Small Business: Community focus - Glenn White

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Glenn White, founder of the Buteyko Breathing Clinic in Ponsonby.

Why did you set up your business? What were you trying to do?

I overcame 40 years of asthma with the knowledge I gained from a Buteyko course I did in the UK in August 2000. At the time, I was pumped full of steroids and, despite this, my asthma was so bad that I would need between 10 and 20 puffs of my Ventolin inhaler every day to keep breathing.

Within a week of doing the course, I was symptom free and wasn't using my Ventolin inhaler. Within a month, I stopped all steroids. Now, 13 years later, I am still asthma and drug-free. This experience convinced me to change careers and pursue what has become an all-consuming passion.

After 18 years working as a geologist in Indonesia, I was looking for a way home. New Zealand has more asthma sufferers per capita than just about any other country in the world.

After my own seemingly miraculous recovery, I felt that not only could I help make a dent in those statistics but also earn a living doing it.

How have you helped people? And what has the response been?

I help people recognise and correct poor breathing habits learning to breathe the way they are supposed to 24/7. The programme includes breathing exercises that are practised for between 45 -60 minutes a day for six weeks for optimal results. As of November 2013, over 6,500 people have attended the Buteyko Breathing Clinic for help with a wide range of breathing-related disorders. When I first started out, my focus was mainly asthma and other respiratory disorders. We now get referrals for respiratory disorders (asthma, emphysema, chronic cough, hay fever, chronic bronchitis), sleep disorders (sleep apnoea, snoring, insomnia, restless legs, bed wetting), cardiovascular disorders (hypertension, angina, Raynaud's), and stress related disorders.

Dentists refer clients for help with dental problems caused by open-mouth breathing.

Most of these referrals are children who habitually mouth-breathe. They recognised that this habit, if not corrected, can result in an under-developed jaw, crooked teeth and the need for braces in their teens. If the nose breathing habit is established early in life, it is possible to avoid expensive orthodontic bills and resulting health problems such as sleep apnoea as an adult.

Sports coaches refer their athletes for help in boosting sport performance.

Our clients are referred by doctors, dentists, health professionals and past clients.

The testimonials we get from clients and health professionals are indicative of the success of our programmes.

How is business these days?

Ours is a busy and fast growing clinic today. The importance of correct breathing and the value of breathing retraining in helping correct poor breathing habits, is much better known now. This was evident in TV One's "Is Modern Medicine Killing You?" which aired in 2012. Two patients on that programme were able to resolve chronic conditions after being referred to our clinic. That and two articles in the Herald in 2012 helped raise awareness making 2013 our busiest year to date. Practitioner training is also a fast growing part of the business with four trainees completing training in 2013 and double that number signed up in 2014.

What have you personally got out of running the clinic?

I get tremendous satisfaction from helping empower people to overcome health issues that in many cases were not resolved by other medical interventions. I have come to realise that there is something to learn from every new client and this has helped evolve and invigorate my practice.

What else would you like to do?

I would love to help get this programme into schools as part of the physical education curriculum. I am currently in discussion with a number of schools with the idea of setting up a pilot programme to look at the possible benefits.


Next week: It can be said that NZ game developers punch seriously above their weight, the likes of Sidhe Interactive, SmallWorlds and Ninja Kiwi. I want to hear from more game developers making some major strides here and overseas who are not so well known - yet. I know you are out there, please get in touch.

- NZ Herald

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