Bop Design: Good afternoon everybody. Welcome to the B2B Marketing Bopcast hosted by Bop Design. Today is April 15, 2014. I’m speaking today with Wyatt Chapman. He’s CEO, cofounder of VeraVia, which is a really interesting new client of ours. They are located in Carlsbad and are an all-inclusive luxury health and fitness resort. Wyatt, could you tell us a little bit about VeraVia and how it got started?
Wyatt Chapman: Of course. Thank you for the introduction. VeraVia is a luxury all-inclusive health and fitness retreat. It really is truly all-inclusive. That’s one thing that differentiates us from our competitors. We designed VeraVia and its programs to create lasting behavioral and lifestyle changes. What that means is it’s a little bit different from a retreat where you go and have a nice time and then you go back home and it’s separate from your life. We’re actually educating people to be able to go back in their lives and make changes that give them long term health and wellness.
The other nice thing about VeraVia is we offer a wraparound approach to wellness. What that means is we have a multidisciplinary, fully integrated team of professionals that are working together to help you achieve your wellness goals. We also combine Eastern and Western philosophies to really give our clients the best of both worlds and what’s been proven to work. With those we treat the whole person, body, mind and spirit because really that’s what we believe in strongly is the best results you’re going to get in your health goals is by treating the whole person.
BD: Could you tell me a little bit about your personal story. I know that you and your wife Melissa co-founded VeraVia and started it together. I understand you were previously working in architecture, which for many seems like a total leap of from going from being an architect to the health and fitness industry.
WC: Yeah. It is a change in some aspects and in others it’s not so much. Since I was a teenager I was always interested in health and fitness. Then now more in terms of how a person can learn about health and fitness in a way that they can cause change. How can I do something to change my body energy for the better to essentially enjoy life more and have a different experience of life? That’s always been an interest in mine. From the architecture side I was the principal and president of an architectural firm here in San Diego—more on the business side of things. I was really dealing with the business and management. For me the journey was really how the stress of that job and the hectic-ness and not everything started to work against my health and my well-being.
For me, operating in the business and management side of the firm was exciting. We grew fast; we had a lot of large interesting projects, but time over time I started to feel the effects of too much stress and really being burnt out working too many hours. What that meant is not being able to then enjoy the things that I like to do like exercise, spend time with my family, spend time with my kids. VeraVia was started and founded by my wife and I really as an exploration for me to along those times to explore how can one live a better life. That’s where our pursuit of creating a lasting behavioral and lifestyle changes really comes into play.
How can one come to VeraVia and learn skills that when they go back into these crazy routines that we seem to all live these days, how can I have a better experience of my day to day life?
BD: Getting to what you said while you were a principal in an extremely hectic environment and how that was having negative effects on your health, what do you think are typically an individuals or your clientele’s obstacles to long term wellness?
WC: That’s a great question. Before I answer that if I can go back just a second, the other reason that makes VeraVia so exciting is what I bring to it is from that executive health standpoint. You see that a lot in society today, these executives that are striving for success, but at what type of a cost to their health, to their family, to their energy, to their just enjoyment of life. Simultaneously, as I was going through that, my wife has always had a struggle with weight loss. Whereas I love to go exercise and it was a stress relief for me, she doesn’t like it. It’s not something she really gravitates to.
In her journey along weight loss and how to be healthy from that standpoint, that’s where we’re a great team is we combine both of those backgrounds to really give a product to both types of clients, that executive health reboot client and then someone who’s really coming to learn how to make these changes in their life who have never been interested or can climb that way before.
BD: Definitely I think that’s a really fantastic and interesting combination of you can be in a situation where you love fitness, but you have strains on your life style that’s causing issues or you can be an individual who just never really found fitness as a priority or never personally enjoyed it. How do you give each of those different types of clients a plan? How do you treat them differently?
WC: It really has to do, for us it starts with a pre-arrival questionnaire that we give our clients. Before anybody even comes to us, once they’ve signed up and booked we give them online, its HIPPA protected secure questionnaire that is extremely thorough. It gets into first and foremost what are their goals in coming here to VeraVia, but also lifestyle habits, medication, complete health history, sleep habits, exercise habits, food intolerances. With that we then use that to really custom tailor a program to help that person with their goals.
BD: I understand that the great thing about VeraVia is that—with this questionnaire—that you have completed you have a holistic picture of the client that is coming in. What are some commonalities that you see in that questionnaire that are keeping them from establishing a long term wellness plan on their own?
WC: We do see a lot of common themes from the responses in questionnaires. We also at VeraVia—with our behavioral health component which is led from our psychology team—we do a lot of research into behavioral health and behaviorals for people. How do people adopt new behaviors? How do healthy people effectively manage their lives? There are some common themes to what are obstacles that people do encounter. Probably the most common that we get is knowledge or lack of knowledge or vice versa, too much knowledge.
This inundated way that we can get information now, people will come to us and they’ll say “I don’t know where to begin. My friend says this is the best thing to do. My trainer says this is the best thing.” They come in with almost too much information sometimes or zero information. Either of those cases are just as difficult. The second common obstacle that we see or hear a lot—especially with executives that maybe have strong work commitments or are traveling a lot is time or lack of time—which I always like to try to rephrase that. It’s not so much a lack of time; it’s an issue of prioritization.
We all have the same amount of time in our day and there’s a lot of people that are busy that are able to lead healthy lives. What it means is they’re putting exercise or eating well at a higher priority than other things in their lives. That’s an interesting discussion of course. Of course what do we hear most with that is jobs of course and then family. People say “Work is so busy by the time I get home I’m too tired. I don’t have time to exercise. I don’t have time to eat properly. I’m on the go all day. When I get home I have family commitments.” Trying to help our clients re-prioritize or how can I prioritize health and fitness in their lives is something we look at a lot.
A third obstacle that we see a lot is our tendency more in more in society now is this idea that we’re forced to focus on more immediate issues. Let me explain that a little bit. With the way we live our lives with us being constantly connected, whether that’s to work or to family or to news, all of those things. We get so much information and what that means is people expect us to respond immediately. It’s not like you send something in the mail and I’ll get back to that issue by another mailing or call somebody. People want immediate responses.
A lot of people are leaving their lives just looking at these immediate fires that they need to put out. What that means is you have less and less time seemingly to really step back and think “How are these decisions going to impact me for the long term?” If I’m going to make a goal that’s a long term goal that can get pushed to the side pretty quickly if you’re just dealing with these quick fires that are coming at you all day long. That’s a third obstacle. A fourth obstacle to long term wellness that we see a lot is a lot of people have the view that being healthy involves hard work, usually with exercising and boring food. Neither of those sound very exciting.
To really get on board and to try to implement these things into your life, it’s not very exciting to get behind. What’s great about VeraVia is we really help people address all of those obstacles. We give you the knowledge in a way that’s not overwhelming, it’s simple, it’s not reinventing the wheel. It’s just breaking it down in a way that our clients can understand. We also then show our clients how they can make healthy lifestyle choices into their normal routine without dedicating hours and hours to exercise. They’re going to say “I don’t have this so I give up.” The other thing we do is again by taking a health treat like VeraVia offers, it gives people the perfect environment to really take time out of their normal routine and really focus on what are your long term health goals.
Again what we find is in today’s day and age, a lot of people don’t really take that time to introspect and refocus what are their long term goals and what are they going to do to get there.The other thing we do and we show people how to have fun while they’re getting fit. We do that with variety. We do that with fun exercises. We try to keep that interesting as well.
BD: That’s really great how flexible you are with your program and how important it is to show people that what may seem like big obstacles when they arrive, but bringing them to a neutral setting and giving them personalized knowledge so that they’re empowered to go improve their lives long term I think is really important. With that tailored plan and that knowledge that you provide your clients, what of those ideas some of the easiest changes that you’ve seen clients been able to implement post their stay at VeraVia?
WC: Rather than a specific change it’s more the kind of change and what I mean by that is we try to help our clients focus on adding small habits into their current routine. What doesn’t work for a lot of people—again there’s statistics all over the place about how many New Year’s resolutions fail and people that have heart attacks—so few of them go back into their lives and make the changes that the doctor’s recommend. What a lot of this comes down to is this all or nothing approach and also how people tend to structure these goals in their minds.
For instance, let me give an example. Somebody who’s looking to lose weight might have a New Year’s resolution of “I want to lose weight,” which is a very poor goal. A more specific one might be “I want to lose 20 pounds.” An even more specific one might be “I want to lose 20 pounds in six months.” We’re getting more specific. The issues there though is they’re still not looking at what are the day-to-day choices that you’re going to make, that you will make that will help you reach that goal? That’s what we try to help break it down to is looking at those small changes, but also again looking at from the behavioral side what’s proven to work in the past for people that are trying to make changes.
It’s looking at habits that aren’t good and trying to replace them with habits that are good. Again even with those habits what works for people is having a very specific queue. After I wake up, have my coffee, then I’m going to go jog for 30 minutes. A very specific thing that’s going to help you queue that habit so it just becomes part of your routine rather than a choice that you have to make day to day “I have to exercise today. When am I going to do it? What am I going to do for my exercise” because those things don’t work really. That’s where people lose [momentum]. Then they give up because it becomes too hard.
BD: I like that idea that just getting it, having a mental switch in your mind of after this part of my habitual day I’m going to do this next. That is going to be improvement for my health.I know that VeraVia has a mental component to the retreat which I think very few if any programs out there do will require clients to sit down with your behavioral psychologist. What have you seen in terms of how does mental health play into a healthy lifestyle and then negative impact it could have?
WC: It’s absolutely critical, but even more so than that it’s from our standpoint one of several important and interrelated aspects that are important and critical to have a successful, healthy lifestyle. That is a difference in VeraVia is there’s other places that you can go that might have psycho educational workshops or they might have the option to see a psychotherapist on an individual basis. Again, it’s so important from our standpoint that the mental side be addressed. That’s why we include as part of our basic program. We think it’s that important and we also include more individual one on one sessions with a behavioral therapist than really any other program out there. That’s included in our basic package.
With our approach again looking at those several interrelated issues we have four pillars of health that we address. One of them is fitness, the others are nutrition and medical and wellness. From our standpoint fitness, again we design it to be fun and we design it to have a variety so people enjoy it while they’re there. With the nutrition, again our philosophy is if we’re not putting people on a diet we’re really just showing them that you can eat a variety of natural foods and meet your goals whether it’s lose weight or some people want to gain weight, some people want more energy. We’re not going to restrict people on their nutrition. We’re just going to show them ways that you can enjoy healthy food.
From the medical standpoint we believe in a naturopathic approach. What that means is from all of our clients that come to VeraVia we start on the first day by drawing blood labs because we want to see at a cellular level really, what are we starting with from a health standpoint with all of our guests? With the naturopathic approach we like that because it’s more of a holistic approach to treating the whole person and not just treating the symptoms, but looking at the underlying causes for whatever ailments or diseases the person is experiencing. With our wellness component that’s really addressed by our mental health and our behavioral health component and also self-care, the importance of self-care and renewal and living a healthy life.
With those four components that again at VeraVia we feel that all of these must be addressed in an integrated way. What you’ll find is that most people in pursuing their health goals will really only look at one or maybe two of these things at a given time and that’s going to be a harder way or not as a sustainable way to have a long term healthy life really.
BD: For most Americans that’s a difficult change to make especially from financial standpoint or just the time, being able to take that time away from their job and their family. How do you explain the value of a fitness retreat to a busy business executive for example?
WC: That’s a great question and it is something that a lot of people will look at the cost for a given time. That amount of cost for a week or for four days or for two weeks, whatever the retreat duration is that they’re looking at. How I like to think about it or explain it more so to people is the best way to look at it is really not just the cost for a retreat, it’s the long term benefit that you’ll gain from the retreat and specifically at VeraVia because again we’re looking at how to create long term change rather than a relaxing vacation, that part of that duration while they’re there.
Again there’s a lot of statistics out there from a financial standpoint how much as society the effects of stress cost us. It’s some 300 billion dollars a year. The impact of heart disease as a cost from society, really if I’m trying to explain to somebody the value of VeraVia to them, I’ll offer some examples of clients that are a little bit more tangible than statistics of cost. Here’s an example, we had a client quite recently who has been 14 years dependent on insulin for diabetes and with her family history she had basically resigned herself to this is something I’m going to have to live with for the rest of my life. She had a pump for the insulin that was permanently on her injecting insulin into her body. That’s obviously very invasive.
She has a family history of diabetes and then all the associated health complications that come with that especially as the person gets older. She came with us, she came to us with a long, long term goal of becoming free of this insulin dependency. After 14 years of being dependent on insulin, after four weeks with us she was able to go completely off of her insulin medication. This is an outstanding thing that again looking at the cost for the retreat for her, she was literally able to change her life in a very tangible way that is real and is going to be with her for the rest of her life.
Even more so from that she’s been gone back to her family and is now going to be this example to show her kids, her grandkids that look you don’t have to just resign yourself to “This is in my family so I have to have it too.” Seeing that transformation, it really puts the cost to be non-existent really. The benefit that she’s getting is a whole new [outlook] on life really for her and that’s how she would describe it.
BD: I think those are fantastic stories because people were so used to self-medicating a lot of times when it comes to physical ailments. I think many people need to realize that the small amount that you can zest in-house retreat like VeraVia can pay off for the rest of your life in terms of fewer trips to the doctor, saves money on medication, but most importantly like you said a whole entirely different life that you can live in terms of the relationships that you can now have that your life is improved.
WC: That’s right. I’ll offer another example. For some people it’s looking at the dollar cost for the trip, for other people it’s not so much the dollar value that’s the cost, it’s really their time. They look at this and say “I could come for four days, but that’s maybe due a little bit to come for a week or two weeks and really trying to get that change out of it, it’s just I can’t afford the time.” Specifically it’s usually the time away from work. It’s high-powered executive that has so [many] demands from that job, from that career.
The thing though is that what we see more and more from the latest research that’s happening in society is that by taking the time away from work to renew ourselves—and being what VeraVia does is we try to educate and show clients why and how to then do that in their normal day to day routines, to be able to take time to renew yourself, to exercise, to eat well. By doing these things and by taking a retreat away from work, that person who maybe couldn’t afford that time will then find that when they go back to work they’re going to be more motivated, more efficient, more productive, more creative. They’re going to be better leaders. They’re going to have more energy.
The time that they lost is easily made up in what they’re contributing then on a day to day basis for having opportunity to experience.
BD: Thank you again so much Wyatt for the great stories, but also the great examples of how individuals have been able to make lifestyle changes and the importance of a long term wellness plan. Thank you again for coming.
WC: You’re welcome. Thank you, it was fun.
This podcast has been edited for clarity.