Happy New Year everyone, we know we’ve been a little quiet on the blog front for the last month or so but we’re back and better than ever. We’re starting up our Wellness Talks again this January with none other than Alicia Pan, friend to The Whole Kitchen and co-founder of yoga studio, Yoga Movement. We sat down with Alicia just before Christmas to talk all things yoga, juggling being a mum with being a full time entrepreneur, and her top tips for living a balanced and well rounded life.
Thank you so much for joining us Alicia, before we get started, could you share with us how you started your day this morning?
My day started with getting up at 6.45am with my two boys (Koda is aged 3 and Will is 1), having breakfast with the family and getting Koda (the older boy) ready for preschool. School drop off is at 8:30am so I dropped him off on my bicycle and then continued on to the gym – sometimes it’s boxing – and then straight over to Yoga Movement Robertson Quay to teach.
What is your story and how you got into the work you are doing?
My husband and I founded Yoga Movement eight years ago. I was a full time performer, singer and yoga teacher at that time and he was the brand manager of a global surf brand. We put our thinking hats together to create something that we felt was lacking in the market – a yoga/lifestyle brand based on the physical movement of yoga, that was accessible to everybody. I think there are so many different ways to decide how yoga works for you. From then on Yoga Movement was born, and what started as a standalone “brick & mortar” concept is now 6 fully fitted out lifestyle concepts, a 100% company owned app, online classes as well as a dedicated team of over 100 staff.
How has COVID-19 impacted you personally and professionally? How did you cope during the lockdown?
From a business perspective, when we were forced to shut for two months, it was like “Well, what’s going to happen?” What do we do with our staff and our locations? Obviously it’s not something that, when we say we’re shutting for two months, we can just pause everything. We still had to think about our commitments, our physical spaces, our over one hundred staff. We can’t just say “Hey, we’re shutting so we don’t need you now, and hey we’re open so we need you again”. All of that required planning so there was a lot of emotional distress during that time. Not to mention being on top of each other at home with family, I love my family to death but we’re not meant to spend that much time on top of each other, you know what I mean?
I am not gonna lie – at the start of all this I felt completely helpless professionally. It was a big struggle for me to come to terms with lockdowns and its impact on the business, and service – based businesses in general. I couldn’t help but think if this would be the end of 8 years of hard work and how we were going to manage it. I think at this point the worst has passed, and we’ve hustled and sort of come out on the other side positively.
In my personal life, it has impacted my ability to do the things that I wanted to do this year as a family. We started the year with the goal to spend a little bit more time travelling between Australia and Singapore, and to balance out the lifestyle for our children between the two places. Of course, that has been unachievable given the current state of the world. I’d like to think of myself as a social person as well, so being impacted in a way where I have to think of ‘distancing’ everywhere I go has taken a bit of a toll on my mental health and happiness. But such is the state of the world, and I think I am coping.
So you’ve got 3 boys now, how are you balancing that chaos with also being a full time entrepreneur.
Actually it's five, I’ve got two more boy dogs, I’m completely outnumbered. And, to be honest I’m quite glad that the business stuff and career goals all happened before I had kids, because once you have kids, all that drive, and hussle, and energy kind of goes out the window a bit. I’m at a stage now with the business where I don’t feel like I have to balance everything, we have an amazing team.
As entrepreneurs yourselves you would know the biggest challenge and the scariest thing jumping into it would be the risks you take. Being the sole investors, the sole risk-takers of the company – especially as a husband and wife duo – when the business goes through hard times, the family goes through hard times. There’s no one else making the final decision, there’s no one else going through what we go through.
Do you see Yoga Movement going in a different direction?
This year has been weird, everything has been about “pivoting”, I swear I never want to hear the word “pivot” again once we’re through this. I feel like the trend changed a little bit earlier this year, working from home, but I feel like now people are starting to go back to their offices.
Obviously at the beginning of the year there was a lot of pivoting into virtual and digital. Being fitness people yourselves you know that the experience is different. You have your dog running around, or your child pulling your hair, your phone ringing, or the TV on in the background, you know, it’s very different, and I feel that people still like the experience of being in-studio and being with a group of people with an instructor who motivates them to get through the class.
There was quite a high demand for online virtual classes at the beginning but I think now that everything has died down, our case numbers are lower, we’re pretty stable and safe in Singapore itself I think the demand for getting back into spaces has risen again.
From your experience, what do you feel are the biggest health challenges people are facing today?
From my own experience and interactions, I believe the most dangerous health challenges anyone could face are mental health challenges. This includes stress, depression, anxiety, sleep deprivation….. etc. They are also the most prevalent during these challenging times.
What are your hopes for the future?
You know, everyone’s talking about new normal, new normal, but I don’t want this to be the new normal personally, I don’t want it. I want things to be back to the old normal, and I know it’s going to take some time and everyone’s cooperation, but hopefully one day we’ll get there.
We’re going to talk food now, can you describe your food philosophy?
EVERYTHING. IN. MODERATION. I am not gonna lie, I enjoy a good feast. I am disciplined with my workouts but I hate to think that I work so hard only to deprive myself of my own enjoyment. I am sensible when it comes to eating so even though I do allow myself bad food choices (or lets call it ‘hearty’ food choices), I always make sure that I don’t go overboard with it and balance out my other meals with cleaner options.
What is your typical day on a plate? Do you have any go-to, family-favourite recipes (snacks or meals)?
A typical day for me would include : A piece of toast + eggs in the morning, a salad consisting of 1 type of protein (excluding red meat) for lunch, and chicken or fish with a side salad (sometimes with grains) for dinner.
What are your top three tips for healthy living?
- Eat well (everything in moderation!)
- EXERCISE WHEN YOU CAN!
For someone wanting to learn more about wellness/nutrition, what resources would you recommend? (This could be books, podcasts, websites, anything!)
I like going on mindbodygreen for wellness tips. With regards to nutrition there are SO MANY recipe accounts on Instagram that are GREAT to draw inspiration from!
YMLife! on YogaMovement.com regularly has fitness tips as well! (haha!)
Do you have any affirmations, quotes, or mantras that you turn to regularly?
Happiness is the best make up.
How can our readers connect with you further?
@alicia_pan on Instagram! However, I post mainly stuff about family and friends.
And finally, just a bit of fun, some sentence starters, just say the first thing that pops into your head!
- Three things I always have stocked in my fridge are... Milk, Eggs and Cheese
- To relax I... get a massage
- I’m most grateful for… my family
- If I could eat only one thing for the rest of my life it would be… Sushi!