’t have enough money, were working with more clientele than they could handle, working lots of jobs to do what they love to do.”
The business model is different because it focuses on helping wellness professionals of all kinds be successful at running their own businesses and practices. So the clients at Awaken Holistic are actually the wellness practitioners, rather than the users of the future facility and services that will be available.
“My thought is, if you take care of the professionals, their ability to deliver premium service to their clients will be there. It’s the same thing on a plane: put your own mask on before anyone else’s,” Lalonde said.
The other big goal for Lalonde is to offer Calgarians many different wellness options under one roof.
“If you met someone on the street and said, are you healthy, the majority of people would say, yeah, I eat right and I exercise. When people think of health, that’s what they think of,” Lalonde said.
“But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to health, If you’re dealing with stresses in your life with work or family or health conditions, mental health is something that doesn’t get addressed very often in either western medicine or in the holistic health and wellness world. So we’re a centre that wants to support the whole body.”
Lalonde said that he’s constantly looking for different types of professionals he hasn’t engaged with yet to be part of the centre. Right now, he’s looking to engage a financial advisor, explaining that often someone’s health might be affected by money troubles.
So far, Awaken Holistic will have a music therapist, an intimacy and tantric coach, yoga and fitness classes, a kitchen with food and chefs, products in their retail space, massage therapy, reiki, bio energy, various types of energy healing, a sauna, a float pod room, and salt therapy, among other wellness professionals and experiences.
Lalonde is running a crowdfunding campaign on Alberta Boostr, hoping to raise capital to help them open the physical space for Awaken Holistic. Right now, they’re operating as an online community to get started. Contributions can be made through albertaboostr.ca.
Awaken Holistic is also hosting a gala on December 8 to raise money. More information can be found on their Facebook page or at awakenholistic.ca.