Joy Altimare is the Chief Engagement and Brand Officer for EHE, a preventative health care provider that, for more than 100 years, has worked with employers to deliver employee access to healthy lifestyle management. EHE empowers employees to take charge of their own health while performing at their best, both at work and in their personal lives. Her marketing acumen, her passion for living a healthy lifestyle, her welcoming message for women, and her refusal buy into having to be perfect make Joy Altimare a woman we’re watching.
As the Chief Engagement and Brand Officer for EHE, you spend much of your time working with women wellness entrepreneurs. Tell us about EHE’s mission, and how it aligns with your own definition of living well.
At EHE, we stand for engaging healthy employees. We’re a company that believes in preventative medicine and lifestyle behavior. We work with employers and their workers to see that they’re using preventative practices. EHE aligns with the wellness habits that I’ve practiced my entire life: I was an athlete as a child; I became a fitness instructor in college. I believe in the benefits of preventative care. It’s important to me that at EHE, we’re centered around prevention and wellness in women. We try to keep them healthier so they can perform better, and so they can be happy and healthy for their family. I was blessed to have a child at 37—considered late by the medical establishment—and when my daughter was born, she was nine pounds and healthy. I recovered well and bounced back quickly, and I believe that was due to my preventative, healthy lifestyle.
Since childhood, you’ve been interested in wellness through physical activity—going so far as to earn your ACE certification while you led a step aerobics class at your all-girls high school. How has your relationship to wellness changed since then? Does your definition of wellness still focus heavily on being physically active, or is it a more holistic approach?
Yes, it’s more holistic now. Now that I’m in my 40s, it’s important to think about my body as a whole and my approach to well-being in a holistic way. I believe this, and so does EHE. It’s a lifestyle perspective: how you think, how you move and how you eat. When I was younger, I constantly thought about working out, sometimes pushing myself to do it twice a day. Now, I’m more centered. Now, there’s a healthy tension between being active, nutrition and mindfulness. Being in tune with the motivation behind my behavior is so important.
For me, I feel better when I move. I was a competitive swimmer for most of my childhood, then a runner. I used to feel I had to run six miles a day to be able to say, “I’m a contributor to myself and the world.” Now, I have a dance party with my daughter, I walk from the train to work, and then I have meetings with my direct reports walking around EHE’s office in Rockefeller Center. I feel better now! I’ve figured out how to incorporate fitness into my life vs. defining my life by fitness. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect—but we need to give ourselves the freedom of forgiveness to not be perfect all the time. I want to get up at 7 a.m. and have a dance party with my daughter, not be perfect! When I do this with her, I have one on one time with her; she’s learning while we count out steps or sing, and my heart rate is up. The thing about wellness is that we don’t have to do things the way others do them. To me, I have to figure out ways to incorporate all aspects of my life—wife, mother, executive—to truly live well.
How does the care EHE provides differ from that of a primary care physician?
EHE will use biometrics to understand what’s happening on the inside: cholesterol levels, etc. We deliver preventative exams, then a year-long plan. We offer services where employees consult with dietitians, mindfulness coaches and holistic therapies that walk you through what to do to address issues and help you reach your optimum health—down to using vetted apps to make wellness accessible. We can then refer you out to medical doctors if need be. For instance, while we encourage cognitive behavior for lifestyle change, we will refer you to a psychiatrist if need be.
How do you marry your business and marketing acumen with helping women to live well?
When I’m not leading the marketing and revenue efforts as the Chief Engagement and Brand Officer for EHE, I spend my time working with women wellness entrepreneurs: dietitians, physiologists, mindful coaches. I work with them to help hone their value proposition and develop a unique and distinctive selling proposition to either launch or sustain their business model. I marry my business and marketing acumen to their passion, subject-matter expertise and dedication to success. The end result is a vetted concept that serves as the foundation of a scalable business made for and by women.
Marketing is all about understanding how to drive consumer behaviors. Women are the ultimate marketers; we understand communication and we know how to drive behaviors to achieve a desired outcome. I believe in this core marketing principle: Meet them where they are, and give them something they need before they know they need it. Instead of being transactional, engage with an individual before asking something of them. Understand people, who they are, what their goals are and then serve up a package option to meet them where they are; find them something they don’t know they need. Holistic well-being for women means thinking about different phases and stages of our lives. I try to bring to our patients the idea that there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to wellness.
At EHE, we want to be the care navigator. We try to be relevant. That’s what makes brands “sticky” and keeps people coming back. People purchase brands, not products. That’s why people go to same vacation spots or buy brands over and over. People see wellness growing and increasing in relevancy and access. Think of Peloton, for example: It brought cool spin classes to women all over the country. It’s not just the classes, though, it’s more about experience and community. They’re actually branded as an entertainment company—not a fitness company. The ability to bring that tribal experience at home is priceless. They provided for a need that no one knew they needed.
The wellness industry has seen a massive growth surge, over the past few years especially. What is it about wellness that makes it resonate with so many, and also makes it so marketable?
Wellness is universal. Everyone wants to be healthy. Healthcare is a $3 billion industry. While two-thirds of that is spent on those with chronic illness, the final third is spent on keeping healthy people healthy. Most people want to perform at their optimum level and be there for their family. For me, I want to be happy and healthy for my family, to live to see my grandchildren grow up. People gravitate toward that, and that’s why wellness is so marketable.
If you could wave a magic wand and make an immediate change in the world right now, what would it be?
I’m not a political person, but there are about 300 migrant children that have been separated from their families and displaced here in NYC. Some local “mommy blogs” put out the call to action to donate, so I got up, drove to Target and got diapers, wipes and some toys they could hold on their own. I saw a handful of kids, and they broke my heart. I thought, what else can I do? So I applied to be an emergency foster care parent. We’re going through the vetting process now, waiting to hear back.
Pediatricians in the area are calling for people to bring these children in for checkups and they will help them—these kids need medical care. Some of these children haven’t lived a year on earth and they’ve experienced more trauma than I have in my entire life. So yes, if I could wave a magic wand, it would be the reversal of time, to make this not be the case, to make this not the America we live in today.
You juggle many different hats and responsibilities every day. How do you incorporate joy into your daily life?
It’s a blessing and a curse to have the name Joy; it’s a little hard to have that name and not be upbeat. Over time, I’ve realized I’m not perfect. I’m type A, I’m a Scorpio, I’m an executive. It’s important to have goals and strive to meet them, but also to learn the lessons of failure. When you do that, you evolve, and you find joy. Finding joy is a choice. You can look to the future and you can choose it every morning. I can choose to have a dance party with my daughter, to have adventure, to wake up 10 minutes late. I can leave the house a few minutes later and take moments with my family. The days are long but the years are short, as the saying goes—you wake up and you can’t believe that three years have passed. You have to forgive yourself for not being perfect, and give yourself a moment for respite. I’m not perfect today, but I’m perfect for me. I’m enough.
Looking for more inspiration from women in wellness? This entrepreneur is using her brand as a platform for clean drinking water.