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“It’s been a fantastic three years, yet it feels like we’re only just getting started.”

Paul & Louise O’Connell, founders of Bridge Health & Wellbeing, reflect back as their business celebrates its’ third anniversary.

After months of planning and building work, Bridge Health & Wellbeing opened its doors in July 2019. Founders Paul & Louise O’Connell were excited to bring their physiotherapy and Pilates skills together and create a bespoke, welcoming health and wellbeing clinic which could be at the heart of the local community. A unique space with an integrated approach to healthcare that put clients first.

The clinic, situated on Bridge Street in Christchurch, got off to a good start. Paul’s physiotherapy appointments booked up, and Louise’s Pilates classes proved popular. At the beginning of 2020, they welcomed their first sports massage therapist Ella on board, expanding the range of services on offer.

Then COVID hit, and everything stopped. With their entire family income dependent on their new business, Paul and Louise had to adapt their services, all whilst juggling homeschooling their two young children. Despite worrying times, they transferred to Zoom classes and YouTube treatments and never gave up their dream of running their own business. Reopening later in 2020, the company has been on a rollercoaster since then of reopening and shutdowns, PPE and adjustments.

As the business celebrates its third birthday in 2022, Paul and Louise have been reflecting on the journey.

“It’s been a dramatic first three years for our new business. We knew that the first few years would be tough. But we never expected to be dealing with a global pandemic. Having to shut our doors just seven months after opening was heartbreaking. Our clients have been so supportive throughout, and we have come through it even more determined to support our local community and make our business a success. Despite all the challenges, we’re immensely proud of everything we have achieved.”

They certainly have achieved a lot in just three years. The clinic has grown from a team of just Paul and Louise to a group of multi-skilled experts, including three receptionists, three physiotherapists, three sports massage therapists and a chiropractor. They now offer 20 studio classes a week from a team of six studio instructors. They also work with several local businesses on workplace wellbeing.

Paul and Louise have continued to invest in the clinic facilities, opening up a third treatment room and expanding the rehabilitation gym to include new equipment. They have managed to hold several events, including a yoga wellness workshop, a Sporting Upper Limb Masterclass in March 2022 and an open evening this May.

The business plans more wellness events, workplace wellbeing seminars and further professional development Masterclasses. They are also hoping to welcome a junior physio that can train and develop under Paul’s guidance and continue expanding their range of wellbeing classes.

“We are really looking forward to being able to host more events,” Louise added. “Events were a huge part of our original business plan, to bring people in our local community together to focus on their health and wellbeing. Hopefully, finally(!), we can get started on all those things we wanted to do in the first three years that had to be put on hold due to COVID restrictions.”

Awards have been some of the highlights of the last three years, with Bridge Health & Wellbeing winning Best Family-Run Health & Wellbeing Clinic – UK at the GHP Private Healthcare Awards 2022 and Best New Business at the inaugural Christchurch Business Awards. The company has also been shortlisted in the StartUp Awards, Family Business Awards and Business Leader awards, to name a few.

Let’s hope a calmer few years lie ahead for this dynamic couple.

Bridge Health & Wellbeing is a friendly, family-run clinic in the heart of Christchurch. From their bespoke health and wellbeing clinic on Bridge Street, they offer high-quality physiotherapy, chiropractic, sports massage and rehabilitation treatment, Pilates, yoga, and other studio classes, all under one roof.

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Paul & Louise O'Connell, co-founders of Bridge Health & Wellbeing

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