The question of attaining and maintaining good mental health has been at the forefront for years. As Hong Kong continues to strengthen its social distancing rules following the city’s fifth wave, this pursuit becomes increasingly entrenched in our daily lives
Belinda Koo is a founder of XYZ Studio, who introduced her Yin Yang-themed gym in Tai Kwun last year. Companies in the city have widely implemented Work From Home arrangements. However, in doing so, they need to reinvent a homely lifestyle that has emerged, which includes sustainable wellness routines within the boundaries of your abode.
Apart from starting her gym, Koo is also a managing director at UBS as well as a mother of three boys. Here, she shares her tips and tricks in keeping a balanced lifestyle at home and how she integrated the ancient Chinese philosophy of Yin and Yang as a concept for her gym when it re-opens its “chapter 2” in May.
Following the pandemic and the lockdown, how do you take care of your physical and mental health at home?
Be self-disciplined to form and maintain new habits, physically and mentally. I keep myself active with the instructors virtually and digital fitness and wellness libraries like XYZ On-Air. Regarding mental health, it comes down to how the brain works. Our brain is often wired to find faults. With that in mind, we can make conscious choices to switch perspectives, bringing new insights to the same incident and freeing ourselves from getting stuck. We all have a choice, after all.
How did Studio XYZ come up with the Yin and Yang concept? And what makes the new XYZ Tai Kwun studio different from others?
Living a corporate life in a prosperous city like Hong Kong requires a lot of Yang energy. And it’s easy to go for the adrenaline rush offered by Yang exercises to cope with daily tasks. I was no exception, once often having Brandon, the masculine side of Belinda, take over. But, knowing that this could not be the ultimate solution, I started to tap into the Yin energy and realise the power of the Yin-Yang balance. XYZ can be a space to help people explore their range – physically and emotionally, through a full spectrum of exercises to reset, rejuvenate and re-balance.
Tai Kwun studio (TK) is unique in that it is more than just a transitional fitness and wellness spot. And it is a lab to experiment on a unique integration of Yin and Yang energy under the same roof. We see XYZ pretty much like the microcosm of society; TK allowed us to challenge the status quo and explore ways to shift the core from “Yang” to “Yin-Yang balance”. With the sufficient time and space offered by TK, XYZ could process a proper closure of Chapter 1 as a spin studio and reset to fertilise Chapter 2 in May 2022 with the new studio opening, where people can experience wholesomeness.
What are some tips and workouts for those who are now confined indoors to stay healthy?
It’s hard to stay motivated when human interactions with instructors are limited. However, we feel the community profoundly and therefore launched a 14-day challenge, offering free videos of various exercises to empower people, not just clients, to explore and challenge themselves. Both still and dynamic activities, ranging from yoga to dancing, were included in the basket to spread the beauty of movements.
What are the challenges people face during this strict social distancing period?
“Togetherness” is limited, and the unique energy exchange in a group class and personal training. Yet, we see that as a chance to reclaim our power. Instead of relying on the external forces conveniently, we can challenge ourselves to see our needs and actual capacities. Then, do it on our own to truly own it, from setting new goals, building habits to completing the journey. Everything we need is already within us.
When it comes to a healthy diet, what are some recommendations for those stuck at home?
On top of a healthy diet, we can also explore fasting, a widespread practice in recent years with many health benefits backed by science, to rejuvenate our body and mind. Our body is a cycle, very connected with the planetary cycles like the moon’s cycle, the sun’s cycle, etc. So giving the regular and automatic pattern a break could perhaps bring more consciousness to what we genuinely need and cleanse the toxicity piled up in our body.
Fasting as a process should be done with the necessary understanding. There are different types of fasts, so find one that fits your lifestyle. For those with underlying health conditions, it’s best first to consult your doctor.
What is some of the best advice you can share with others?
Welcome new challenges in life – like lifting weights in the gym. The more we exercise our brain and problem-solving skills, the stronger our mental health.