The two Kiwi mums who are helping other women achieve their health and fitness goals

The women behind the health and wellness platform Real Health NZ tell Monique Mckenzie about their journey of starting a business while being busy mums.

Real Health NZ is helping hundreds of Kiwi women achieve their health, fitness and wellness goals from the comfort of their living room, and is owned by Renee Norman and Jenna Smith who both hold qualifications in sports science, personal training and health coaching.

When you start up a business, you’ve got to have passion.

Renee and Jenna say they are lucky to love what they do and the women they work with.

“When it comes to owning your own business, you have to love it to the point where you wake up every day, or in the middle of the night, with a new idea and feel passionate about it,” says Renee.

“Days often merge together and weekends sometimes don’t feel like weekends – you can’t just walk out the door and forget it – so you have to have a huge passion for what you are working towards. In saying that, passion will only get you so far in business; you also need to have a bloody good work ethic.”

Launched in October 2016, the business came about for two reasons: the first being the duo’s passion for fitness, all things wellness and helping women make lifestyle choices to feel their best selves.

“The second was frustration with the fitness and diet industry,” Jenna explains.

“Something we both found when working in gyms was that many women felt threatened about walking into a gym. While they can be a really great empowering place for some, for many of the women we came across the thought of the gym was pretty scary! Loads of equipment, long mirrors and the feeling of ‘am I doing it right?'”

Renee and Jenna say that they saw the same with nutrition.

“Many of our clients told us they also felt overwhelmed when it came to food with so many diets, trends, fads and unsustainable quick fixes out there. We had seen many women spend hundreds of dollars and repeat the vicious cycle of starting a diet, falling off the wagon and starting again.

“We wanted to create something simple that reminded women to get back to basics in the kitchen and encouraged fun ways to get active.”

One important lesson the friends have learned about running their own business is taking imperfect action.

“For too long we tried to make everything perfect. Now with two toddlers, two babies and a growing business, we don’t have the time to check everything 10 times. We trust that each other will do our jobs 100 per cent.

“Another lesson is you can’t do it all yourself! Initially, to keep our costs down, we literally did everything ourselves, but now we are in a position to outsource some of our behind-the-scenes work and we are proud to have a small team that makes life so much easier.”

To look after their own wellbeing, Renee and Jenna both practise what they preach.

“We move daily – we always say to our clients ‘something is always better than nothing’ when it comes to exercise and we truly live by that! Some days it’s a walk with the stroller, other days it’s a sweat-dripping workout.

When it comes to nutrition, we are big believers in the 80/20 approach. It’s what you do every day that matters, not what you do every once in a while. Life is too short not to enjoy cake at a party and a glass of wine on a Friday evening. It’s all about balance.”

“We’ve grown the business by realising each other’s strengths,” they say.

“After spending three years working in each other’s pockets we know each other very well. We both have very different strengths – we know who is good at what, and we capitalise on each other’s ‘genius’ zones.”

Renee and Jenna are still trying to work out balance when it comes to switching off and unwinding.

“When you want a business to work you do need to spend hours behind the computer, but our family and our friendship is absolutely number one.

We do have a few tricks up our sleeve to manage it all, such as no emails or client contact after 5pm.”

The biggest challenge the pair have faced in business is becoming new mums.

“While we knew we wanted to have families, we didn’t think or plan to have our children at exactly the same time – both times round!

While we would be lying if we said it hasn’t been a challenge, it has worked out rather well. It takes a village and we are each other’s. We both understand that some days we will be productive and some days we won’t,” says Jenna.

“The greatest thing about running our own business is flexibility – not having to fit into the traditional 9-5 is awesome,” tells Renee.

“It’s also great to have your own business with a young family. Yes, it’s hard but it means we get to keep learning and developing our skill-sets.”

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