Firstly, tell us a little about yourself.
Originally from New York, I studied ballet intensely from a young age through high school. I graduated from university with a joint degree in Art History and Writing, and when I entered the working world, my study of ballet evolved into a yoga practice, which I of course still follow today. I worked for five years for the Walt Disney Company in Sales and Marketing in Los Angeles, before moving back to the east coast to get my MBA. I then worked in fundraising and philanthropy for several years in NYC before moving with my husband to Tokyo. While in New York City, my yoga practice grew more serious, and I found myself running around town to take class with specific teachers. Although difficult to follow such a rigorous yoga practice in Tokyo (this was 1999!), I did my best to seek out as many classes as possible, while maintaining a job as a corporate trainer. In 2001, we moved to Hong Kong, and I immediately became pregnant with my first child. It was at this time that I also started practicing Pilates, and I decided to give up desk jobs! After my daughter was born, I completed comprehensive Pilates training, and later opened Flex (then located in Stanley) in January 2005. In addition to my 13 year old daughter, I have twin boys who are 9, and twin rescue dogs who are a very rambunctious 18 months old!
What does a typical day look like for you?
Long! During the week, I get up with the kids around 6:30 AM and after they’re off to school, I head to the studio around 8:30 AM. Usually I have about 5 hours of training – a mixture of private clients and group classes. I teach a variety of classes, including Xtend Barre, Pilates, yoga and a few other hybrid classes that I’ve created. After teaching I take a short lunch break, followed by a few more hours of meeting and admin work with the team at the studio. Changing hats, early evenings are spent with the children on activities, homework, dinner together…through bedtime. Typically I still have a few more hours of admin at night, and I’ll often do my networking then reaching out to other teachers overseas, contacting suppliers for our retail boutique, placing orders, etc. Sometimes I just brainstorm new ideas for the studio and all the new concepts I want to bring to Flex.
What are your tips on staying motivated?
Be passionate!! If you are passionate, you don’t need to “work hard” to stay motivated, it will come naturally. By loving and respecting your body, staying in shape (both in terms of diet and exercise) is a pleasure, as well as a gift. Find the type of exercise you really enjoy and stick with it. Don’t feel like you must do everything – hitting your stride and staying in a regular routine are the keys to success. We can apply this same strategy to keeping our mind healthy – if you enjoy what you do, i.e. your job, creativity and productivity come naturally. Sometimes radical change isn’t necessary; fine-tuning work parameters can often be the key to re-igniting the flame.
What inspired you to set up Flex?
When I moved to the south side of Hong Kong Island in 2003, I was very surprised to find there were no fitness studios other than the private clubs. Certainly there was no Pilates training to speak of, and even the outdoor personal training options weren’t as organized and professional as they are today. I thought this was very strange, given all the athletic types living in the south side neighborhoods, and I knew there was a market for an upscale studio offering Pilates and yoga modeled on the studios I’d experienced in the States. I wanted people to have the opportunity to experience the amazing results of Pilates when performed properly on full apparatus under the tutelage of certified instructors, rather than ad hoc mat classes in function rooms. When I first saw the Stanley space, the rent was very reasonable, so I decided to make the leap and open my own space.
Is there anything you will be adding to your roster?
We are adding a series of monthly classes, which are like special “add-on” classes to the schedule, including Yamuna Body Rolling and Aerial Arts. We are very excited to bring two guests from the US to Hong Kong this autumn: Yamuna, the creator of the Yamuna Body Rolling method returns to Flex this October, and we are very happy to introduce the YogaSlackers to Hong Kong in November. The YogaSlackers are an amazing duo, who lead slack line yoga classes, as well as Acro Yoga – their skill is unbelievable, and they are wildly popular in the US and globally. This will be their first trip to Hong Kong.
As the first studio to bring a licensed barre method to Hong Kong (XtendBarre©), Flex will continue to offer more XtendBarre© classes, including our new Teen Barre class. We are also excited to launch the new Les Mills’ Born To Move™ children’s classes, taught by Spotlight Studio – a first in Hong Kong.
Finally, we have an incredible workshop schedule lined up for autumn, with four dedicated categories of programs: Restore, Elevate, Wellness and Bloom, designed to offer something for everyone to keep balance in their practice on and off the mat – from handstanding to learning about food allergies, restorative poses for the hips and shoulders to post natal intensive recovery.
Which classes would you recommend and/or which have been the most popular classes so far?
I get asked this question a lot, and really it’s an impossible one! All our classes are great, it’s really more about maintaining a balanced schedule with your workout. For quick toning problem areas, of course our XtendBarre© classes are completely effective; for quickly flattening the belly and sculpting the waistline, as well as developing long, lean, balanced musculature, Pilates is the way to go. Yoga provides a bit of yin and yang – some classes offer a more cardio element, others offer more stretching, and all classes offer peace of mind! For fat burning, all our H.I.I.T. Cardio classes are effective, as well as InSANITY© and TRX©. Finally, to really let your hair down and have some unusual fun, our aerial Pilates classes are amazing!
Do you plan on opening more studios around HK or expanding overseas?
Hmmmm.. I’ve been asked this many times and although I have my eye on a few areas, nothing is on the drawing board at this time.
What does it mean to have a “healthy” lifestyle?
To me, “healthy” equals “balance”: in both mind and body, in our personal and professional relationships, and in our relationship with our body and how we treat it. It is always my wish that the stimulation of the physical workout we offer at Flex helps people achieve success in all other relationships. I think the Latin expression “Mens sana in corpore sano” eloquently sums up this philosophy. (Usually translated as “a sound mind in a sound body” or “heathy mind in a healthy body”)
Some words of wisdom that I live by….
Haha! I always try to follow these words of wisdom….
- Work-wise, I have a rule that I always tackle 5 key things each day which will have a positive impact on the following day. No matter what, I make sure I do these key things every day;
- Show appreciation to the people you work with and your family members; make people feel good whenever you have an opportunity to do so – it goes a long way;
- In keeping with my point about balance being healthy – don’t make yourself a martyr unnecessarily – specifically, I see a lot of mums sacrifice their workouts for their children, but I believe that an hour workout every day undoubtedly makes a better, more patient parent. Learn the parameters of keeping yourself in balance;
- Respect your instincts, and trust that you can work organically from these instincts;
- You’re never too old to seek your passion! Believe in this, and it will keep you inspired (and young)!