Mon | Sep 20, 2021

Kamila McDonald targets holistic change with WellFit

Published:Sunday | May 16, 2021 | 12:11 AMShereita Grizzle - Staff Reporter
Kamila McDonald is taking a holistic approach to health with her new WellFit Club.

Imagine finalising all plans for your latest business venture, launching the programme and then having to reroute at a moment’s notice. For some, buckling under the pressure from the swift change would be inevitable, but for others, championing their way through is the best alternative. The latter was the reality for fitness expert, lifestyle coach and celebrity trainer, Kamila McDonald. In March 2020, McDonald had just launched her WellFit Club, a premier space that would provide a holistic approach to health. But just two weeks into physical classes, COVID-19 struck, and McDonald had to digitalise the programme.

In an interview with The Sunday Gleaner, the fitness practitioner revealed that though flustered, she was thankful she had the expertise that allowed for a smooth transition. “WellFit started out as a physical location. It was 2009 that I last had a physical programme in Kingston, and I felt a pulling and a calling to have something rooted back home. So I rented a space, had all my coaches on board, and WellFit was launched on March 2, two weeks before the first case of COVID in Jamaica,” she said.

In two weeks, McDonald, like many others, had to pivot. “As you can imagine, there is a lot of logistics that go with pivoting online, and I had been promoting WellFit, getting new members, running it for two weeks and getting super excited about this new chapter. Luckily, I had so much experience online I was able to pull on that expertise and online training to deliver a virtual programme in a short time frame,” she said.

Though she was now on an online platform, McDonald said connecting with people and delivering a uniquely crafted health programme centred around the Jamaican culture was key. “With the digital space, you don’t have the benefit of looking in somebody’s eyes and saying, ‘Let’s go; you can do this’. WellFit is not just any virtual programme. It is a lifestyle programme that still connects with people in a meaningful way because that is very important to me,” she said.

WellFit links culture, health and fitness. “It’s been a beautiful journey of showcasing the Jamaican culture, with people who love it from all over the world. This is where my destiny [is] because in every crevice and corner of the world, there is somebody (or many bodies) that feel connected to Jamaica, and they aren’t normally able to get a Jamaican experience in the context of health, fitness and wellness. And that is our mission at WellFit: to deliver a world-class product to people all over the world that is rooted in the culture of Jamaica,” she said.

Having had immense success over the past year with membership increasing every month, McDonald recently brokered a partnership with Canopy Insurance. She told The Sunday Gleaner that the union is expected to usher Jamaicans into a more holistic lifestyle. “The CEO of Canopy Insurance, he and I went to college together at Stanford University, and he reached out to me maybe a year before WellFit was born and was telling me (even before his company [was] fully launched to the public) about the need to create a programme that will provide people with preventative healthcare. He felt like that was something that was missing in the health insurance market,” she said. “We had a very long chat around sick care versus healthcare and decided that instead of a health insurance company that’s only filling prescriptions and paying for doctor’s visits, what about the things before you get to that sick state.” She added, “When you think about what we battle within Jamaica in terms of non-communicable diseases, these are things [that] are riding our nation’s people, but are related to lifestyle.”

McDonald said attention should be paid to preventative care. “Everybody pressure high and dem go doctor go get dem pills when really what we should be focusing on is a consciousness on how to change your lifestyle so that you are preventing yourself from getting these things in the first place,” she said.

Under the partnership, Canopy Insurance’s 38,000 members will have full access to the “brand new state-of-the-art virtual fitness studio, where they can save and organise their favourite workouts, access cooking and nutrition sessions, join live classes, get access to the WellFit library of recipes, monthly challenges and be held accountable for their nutrition, fitness and overall wellness goals”.

The new phase of WellFit was launched last Friday, and a free seven-day trial has been opened to all members of the public. Interested persons are asked to visit the WellFit website for more details.

McDonald said WellFit is much more than a gym. “We really believe that this is something special. It’s not just a gym. We have our seven pillars of wellness: Move Well, Eat Well, Drink Well, Sleep Well, Rest Well, Feel Well and Live Well and we will be emphasising the importance of all of those things,” she said.