Founder and Director of Lab Studios
YouTube: Lab TV
You only need to take one glance at Jasmine Chong’s Instagram page to know that she is a dedicated mother and entrepreneur, and that she’s serious about fitness. When she’s not playing with her toddler, she’s gracefully doing yoga poses, barre exercises and pilates in her studios or at her gorgeous new home.
She makes it look effortless now but, in reality, it wasn’t always this way. Her love for health and wellness came after a tumultuous time in the corporate world, leading her to quit, take a sabbatical and start attending yoga and barre lessons — a series of events that pushed her to where she is today:
A proud owner of four successful studios that teaches yoga, barre and, very soon, pilates under the Lab Studios brand, of which she is the founder and director. She is also now a mum to chubby-cheeked Joshua, her firstborn son, whom she gave birth to last year.
We spoke to Jasmine recently about her switch from having a full-time corporate job to entrepreneurship, how she juggles her time between being a mum, wife, business owner and yogi. She also talked to us about her home-selling process.
1) You had a corporate job before starting Lab Studios. What led to the career switch?
It was more of a push factor than a pull factor. I did not like the person I became at work. On top of that, I was often ill and constantly tired.
So, although a corporate job meant a stable salary that could fulfil some of my needs and wants, I needed to ask myself some tough questions about my personal growth. Eventually, I decided I had enough.
I left my job in 2013 to take a sabbatical. During that period, I started teaching yoga and ended up doing this full time for a couple of years. Together with my business partner, Betty Kong, we launched Lab Studios’ first brand, Yoga Lab, in 2016 with the mission of creating safe, accessible spaces for people from all walks of life to explore the practice.
The name “Lab Studios” signifies a unique approach to fitness and wellness, with all classes based on sequences that focus on the appropriate muscle groups to achieve optimal results.
In five years, Lab Studios has launched four Yoga Lab and Barre Lab studios, including a new flagship Lab Studios in Holland Village. It opened in August 2021, offering Lab on Demand, an online fitness subscription service we started in 2020 at the height of Singapore’s Circuit Breaker period.
By the end of 2021, we’ll be launching our newest concept, The Flow Pilates by Lab Studios, a joint venture with Tiffany Yow, the founder of The Flow Studio. This will bring The Flow’s renowned reformer method and workout to Singapore.
I still teach classes every week, along with Betty and our team of 28 teachers.
2) Why did you start Lab Studios, and why yoga and barre?
I began attending yoga classes in 2012 while working in the private banking sector, as a way to decompress and stay healthy. I became a full-time yoga teacher in 2014, teaching up to 25 classes a week.
I taught different iterations of yoga such as Hatha, Yin, Vinyasa, hot, and even prenatal yoga, sharing my journey on Instagram.
It was this online community that opened my eyes to a gap in the yoga market in Singapore at that time. My followers told me about rising class fees, as well as a lack of accessible classes and personalised teaching for inexperienced yoga students. I realised that although many people wanted to do yoga, it was not easy to sustain without breaking their wallet.
This inspired Betty, one of the owners of Updog Studio where I previously taught, to partner with me to open Yoga Lab, the first Lab Studios concept, on Hong Kong Street in 2016.
We founded Lab Studios with the idea of making classes available at a reasonable price, without compromising on quality or facilities.
I’m proud that Yoga Lab managed to break even within the first month of operations, which is a testament to Lab Studio’s mission in serving the needs of our community.
Four years ago, I stumbled into a barre class, not knowing what it was. I worked out my muscles in ways I never had before and I couldn’t walk down the stairs after class! I went back the next day to figure out why and ended up doing classes for 10 consecutive days. I was hooked.
Barre is such a good balance to the yoga practice because it works specific muscle groups, which counters the stretching that yoga does for the body. With Barre Lab, we have incorporated mindfulness into our method.
3) How do you juggle being a mother and entrepreneur? Tell us more about your family-work-life balance.
I apply what I learn on the mat, during my yoga practice, into my life. When balancing in a pose, you will begin to notice the little tweaks your muscles do to hold you in position. These little movements are necessary to find balance. If we allow these little movements to just be, we stay balanced. The problem is when we react to these constant movements and try to force or stop them. That’s when we lose our balance.
Another important thing for balance is your gaze (or Drishti). If you fix your gaze on one unmoving object that is in front of you, you can stay balanced indefinitely, or as long as you need to. If your gaze constantly shifts, you will lose your balance.
Translating this to life, I allow for minor changes to happen in my daily schedule and learn not to obsess over unplanned hiccups. Understanding the changing needs of my family and my business, I give myself the grace to allow for these “movements” to happen in my life.
So life is structured but not rigid. I have to pick the most important thing to focus on right now — and that is to form a secure attachment with my son. Studies have shown a child’s crucial development phase is from birth to the age of three. With this in mind as a key priority, it’s easy to decide how I set priorities.
4) You recently sold your home. Could you share with us your experience?
The penthouse I eventually sold had been on the market since 2018. Viewings were not tough to arrange when I had a tenant living in the unit. Then the Covid-19 pandemic struck in 2020.
I reached out to multiple agents who were initially happy to market the property for me at an agreed commission upon sale. However, as we got some viewings in, the agents would return to downplay the property in the hopes that I would adjust the price downwards to make an easy sale. I held firm as I believed the property has value. We just had to wait for the right buyer.
When Ohmyhome took over, I was assigned an Ohmyhome Super Agent. Upon our first meeting, he gave me all the data about my property and the landscape. He told me that my property was rare and desirable not only because penthouses were limited in our development, but that mine also had a beautiful unblocked view. He was confident he could sell it for the price I wanted.
That was a good meeting as I finally met an agent who views and values the property the way I do.
The property was then sold within two months by Ohmyhome, at the price we listed.
5) Any insights you learned that you can share with other sellers?
I am not a seasoned property seller but from my one experience, I realised that you can easily be swayed by the agents you work with. Pick one that you trust, preferably from a reputable company, so they stay accountable not only to you but to the company they work for. I highly recommend Ohmyhome.
6) What’s your favourite spot at home and why?
My favourite spot at home is my working and reading corner. It’s near the windows and drenched in natural light. I get to lounge on our comfortable Maxalto Febo armchair to read and work. This is also where my husband and I wind down over wine after a long day.
7) How can others carve out a space in their home to practice yoga?
Setting a physical boundary is important. You want the space that you practice yoga in to be a place that represents calm to you.
Since we are all now working from home, I understand how convenient it is to roll out a mat right next to your workstation to get your yoga practice done. However, I recommend against that because that will blur the physical boundary between work and your sanctuary. When the physical boundary is blurred, it is often harder to carve out that mental space to dedicate time just for yourself.
8) What does home mean to you?
Home is a feeling. It is important to me that I feel a sense of belonging at home — a place where my heart feels comfortable with all my surroundings.
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