May 15, 2021
Back At It Sports & Wellness was established in 2005, and it used to be a mobile service for events and races to treat athletes. The business has grown to now include 3 clinics: 1 in Banff, and 2 in Canmore. We had a chance to speak with founder and business owner Vanessa Joosten about the company, effects of the pandemic, and ways that the Bow Valley community has come together during the past year.
When you think of a massage clinic, what comes to mind? For Vanessa, the Back At It vision is unique in many ways. The clinic has a therapeutic approach to deep tissue massage rather than being a spa. Therapists are all highly qualified, and staff take courses to further their knowledge and expertise even further. Vanessa hires therapists that are very talented and personable, so that any client can book an appointment and know that they will get the highest level treatment possible no matter who they see. Clients receive holistic treatment, which focuses on creating healthy habits for the whole body, rather than restricting things like diet. This holistic approach also includes addressing individual needs for recovery from injuries, while working with the client to prevent future injuries from occurring as well.
Vanessa is passionate about her business, mainly due to the deep connections she has made with clients. Many locals visit her clinics, and people who visit once often come back for more. You can see the care and attention to detail that Vanessa has created in all three clinics. As soon as you walk in, the calming atmosphere is relaxing and comforting. Not to mention the decor is very visually appealing! Clients get to spend anywhere from 30-90 minutes receiving treatment with no distractions, and get to connect with their massage therapists on a deeper level. Staff are hired based on personability, and clients definitely appreciate the relatable and friendly staff at Back At It Wellness.
At Back At It Wellness, staff take the health of themselves and their clients very seriously. During the 1st wave of shut downs, Vanessa began immediately trying to find ways to keep clients and staff safe. By the time that restrictions had eased and the clinics could re-open, Vanessa had created workplace safety policies that went above and beyond the government regulations. She firmly believes that doing the minimum is not enough, and in order to keep everyone safe there needs to be transparency and strong leadership. Staff wear PPE, disinfect frequently, and stay in their own treatment rooms so there is minimized contact at the clinic. The staff are also aware that their choices made outside of work (such as social distancing) will greatly impact everyone at the clinic.
There’s a reason why staff retention is so high at Back At It Wellness. Vanessa creates a welcoming and inclusive work environment, and encourages professional development for her staff. For this reason, many staff have gone on to achieve additional qualifications and certifications beyond their RMT education. This positive work environment results in the highest quality care and treatment that every client receives.
Vanessa is amazed at the overwhelming support from clients and other business owners in the Bow Valley. She, in turn, has decided to give back to the community and support businesses that have been hit hard by the pandemic. Vanessa noticed that restaurants have been having a very hard time with restrictions, and has recently bought gift cards from local restaurants, and they are then giving those gift cards to people in need. To support athletes who have not been able to compete, Vanessa is picking 5 athletes who will receive monthly massages for an entire year!
There is an incredible cycle of support within the Bow Valley between all the business owners, as well as the local community. Vanessa is confident that people will continue to look out for each other during this pandemic. Giving shout outs on social media, leaving reviews, or buying gift cards for others are simple ways to show appreciation and support for your favourite local businesses.
Working during this pandemic can be lonely and isolating, especially when staff aren’t allowed to be in close contact with each other. To combat this, Vanessa keeps her staff motivated and focused in some creative ways. During the holidays, she created an advent calendar, and staff received gifts every week, including free massage cards to give to friends or family. To keep staff morale high, Vanessa shares compliments or reviews that clients have left about Back At it. Staff are now participating in a sunflower seed growing competition, which is an awesome way to stay connected with each other while social distancing.
Vanessa wants other business owners to know that it’s okay to ask for help. Her advice for business owners who might be struggling is: be honest and stay true to your vision, reach out to the community, and know that you aren’t alone. There are plenty of people who are willing to lend a helping hand if needed.
by: Annie Vlahiotis