Rising from the rubble


Business is bouncing back for a Queenstown weight-loss clinic owner after she was almost derailed by the Christchurch earthquake. 

Kathy Nicol expanded to Christchurch not long after setting up her Cohen’s Lifestyle Clinic in Queenstown in 2009. 

This year, after securing the New Zealand licence, she was establishing an Auckland clinic when her Christchurch premises were wiped out in the massive February quake. 

“I lost everything – I probably had only about $20,000 in earthquake insurance.” 

Nicol, 39, says she didn’t qualify for Government assistance despite employing seven staff in Christchurch and spending four days there every week, because she didn’t live there. 

“It was pretty tough – I could have lost all three clinics.” 

Nicol, however, reopened her Christchurch clinic in a new location six weeks after the quake. 

Business, she says, has gone “ballistic” since featuring in a two-page spread in women’s magazine New Idea a month ago. 

A Christchurch radio station was also promoting her programme – “two DJs there lost five and a half kilos in the first week”. 

Nicol’s come a long way for someone who used to feel “invisible” because she weighed so much. 

After she got to 111kg, despite being active and starving herself, the mum-of-three saw an item on TV3’s Campbell Live about a Perth hormone clinic that designed fast-acting weight-loss plans based on clients’ blood chemistry. 

Nicol signed on as a client with Cohen’s Lifestyle Clinic in Sydney and lost 40kg in 21 weeks. 

That inspired her to secure the South Island licence for the clinic, which originally started in South Africa 35 years ago. 

Having survived two years in business – and the Christchurch quake – Nicol is confident she’ll succeed. 

So far her clinics have signed up well over 1000 clients – courses cost $995, including six months’ ongoing support. 

“The wellness industry is taking off around the world because it’s natural,” Nicol says. 

“There’s no pills or shakes or junk, just normal food.” 

And the secret to her business, which now employs 12 consultants over three clinics? 

“I think it’s the fact the girls I employ have all done the programme – they’re as passionate about it as I am.”