porti_virgin“In line with Sir Richard Branson’s outstanding support for world AIDS relief, Virgin Active South Africa has implemented an Employee Wellness disease-intervention programme, covering not only HIV and AIDS-related staff training and development, but the cost of associated medical treatment and drugs. As one of corporate South Africa’s most comprehensive HIV and AIDS education and treatment initiatives, Virgin Active’s programme was designed to help eradicate the disease from the 2,500-strong permanent labour force working across its 85 health clubs and offices nationwide. This follows Branson’s recent ‘0% Challenge’ to the Companies in the Virgin worldwide group, intended to achieve:  0% of HIV/AIDS deaths, 0% new infections, 0% mother to child transfer of the disease and 0% discrimination against its victims.”[1]

Two phases of this educational drive were designed and delivered by LifeLab between 2005 and 2008. Phase one was a national train-the-trainer programme and in phase two a staff member at each club was trained as a wellness coach to support staff with HIV/AIDS and wellness related issues.

The workplace wellness intervention was launched originally on the Virgin Active website as the V-Sex programme and received the most hits in the history of the company’s intranet. This innovative marketing approach, which has become characteristic of the Virgin brands, was a positive factor in enhancing staff enrolment in the programme. The programme was subsequently rebranded as V-Wellness and evolved to a broader spectrum wellness programme where a blend of coaching and facilitation was used to increase impact.



[1] Virgin Active Press Release, 2007