Women In Wellness: Jules Willcocks of ‘Body Ballancer’ on the Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing
Just breathe — Breathing helps move our lymphatic fluid and increases the elimination of toxins and waste. All you need to do is breathe deeply in through the nose and hold for four counts, then exhale through the mouth for two counts. Repeat two or three times several times a day. You can do this either sitting or lying down. As you get better at this, you can increase the time — for example breathe in for a count of five, hold for a count of 15 and
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jules Willcocks, founder of Body Ballancer® — a versatile, relaxing yet revitalizing compression therapy system designed to specifically target the body’s lymphatic system to help promote better holistic health and wellbeing.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
Wellness hasn’t been my first and only career. In fact, I only started working in this industry in my fifties. Looking back I now realize that the career change started after I was introduced to lymphatic drainage massage. Back in 2014, I had my first treatment on the recommendation of a friend who raved about the amazing results she was experiencing as a result of this little-known form of massage. Within a matter of weeks of trying it for myself, I noticed a significant improvement in my body shape and tone as well as my overall state of health.
Amazed by the results, I decided to make it my mission to spread greater awareness of lymphatic health and champion the benefits of lymphatic massage. In March 2017, I gave up my 30-year career as a business consultant and committed to re-training as an MLD (manual lymphatic drainage) therapist.
In June that year, a chance encounter with a Body Ballancer® system whilst on holiday in Spain opened up a whole new world of possibilities. Once back in the UK, I immediately contacted the distributor and less than six months later, Body Ballancer Systems UK Ltd was born.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
When I started Body Ballancer, it never really occurred to me that there could be a consumer market for the product. The system is an expensive piece of equipment with an entry point cost of several thousands of pounds, so not a purchase you would necessarily make on a whim. As a result, all my business modeling focused solely on B2B. Even when the very first two sales were made to consumers, I just considered them a bit of a fluke. Just over two years in and with approximately 45% of sales now going to private individuals without any marketing effort, incredibly the penny still refused to drop.
Then along came the first lock-down and the entire B2B part of the business disappeared overnight. Orders were canceled, and prospects evaporated. Suddenly the consumer market was not just a lucrative side-line, it became critical to the survival of the business.
I immediately invested in an extensive social media advertising campaign and lead generation project and repurposed my demo stock to a home loan model; all PR became focused on promoting the Body Ballancer as the ‘Spa quality treatment you can have at home’. As a result, we had some fabulous reviews in Vogue, The Daily Telegraph, Mail Online and Luxury Lifestyle magazine to name just a few.
I am just concluding my third year in business and to my surprise, it has been the best yet. Eighty percent of my business has been generated by consumer sales and it shows no signs of slowing down. Luckily the green shoots of recovery are starting to show in our B2B market too, and I now have a firm and definite focus on both.
All this has shown me that confirmation bias is very real and should be guarded against. All along I simply looked for information and data that supported my belief that this was a strictly business-only product, and ignoring or otherwise explaining away anything to the contrary. I am now much more assiduous about challenging my own views and seek out the opinions of others before making any significant business decisions.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The original business model for the Body Ballancer was going to be what we called ‘Pay Per Use’ (PPU). Under this model, businesses would be given the Body Balllancer completely free of charge, but would pay us a cut of the revenue it generated. We would invest heavily in marketing and PR to increase awareness and therefore footfall into these businesses, thus helping them to drive up revenue.
A fabulous new revenue stream for putting absolutely no money down. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, it is the truest thing that something that costs nothing will have very little value to those in possession of it. We very quickly discovered that our beloved Body Ballancer would be languishing in a cold, dark room whilst all the marketing and promotional effort of these businesses would go on the £80,000 piece of equipment they had just bought and needed to secure their return on investment on pronto!
Luckily we had decided to run a ‘proof of concept’ for the PPU model, limited to 10–12 machines, and the fatal flaw was spotted after only seven had been rolled out. We quickly pivoted to a transactional sales model, using our PPU stock to great effect as demonstration and sales stock, and haven’t looked back since.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
This is a really tricky question as there are so many people who have influenced my career and helped me achieve the success I’ve had. My honest response is the blend of having had the pleasure and luck of working with a lot of really amazing people, and the frustration of working with some really awful individuals in my 35-year career gave me the drive and determination to get me to the point where I was fortunate enough to set up Body Ballancer three years ago.
Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
So as mentioned earlier, the Body Ballancer is a unique system that provides a fully automatic lymphatic massage to ultimately aid better lymphatic health.
The lymphatic system sits alongside the body’s cardiovascular system, quietly helping to look after our health. The reason the lymphatic system is so important is because it performs three critical functions:
- It supports the immune system by removing toxins, dead blood cells, pathogens and other waste.
- It helps the body absorb fats and fat-soluble vitamins from the digestive system, delivering these nutrients to cells where they’re used as fuel.
- It removes excess fluid — known as ‘lymph’ — and waste products from the spaces between the cells and organs of the body.
If a healthy lymphatic system becomes compromised due to illness or a poor lifestyle, this can lead to a range of issues, including tissue swelling, poor skin tone, excess weight, cellulite, headaches, joint pain, fatigue and greater susceptibility to illness.
Though the lymphatic system and the benefits of lymphatic massage are widely recognized by doctors in many parts of Eastern Europe, South America and the Far East for the important role they play in preventive health care and a healthy immune system, it’s still relatively unknown in the UK and US. Thanks to a slew of celebrity fans both in the States and the UK such as Jennifer Aniston, Chrissy Teigen, and Lady Gaga, awareness is starting to grow but in my opinion not quickly enough; the secret is still very much in the bag. Having personally experienced the benefits of lymphatic massage I felt so passionately about raising awareness that I gave up a very comfortable and successful career as a business consultant to do just that.
At Body Ballancer we feel it’s not just important to promote the benefits of our massage system, we believe we have a duty to educate more people on how they can promote better lymphatic health. As a result we do all we can to share useful resources, as well as advice and tips on simple lifestyle choices people can make regardless of whether they have access to our systems or lymphatic massage treatments.
We’ve worked with several celebrities and influencers in the past 18 months to help drive education and better understanding of lymphatic health too, and are planning to run a big awareness campaign with health and wellbeing experts across broadcast channels in early 2021 to bring the topic to the masses.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
There are countless lifestyle tweaks on everything to diet to simple exercises you can do to ensure a healthier and happier lymphatic system. We share these hacks regularly on our social pages and website but for the readers of Authority here’s my top five:
1. Get active — If you fancy a bit of fresh air then gardening, walking (especially brisk walking while swinging your arms), jogging, or cycling are all perfect forms of exercise to liven your lymphatic system up. Simple activities such as dancing to your favorite songs, climbing stairs, and performing household chores is enough to get the lymphatic system moving.
2. Stand tall — Stretching also promotes muscle movement. Particularly useful are stretches that focus on the neck and shoulders. Neck rolls, head tilts, shoulder rolls and shoulder shrugs are four very simple but effective stretches for boosting lymphatic flow in this area.
3. Just breathe — Breathing helps move our lymphatic fluid and increases the elimination of toxins and waste. All you need to do is breathe deeply in through the nose and hold for four counts, then exhale through the mouth for two counts. Repeat two or three times several times a day. You can do this either sitting or lying down. As you get better at this, you can increase the time — for example breathe in for a count of five, hold for a count of 15 and exhale for a count of 10.
4. Zone out — Stress is one of the major causes of poor lymphatic health as it leads to an increase in the production of the hormone cortisol, which is known to affect lymphatic flow. Activities such as meditation, yoga, Pilates, practicing mindfulness and getting plenty of rest are key to combating stress and anxiety.
5. Brush it better — Dry skin brushing is a great way to release toxins by stimulating the tiny lymphatic vessels that sit just below the skin. Best done first thing in the morning before showering, begin with the soles of the feet and brush with upward strokes as you move up the legs and towards the heart. Use the same method on your upper body, beginning with the hands up your arms. The routine should take you no more than 5–10 minutes. For best results, look to repeat 3–5 times a week.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I’ve set myself the mission of doing the same job of promoting better awareness of lymphatic health as we see now around digestive health. Five years ago talking honestly and openly about your gut, bowels and digestive health just wasn’t the done thing. It was deeply ‘unsexy’ and hugely embarrassing. People suffered terribly in silence or ignorance because the conversations just weren’t happening and the information wasn’t there for them to access.
Fast forward to the past few years and the understanding and awareness of intolerances and how that can impact your gut health is astounding. It’s now not only the norm for people to talk openly about their gut health, but as a result both the medical and corporate world have responded by providing products and services that make it possible for people to take better care of their gut health ultimately resulting in healthy, happier individuals.
I truly believe taking better care of our lymphatic health is the new frontier of health and wellbeing as it provides so many holistic benefits from boosting your immune system, to fight off infections and speeding up healing and recovery from illness, to reducing water retention, aiding better digestion and promoting better sleep. Lymphatic massage can also aid faster muscle recovery post workout, and aesthetically It can also improve the appearance of cellulite and poor skin tone.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
1. It really REALLY is not enough to just have a great product.
Just because it is obvious to you that your product is a game-changing-world-beating miracle invention very few people will be on the same page as you — and this is especially true when your product is new to the market. You have to work hard and work consistently to change this and it can be a lonely and demoralising experience. Passion gets you through.
2. The importance of social media
It is true to say that I was a complete social media Luddite. I had a Linked-In profile that was nothing more than an electronic CV. I viewed platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with the utmost suspicion and frankly never went near them.
How things have changed in three short years. It has taken a while, but I now know that social media, if used properly, can make or break a business in terms of brand recognition and communication. It’s not a fad or a gimmick. It’s real and it’s here to stay.
3. Instinct is good, but due diligence is better
This is still a work in progress for me, but I have had enough experience now to stop myself from making impulsive decisions because I take an immediate shine to a person, product or situation. Too many hasty decisions taken in the start-up years can very easily destroy a fledgling business. More often than not I now have a couple of ‘sleeps’ on it. It takes a lot of willpower on my part but more often than not I’m glad I hung fire.
4. External advice is critical
I don’t just mean from professionals such as lawyers and accountants, but the ‘man or woman in the street’ who are simply not as obsessed with your product and/or business as you. It is far too easy for your utter love and devotion to lead you into very dangerous territory as it can make you blind or dismissive to the weaknesses and threats that are really obvious to others.
5. You will be living on savings for much longer than you think
I reckoned on 12 months tops. Now over 3 years in I’m still living on my savings. Would it have made a difference to my decision to start Body Ballancer? Absolutely not, because I simply wouldn’t have believed it. And anyway, it’s going to change any minute now. I’m almost sure of it…
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Without a shadow of a doubt I think mental health and stress is a topic we need to do more about. Even though it’s talked about more openly by everyone from celebrities to the royal family, there is still so much stigma attached to mental health that we need to address.
Stress and anxiety and the knock on effect on our mental health and wellbeing was endemic in society before COVID-19 hit, and I think an issue that will only be exacerbated by lockdowns, the isolation for some of working from home as well as anxiety over the pandemic, the economy and resulting job insecurity that comes with that. I think we’ll feel the impact of that for a long time after the peak of the crisis so the more we can do to prepare for that now, the better for the greater good.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Thank you for these fantastic insights!