Veronica is a close friend of over 15 years; we met when sharing a house in London, and her personal and professional journey is one that I find completely inspiring. She is one of the strongest and most empowered women I’ve ever known, and has built more than one successful business over the years. I’m extremely grateful to Veronica for being able to give me some of her time to discuss her new role and her many achievements.
Veronica, I understand you have recently started a new role, tell us a bit about it.
My new role is as the Client Relations Manager within London City Central, looking after three studios, for a global fitness company called F45, the F standing for functional, 45 standing for 45 minutes. F45 is a global business providing high-intensity group workouts that are fast, fun, and proven to get results, and I’m enjoying every single minute of my new role. I look after all of our members across the three sites, and ensure they are getting the most out of their workouts, their nutrition and their coaching with us, as well as having fun.
How long have you worked within the fitness industry and what made you take this route?
I’ve worked within the fitness industry for just over 15 years, and I’ve always enjoyed it. I had not that long come out of university, and to be honest university didn’t really play that much of a part to where I am now. I wasn’t very academic at school, but I excelled in dance and PE, and I knew I had a creative flair. I knew I was quite physical in my learning, and I knew didn’t want to be sitting behind a desk, but unfortunately, the beginning of my career was quite influenced by my parents.
My first job when you and I first met was at an advertising agency called Redwood Publishing in the West end, and I have great memories from there. I always knew though that my office based roles were just a pit stop, and I knew that one day I would be doing something that I was very passionate about. I’ve always been a keen dancer, I love dancing, but had never studied it as such until one day I decided that while I still can, I should just go ahead and do it. I completed my dance teachers IDTA (International Dance Teachers Association) and freestyle examination, and received my first teaching certificate, and then decided to open up my own dance school.
I started teaching dance classes in a hall on a weekend as that was all I could do with the time that I had, teaching street dance to children, but when I started doing that I quickly realised what my real passion was, and it wasn’t sitting behind a desk. The fulfilment and enjoyment I got from dance was so much more giving than a paid salary and I very quickly decided to work my ass off and try and pick up more classes working alongside my day job. I kind of then went from teaching on a weekend to also teaching a couple of evening classes and it was then that I found my fitness passion. From there I decided I also wanted to teach group exercise classes in gyms, and so I did my exercise to music qualification in 2003, put my name out there in gyms, and started a teaching career still alongside my day job in the City. It started to escalate really quickly with a lot of feedback and recommendations, and then it got to a point where I was juggling two full time jobs. I was working full time at Ernst & Young, as well as teaching across three gyms in the London Bridge area. I would teach before work, and during my lunch break, as well as running the dance school, and this went on for two years until it got to a point where I was so tired, and something had to give. I then went part-time at Ernst & Young, and this freed up some of my time and allowed my dance school to grow so big that I then quit my day job, and had to employ staff. I had ten teachers working for me within my business which was called Dancemode, and I was operating after school clubs at nearly all of the schools throughout Thurrock. I won various awards, including the young entrepreneur of the year award, and my work went from strength to strength.
After several years, and following various life events, I then ended up selling the dance school so I could focus more on the fitness side, and then went on to teach fitness across most of the gyms in Thurrock.
What would you say has been your biggest challenge over the last 10 years, and what has kept you going?
The biggest challenge over the last 10 years has been losing my father, nothing else has compared in terms of the pain, and it was because of this mentally that I couldn’t continue to run a dance school, teach all of the classes, and work my day job, as well as the fact I had just given birth to my first daughter. What kept me going has been the love from family and friends, and the work that I do. My job enables me to be around positive people who are looking to make positive changes within their lives and this has really kept me going through the tough days.
Have you faced any barriers as a female within the fitness industry?
I don’t feel I have directly faced any barriers if I’m honest. I’m actually one of the very few Asian women within the fitness industry in the UK which I’m really proud of. In the Philippines they love to eat, and when I’m out there they sometimes think I’m a guy because of my muscles and fitness. I would like them to embrace fitness out there, and a big passion of mine is to work with women out there on their fitness, and give them empowerment both mentally and physically. Confidence comes from within, and I feel the women out there would really benefit from what I do.
Biggest lesson you’ve learnt?
The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is to not trust everybody you meet in business. There is a lot of competition out there, and a lot of haters, and you can be approachable and friendly, but also need to keep your private life to yourself, not everyone is your friend. Also, never forget where you came from, and always remain humble with your success.
Best advice for other women wanting to start their own business?
The best advice I could give any woman out there who wants to start her own business is to network, network, and network some more. Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself, and be proud of who you are and what you are doing.
Have you noticed any trends over the last few years with the women you train?
I’ve noticed over the last five years that women are caring more about how they feel about themselves rather than just about how they look, and the mental feeling seems to be more important now. It is hard in society today with all of the reality TV programmes promoting young girls and their looks, surgeries etc. but I’ve definitely noticed with my clients that the physical feeling no longer seems to be more important now than the mental feeling.
Can you offer any online fitness training for women?
I am a PT and still train a select few from my home alongside my full time role, and I also offer online programmes for people wanting to target specific goals. My 2vFit brand means I can offer one to one online support, and mentor women regarding their nutrition as well as their fitness regime. I’m also a Beach Body coach, these are the people who founded Insanity, and you can follow me on Instagram and drop me a message with any questions regarding online programmes.
Finally, what would you say has been your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement is that I can look back now knowing I’ve worked so hard to get where I am today. I’ve run several businesses, I’ve trained many women, and I’m not even at the top end of my career yet. Knowing that I’ve had such a big impact, and having women and children still approach me when I’m out shopping and thanking me for teaching them to dance, or reach their goals, find their confidence, and change their life, has been absolutely amazing, and I’m so proud of this.
Thank you so much again Veronica, I know you are a busy lady and busy mum to your two gorgeous girls. I can’t wait to watch your F45 journey and see where it takes you, you never stop working, and you’ve smashed so many goals already. Good luck in your new role x