Staying The Health Course

They’ve defied the odds and come out strong to make a mark in Kashmir. Tasavur Mushtaq reports on one family’s commitment towards complete wellbeing.

Beauty, some say, is not just skin deep. That is perhaps the philosophy that Jameed Ahmad Lone and his familyhave had when venturing into business—first with a salon, and now, with Kashmir’s first comprehensive wellness center.

For the past six years, Lone and his two sons—Tahir and Aashiq, have been running the popular salon L’Or?al- The Makeover in Karan Nagar. They set up the business after Aashiq’spositive experience withL’Or?alwhile working as a model. “Jimmy (Aashiq) has a few appearances in movies and TV serials while he was working as a model with L’Oreal from 2001 to 2005,” says his elder brother Tahir.

In 2005, Aashiq came back to Kashmir with an idea, discussed it with his family, and finally established L’Or?al-The Makeover salon. “All our professionals are from L’Or?al,” says Tahir. The Lone family has been in this business for six years, and recently thought of diversifying. They say their main reason for branching out was that many in city had taken up the same line of business. “In Kashmir we have herd behavior, so we thought to diversify,” Tahir says.

As they mulled over what was the best path for expansion, they decided to explore innovations in healthcare. They believe the longstanding conflict in Kashmir has had a negative effect on people’s health and wellbeing—with several Kashmiris not engaging in fitness routines, and many more in depression.“We have no [leisure] activity in the valley which is one of the causes of depression,” Tahirsays.

 And so the Lone family decided to play their part in giving a new lease of life to people.

It took them a year to conduct a detailed survey of the leading wellness centers of India. Picking the best aspects of technology and practice from everywhere, they formulated their plan of action, and customized for Kashmir.

“We analyzed Kashmiri requirements, and found people are suffering immensely from anxiety, depression and continuous shutdowns,” Tahir said.

Blending the results from surveys of Kashmiris, and the standards of established institutions, the Lone family created a complete wellness center, in the newly constructed 7 Square Mall in Hyderpora.

The Wellness Center is spread over 10,000 square feet, and the family plans on expanding it twice its size in the coming months. The Center’s cardio equipment is from Apex, and their strength equipment is from Techno Gym of Italy. The total investment in the project is around Rs. 1.5 crore. To finance the project, the family went to JKBank. They are all praise for the support JK Bank, particularly the bank head, has given them. “We are grateful to the Jammu & Kashmir Bank. Really, it is our bank,” says Tahir.

The Wellness Center’s gym is one among the high end ones in North India. “We are happy that we are of this standard,” Tahir said. Commenting on the facilities, a visitor from Australia has said, “This is wonderful.”

The physical instructors at the gym, men and women, are from outside the state. The Center also has a yoga trainer, physiotherapists and a dietician. Being the first of its kind in the valley, it also has an entire division dedicated to saunas and spas. The trailblazer business also has its own juice bar, where energy rich drinks are served.

The timings are different for men and women.For women, the gym is open from 10 am to 5pm, whereas for men, it is open from 6 am to 10 am, and 5 pm to 11:30 pm. In the next few months, the owners plan on having the gym open 24 hours.

They have also arranged a hostel in Hyderpora to accommodate their staff, and have a pick up and drop off facility for them. Entry and exit of members is recorded and timings are strictly maintained. “We have ensured proper discipline here,” says Tahir.

So far, feedback has been positive. Although it is yet to be formally inaugurated, The Wellness Center already has 25 members. There are different membership levels, and the most popular so far has been to pay Rs 10,000—out of which Rs. 6,500 is registration fee, and Rs 3,500 is the monthly fee. Another membership plan requires Rs 23,000 as registrationand Rs 10,000 as the monthly payment. Lifetime membership is for Rs. 50,000 with a monthly fee of Rs 1500.

The Lone family says they are happy to be trendsetters for positive development in the state. “Just look at how many of our youth are drug addicts. Body building is also an addiction, but a positive one,” Tahir said.
“We have changed the thinking. As Harbhajan did by opening a salon in Punjab,” Tahir says witha smile.

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