Suffering from back pain in her 20’s Jos found relief by using Essentrics®. This led her to leave the corporate life and eventually setting up Essentrics® with Jos in Hong Kong, becoming the first certified Essentrics® instructor in South East Asia.
What’s your story?
I grew up in Holland and studied in the UK. I worked as a chartered accountant in financial services in the UK and Hong Kong for 15 years, before taking a career break and eventually starting my business – Essentrics® with Jos.
In my late 20’s I was constantly suffering from lower-back pain and was eventually diagnosed with a slipped disc. All but one of the doctors I saw told me I needed surgery to relieve the pain. I rejected the surgery option and embarked on a long course of intensive (expensive!) physiotherapy and eventually, I became largely pain-free. However, it was the discovery of Essentrics® that has enabled me to manage my back problem on an ongoing basis.
Essentrics® is a dynamic stretching and strengthening exercise, originally developed in Canada. I tried my first Essentrics® class on a trip to Europe in 2014. I simply loved it! I could immediately feel that my back felt looser and I could walk taller. I raved about it to my friends when I got back to Hong Kong. And I’ve been practising Essentrics®, and feeling the benefits of it, ever since!
In 2015 I took the plunge and left the comfy corporate life, and eventually set up Essentrics® with Jos in Hong Kong, having become the first certified Essentrics® instructor in South East Asia.
What excites you most about your industry?
I am directly contributing to the peoples’ wellbeing. As cliche as it may sound, I know I am making a difference.
The health and wellness industry has grown significantly in Asia over the last 5 years. People are eating more consciously, doing more exercise and taking better care of themselves. This has lead to many opportunities in the health and wellness industry. There are so many different types of fitness and exercise programmes in Hong Kong – there is something out there that suits everybody’s needs.
“Dynamic stretching and strengthening” perhaps doesn’t sound as mystical or trendy as some yoga or intense cardio programme out on the market But recent research shows to help maintain our health as we age, we need to do more activities that improve strength, mobility and balance. With an ageing population, I’m really excited about the future possibilities for Essentrics®!
What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in the Netherlands, but my parents are from Hong Kong. We used to come to Hong Kong every summer holiday. At the back of my mind it had always been my plan to move to Hong Kong in my mid-20s. And, after a few years of experience working in London, I followed my dream and duly arrived in Hong Kong at the age of 26!
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong because it is full of opportunities, and people are always willing to try something new. It’s a city that is very trend-driven. If you can catch the trend early enough, you can make the most of the business opportunity. I speak the language, so I’m treated like a local although that’s not strictly true!
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Don’t regret anything you’ve done, and don’t regret anything you didn’t do. Make the most of every opportunity you get in life, and try everything you want to try. Once you’ve tried it don’t look back and regret it because that is just a waste of time. We live and we learn. Every experience makes us into who we are.
Who inspires you?
Miranda-Esmonde White, Founder of Essentrics® and author of New York Times bestseller “Aging Backwards” Miranda developed this great dynamic stretching and strengthening programme that has benefitted so many people across the world. She has inspired so many people with no prior fitness background, like myself, to want to become certified Essentrics® instructors so they can share this workout with even more people. Miranda is now 69 years old, and has survived breast cancer and she is as fit as a fiddle. She’s living proof that if you stick to doing the right type of exercises as you age, then age is really just a number.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Starting from the age of 30, the average person who does a minimum amount of daily exercise and has a semi-sedentary lifestyle loses an average of 7% of muscle mass per decade. On the other hand, an active person who performs regular exercise using the entirety of their musculature system loses an average of 2% of muscle mass per decade.
Therefore a semi-sedentary person at the age 60 would have approximately 75% of muscle mass remaining compared to a physically active 60 year old who has approximately 92% of muscle mass remaining.
We all have a choice on how we want to age.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have been more aware of my bad posture. Before I suffered from my slipped disc in 2008, I had very little knowledge about spine health and the need to maintain good posture. Having to deal with chronic back pain was very debilitating during my mid-twenties. I felt much older than my physical age. But then again if it wasn’t for my lower back pain I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now. So no regrets.
How do you unwind?
I find baking a great mindfulness activity. Whenever I have the time, I search for a recipe I have never tried before, turn the oven on, weigh out the ingredients, carry out my chemistry experiment and look forward to my little treat at the end of it.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Vietnam – a lot of people find the Vietnamese cities very noisy and chaotic, but somehow my husband and I manage to find calm amongst the chaos. Since my first visit in 2008, I think we’ve been 12 times! The food is delicious, and the people are friendly. There’s nothing better than sitting at a small road side cafe enjoying a strong Vietnamese cà phê. Oh, and I’ve had the best omelette in the world in Hanoi!
Everyone in business should read this book:
“Hiding in the Bathroom” by Morra Aarons-Mele
Maybe not for everyone, but if there are any introverted entrepreneurs out there, then this book is for you.
Shameless plug for your business:
The Essentrics® technique:
a full body workout that rapidly changes the shape of your body through a dynamic and fluid combination of strengthening and stretching. The technique develops lean, strong and flexible muscles with immediate changes to your posture. The program rebalances the body, prevents and treats injuries and unlocks tight joints. I want to share Essentrics® with as many people as I can in Hong Kong and Asia so that they can feel the same benefits as I do!
I don’t have one, but you can find me on Instagram @essentricswithjos
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started,
built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.