When the demands of work and family life wore Annabel Berry down earlier this year, she knew she had to start prioritising her health and wellbeing like never before.

Now, the Oamaru businesswoman wants to help others do the same.

Mrs Berry opened a new women’s wellness space in Oamaru last month. Belamour – a combination of Mrs Berry’s name and l’amour, French for love – is in the Design Federation building in Thames St, and offers yoga, pilates and strength and core classes.

The space will also be used for workshops and seminars for women.

Mrs Berry said she had a “revelation” earlier this year, while on holiday in Otematata.

“I woke up and I was in a blind panic. I was so stressed,” she said.

“I said to [husband] Simon my bags and just came home and sat down and went God, I’ve got to change my life because I’m such a wreck’.”

As a working mother, Mrs Berry, who owns Design Federation and is the founder of the Oamaru Business Collective, said she always felt guilty that she was “not doing everything right”.

Annabel Berry

“You never feel right working and being a mum,” she said.

But stepping back from work and community involvement had never sat well with her.

“I couldn’t do that . . . my family is my heart, but what I do and who I am is my soul.

“So I wrote down a plan, looking at nutrition, exercise and health.

“My big thing was taking health from the bottom of my priority list to the top.”

When she started looking into what women’s wellness services were available in Oamaru, she saw a huge gap in the market. During lockdown, she started thinking about opening her own women’s wellness space in the North Otago town.

Mrs Berry said there were three aspects to Belamour – mind, body and power.

“There’s so much going on and I just want this to be a place where you can come and just chill.

“[Women can] come here to re-energise, to have some calm, to leave their busy lives and come here and do something for themselves.”

Chill-out space . . . Anna Hopkins leads a pilates class at Belamour.

She has started with a small schedule of yoga, pilates and strength and core classes, taken by Ashley Smyth, Anna Hopkins and Jared Whitburn respectively. She was also planning on hosting guest speakers and seminars at Belamour, relating to women’s wellness, entrepreneurship and to help encourage more women into leadership roles.

“I want to get the best here, so we can learn from the best and do some really epic things.

“I think we need more female voices around the table, and I want to encourage entrepreneurship as well, assisting people with setting up business and any woman who wants to expand their idea into a potential business opportunity.

“I think there’s a real gap in learning and education, in terms of teaching young women that entrepreneurship, starting a business and leadership are all really viable options. I want to do courses and training in that as well.”

Mrs Berry said she got a lot of joy out of bringing people together.

“There are great people here, and it’s just getting those people together.

“You end up learning from and supporting each other.

“We can do anything here [in Oamaru]. We can achieve anything.”

There were also opportunities to tap into the wellness tourism industry, which was growing around the world, supported by travellers actively seeking ways to enhance their wellbeing on the go, she said.

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