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Nikki Rees

Nikki Rees on running a healthy business

By Nikki Rees

Managing Director, ReesLeisure

The Managing Director of ReesLeisure is a proud champion of sport inclusivity, driven from personal experience and community pride.

Through a sibling business partnership, ReesLeisure advocates inclusive health and wellbeing through its celebrated sporting events including the ABP Southampton Marathon, Winchester Triathlon, Southampton Sporterium, and through its Wessex Swim School.

In the month that sees the launch of Southampton Sailing Week at the Old Bond Store, Nikki shares her how the company values are reflected in her own.

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What first sparked your interest in health and wellbeing?

When I joined ReesLeisure, I was five stone heavier than I am now, I was inspired by our participants and their amazing stories and transformations, not just physically but for their mental health. I wanted to be an advocate of that nature and become the same inspiration. I lost weight through half marathons and cycling; it's about putting your health at the top of the priority list.

What do you think is unique about being in business with a sibling?

We share our thoughts and ideas but also have somebody else to make the difficult decisions with. We have this connection where we can be in meetings, look at each other and have a conversation without saying anything. Knowing what the other one is thinking is useful in a business context.

We have two very different working styles. Chris is big picture thinking, fantastic at pulling things together and selling the ideas. I'm the details person and keep driving things forward day to day, so between us we make the perfect partnership.

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"We try and make sure that exercise and wellbeing is a key focus, because we’re all aware of how much that affects your mental health and translates into your working environment."

What benefits can health and wellbeing in the workplace bring to a business?

In my previous job in London, I was putting pressure on myself to work to the bone and I wasn’t doing anything outside of work.

I’m now very happy where I am. We try and make sure that exercise and wellbeing is a key focus, because we’re all aware of how much that affects your mental health and translates into your working environment. The healthier and happier you are as a person, the better and more productive you are at work.

What impact do you think social media is having on peoples’ health and wellbeing?

I think it’s a mixed bag, you can focus on the negatives and it can result in body shaming or young people being influenced by what they think they should look like or do.

But it can have a positive effect as well. Through our running events, there’s an amazing community that’s built up, people from all over the country who are encouraging and supporting each other and asking advice from others with a wealth of experience. I choose to focus on the positive aspects but there are some perils we need to avoid as well.

"The Old Bond Store is the first space of its kind outside of London, there isn't anything like this in the whole country."

Liam Doe, Old Bond Store

How would you measure success for both yourself and for your business?

ReesLeisure’s goal is utilising the local environment to benefit the community’s health, wealth and wellbeing.

I view my success in the same way, I’m a happier person when I have community around me, when I’m using my local environment to go for runs or cycle rides to enjoy the beauty around me. As a business we try to encourage the local community to do that and come together to build a great Southampton spirit. Personally, my success is closely linked to the same aims and goals of the business because I know that works and makes me happy.

Do you have a proudest moment in your journey?

The proudest moment is at every events when the last competitor finishes, you get a surge of pride in yourself and in the city because everyone who’s involved in the events and has been cheering all day gives extra effort for that last person crossing the line. It makes you proud because we’ve helped bring people together to support each other, which is important.

In a stressful environment such as organising major events, how do you maintain perspective and balance?

I overthink things because I’m a natural planner. Sometimes I need to take myself away. The Old Bond Store helps with that because I can remove myself from the details and take it up a level to focus on the overall strategy, to get a better perspective and just concentrate and focus.