Wellness experts: Diet, exercise aren’t whole picture


OnSite Wellness co-owners Amy Ritsema, left, and Mary Kline saw revenue of $1.2 million in 2016. Photo by Johnny Quirin

When Amy Ritsema and Mary Kline started their wellness company 10 years ago, the industry was relatively new and mainly focused on diet and exercise.

Now, the name of the game has become relationship building and seeing each person as a person, not just a number on the scale.

OnSite Wellness is located at 3020 Charlevoix Drive SE, Suite 2, in Grand Rapids and saw revenue of $1.2 million in 2016. The company offers customized wellness strategies to improve employee well-being to organizations throughout Michigan and the Midwest, from small family businesses to large corporations.

Ritsema and Kline aim to position their company for a new level of partnerships and revenue streams, which is why they recently applied for and received their Women’s Business Enterprise Certification (WBEC) through the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).

The certification designates OnSite Wellness as a 100-percent women-owned company.

Achieving their WBEC means top-tier businesses, such as automakers, may take a second look at using OnSite as a wellness vendor. And a big part of that is because the certification represents diversity.

“The main thing it does is diversity has become such a large part of what organizations are looking for. So what this does is currently we work in the small- to mid-size market, and you don’t see a need for a certification like this in the small-market world. But once you get into mid-sized to big companies, they’ll have standards that say, 10 percent of our business needs to go to minority- or women-owned businesses,” Ritsema said.

“So, I’m hoping this will open the door for us for future clients.”

Like other wellness companies, OnSite’s exercise scientists, nutritionists and health experts provide wellness and work-site coaching. Its wellness programs include preventive screenings, nutrition tracking, personal training, industrial stretching, physical health classes, lifestyle coaching, tobacco cessation and stress management.

Kline and Ritsema said one trend they are seeing in the industry is a focus more on lifestyle factors that affect health, rather than just the numbers.

“Things like stress, things like financial wellness and all those different stressors are just as important to health as controlling your blood pressure and weight,” Kline said.

Added Ritsema: “Companies are coming back to what’s good for people, and they’re not focusing so much on insurance discounts and disease management. They’re starting to realize that relationships and one-on-one time and time on location are really what are going to help.

“The soft side of wellness is just as important as the medical makeup of wellness.”

One of the challenges industry-wide, Ritsema said, is for organizations to make sure they are finding the right wellness partner for their needs.

“A challenge for companies who are thinking about wellness solutions in their organization is really finding the best fit … as far as are they going to use a wellness vendor or are they going to do it in-house? There are federal rules involved when it comes to putting incentives in place. So, it’s meeting the needs of the employees and of the organization but also making sure it’s federally compliant,” she said.

“So, the challenge is because wellness is a fairly new industry — it’s really only been around for about 30 years — there are a lot of people jumping in the game. From a company standpoint, it’s important to vet those vendors and make sure you get a good custom solution for your needs.”

Ritsema said companies should consider two main things before they contract with a wellness provider:

“One thing to think about when putting a wellness solution in place is, ‘What are your goals?’ That is the first thing I ask a potential client. ‘Where do you want this to go? Why are you doing wellness?’ Have some long-term goals and objectives. If you just want to throw noodles against the wall and see if they stick, it’s not going to be really effective.

“The other thing I would highly encourage any organization to think about is what kind of executive and management support they have for that. … Make sure you get buy-in from the executive level and middle-management levels, or it won’t be successful.”

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