In this special column called the “TLC x Fempreneurs Series”, we will be featuring inspiring Female Entrepreneurs (Fempreneurs) in short. You will be able to have a sneak peek at their mindsets and their daily habits.
Believe in the power of community. On some days when you feel big goals are impossible, or when you feel like giving up, you need to lean on your like-minded community. You can even “borrow” motivation, and in turn “return” with your own inspiring stories to pay it forward.
Meet Deborah Wong (Breathe Pilates)
Tell us a little about yourself. What is your business/ brand about?
Hello! I am Deborah Wong, the Co-Owner of Breathe Pilates, one of Singapore’s largest Pilates and GYROTONIC studios, and also a Senior instructor at the studio.
Breathe Pilates is a Pilates and GYROTONIC studio that has four locations around Singapore, and it will soon open a fifth one. The studio offers Pilates and GYROTONIC® classes that aim to enhance physical strength, flexibility, posture, and mental awareness, while also stimulating the cardiovascular, skeletal, and muscular systems of the body.
The studio provides a range of classes that cater to various needs, including postnatal, prenatal, and rehabilitative lessons. We also train and certify Pilates and GYROTONIC instructors and act as the Licensed Training Centre for Merrithew, one of the most prominent internationally recognised schools of Pilates, in Singapore, and an education host centre for the GYROTONIC® method.
Our mission statement is to inspire wellness and support every individual in their journey to maximise their movement potential. We believe that each person is unique and has different needs and personal goals, and we work with them to develop tailored programs to help them achieve their goals using the resources they have. We also empower our clients to take charge of their own health by providing resources and organising workshops/talks for both our instructors and clients.
What got you started on your business?
I have been practising Pilates since I was 18 years old and I truly love it. Not only did it make me physically stronger, but it also helped me develop body awareness, mindfulness, and control, which have been invaluable in improving my emotional and mental well-being beyond just physical health.
This newfound passion drove me to pursue instructor training, which I completed at Breathe Pilates. During this time, the founders and previous owners of the studio were looking to sell the business to explore other interests. They approached me and offered me the opportunity to take over the business.
As someone who has always been interested in entrepreneurship and business, I was excited about the possibility of sharing the benefits of Pilates with a larger audience. This opportunity aligned perfectly with my passion for Pilates, and I decided to take it up.
Before you started on your business, what did you do on a full-time basis?
I used to work as a medical doctor. However, even after taking over Breathe Pilates, I continued to work part-time as a doctor. As the business grew, I eventually transitioned to running it full-time.
What were some difficulties you faced in your life and how did you overcome them?
The Covid-19 pandemic presented the most recent challenge for our business. We faced the difficult task of adapting to rapidly changing circumstances while ensuring the safety of our staff and clients. These were truly unprecedented times, and the duration of the situation was unknown.
We are grateful for our excellent team at Breathe, who worked tirelessly to manage communication and operations. We also appreciate the trust our staff and clients had in us. We held meetings on weekends and late into the night, moved our classes online, and, when the studios reopened, worked with restricted capacity and ongoing changes. We maintained clear communication with our clients to keep them informed of the latest developments, all while keeping the business afloat.
Although the experience was extremely stressful, we persevered and emerged stronger as a team. We were flexible, and resilient, and worked together effectively.
Who inspires you?
Sounds cliche, but everyone really inspires me. Everyone has their own story, their own battle, and their own challenges. I always find that you can learn something from everyone. Moreover, as an extrovert, I really love people, and hearing their stories. I guess that’s one of the reasons I enjoy being a doctor and Pilates instructor. In particular, I enjoy being a Pilates instructor because I have the opportunity to see my clients regularly, at least once a week for an hour or more. This allows me to get to know them and understand their unique challenges and successes.
What excites you most about your industry?
Health and wellness are incredibly important as they can transform one’s life and relationships with others. You have so much more energy and mental clarity and your life is so much fuller. It goes from black and white to technicolour! it’s hard to explain but when you help someone discover that, it’s extremely satisfying.
It’s the small things, like clients being able to go on holiday or pick up their children without pain, that make a big impact. Work and relationships can also improve due to newfound awareness. After the pandemic, people are paying more attention to their health and wellness, which is exciting because it can have a greater impact.
What is your vision / personal motto?
We have only one life, and my hope is to contribute to making the world a better place. This could be through our work or in our daily interactions. Additionally, I strongly believe in kindness. Despite our circumstances, thoughts, and emotions, we always have the option to choose kindness.
As I have gotten older I realised that life goes by so quickly. I have learned to live in the moment, and to embrace both the good and the bad in life.
Do you have any words of advice for other ladies who are starting their business/ starting to pursue their dream?
“Go for it!” – There will always be a million reasons why not. Starting anything new can be challenging, scary, and require overcoming inertia. Despite the amount of planning done, things may not go as planned and curveballs will happen – so don’t worry too much about having the perfect business plan. You will figure things out as you go along.
That being said, it’s important to have a plan, conduct research, and speak with others in the industry. It’s all about finding balance.
What have you learnt recently that you hope the other ladies can take back?
There is a season and time for everything. Nothing is forever, both the good and the bad. It wasn’t until I became a mother that I truly realised how quickly time passes with children. It can be both challenging and fulfilling, and I have learned to cherish every single moment.
How do you think you can help ladies to feel confident and empowered?
Confidence is not a destination or an end-point; it arises when you learn to embrace yourself for who you are, and where you are, and own your choices. Everyone has different priorities and goals, and while you can do everything, it cannot all be done at the same time! Our goal is to help individuals gain confidence by providing them with the information and tools they need to make informed choices.
For instance, there are various nutrition fads and diets such as keto, paleo, plant-based and more. We strive to cut through the noise by explaining the science and physiology behind them, enabling individuals to make the right choices for themselves.
What is one thing you are grateful for?
My health and my family. I wake up grateful every day that I have a beautiful extended family and that everyone is healthy.
What do you do in your free time as self-care? How do you unwind?
Exercise! I genuinely enjoy exercising as it provides me with an opportunity to focus on myself, my breath, and my movement while sweating to detox. Apart from that, I also enjoy watching TV, reading books, and spending time with my friends.
Let us know more about what you do!
At Breathe Pilates, we acknowledge that every individual is unique, and we carefully listen to and plan programs tailored to your specific needs. Our instructors have undergone hundreds of hours of training, not only in Pilates but also in complementary fields such as nutrition, medicine, kinesiology, and rehabilitation.
You may also find me featured in Singapore Motherhood and The Singapore Women’s Weekly.
Connect with Breathe Pilates!
Are you a Fempreneur too?
Connect with us – we’d love to feature you! Say hi to us at [email protected] or reach out to us via our social media.
Read TLC x Fempreneur Series:
- Margaret Wu, For Beloved One (Singapore)
- Nerissa Low, Liht Organics (Singapore)
- Maddy Barber, Madly Gems (Singapore)
- Dr. Menka Gupta, Nutra Nourish (Singapore)
- Lily Kew, Kew Organics (Singapore)
- Vikki Tear, SoyCraft (Singapore)
- Ezza Yusof, 2morrow Official (Malaysia)
- Julie Yim, Lilin+Co (Malaysia)
- Zairin Azman, UMMA (Malaysia)
- Liza Morales, Ecotecture Design Studio (Philippines)