When passion meets profit.
Work and play are often two things you don't mesh together. But for Bea Gonzales, it's the best of both worlds. Working as a real estate developer while also being one of the owners of Habitat Fitness, this 26-year-old definitely has her hands full, but she doesn't mind doing some heavy-lifting—both in her career and in the gym.
"We are a home that makes fitness fun!" are the words that will greet you when you go to Habitat Fitness' socials. This project came to be after Bea and her friends' favorite box closed down so they decided to open their own and put their own spin on things.
Fast forward to three years later and their light bulb idea has grown into a large community—a factor that they all loved when they were working out together. Their programs are tailor-made to be a holistic experience for its members and part of that is being each other's motivators. "We love celebrating our big and small wins! This really motivates every individual to be the better and fitter versions of themselves." Moreover, the SHEeo also wants to share the mindset of building good habits for one's health instead of looking at exercising as a task. "Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do. Not a punishment for what you ate. Now is the perfect time to create new healthy habits."
Below, we talk to the fitness-loving boss as she shares her mission of helping break boundaries for women, how their business is coping with the crisis, and her practical advice to aspiring entrepreneurs.
You just celebrated two things this year: officially crossing over the quarter age and Habitat Fitness turning three! Can you tell us a little more about when you started the company in your early twenties?
My co-founders and I met in a CrossFit box 6 years ago. We all found something in common and instantly fell in love with the sport. It really affected us when our old CrossFit box closed its doors 4 years ago because it already became a huge part of our lives. We would see each other every day to train and even hang out afterwards. More than the sport, we all became one family and that’s what it's all about— the community. It’s funny how we started the company. It all started with a single Facebook chat group. We were just throwing out random ideas and we were “joking” that we should open our own box instead. One thing led to another and here we are today! We come from different backgrounds and age groups. It was easy to divide the tasks and different departments because we all had various specialties. People would ask “Wasn’t it hard to start a business during your early twenties?” While it was difficult, having friends as partners made it easier and worthwhile. Not gonna lie, we all have different viewpoints but at the end of the day, we get things done because of our common goal.
Have you always been into fitness?
I’ve been into fitness ever since I was young. Back in grade school, I was the team captain of a Badminton club. In high school, I was part of the soccer/football team in De La Salle Santiago Zobel. I was also into long-distance running back in 2014-2015 and I've ran in two half marathons (21 kilometres) already. I came across CrossFit in 2014 and I haven’t stopped ever since. There are many things that I could do now that I have never imagined myself doing before. Example, I couldn’t even imagine myself lifting weights that are equal to my body weight especially because I’m really tiny, but a few months ago I surprised myself with a 235 lb deadlift and during this ECQ, I surprised myself with 5 strict pull ups! It’s really amazing to know what bodies are capable of doing!
You had this campaign recently with the slogan Beauty with Strength and your social media account often features career women and even mother and daughter duo who work out together. Was it a goal of yours to bring light to breaking stereotypes of women in fitness when you started the business?
Yes, that was our main goal. For too long, women have been convinced that lifting weights and intensity meant bulk and masculinity. It is our community’s mission to help end the stigma against women and lifting weights. We wanted to convince them that these new skills can unlock their true potential and new capabilities. In fact, lifting wasn’t an option for me before because the "goal" was to become skinny. Because of social media pressures and other advertisements over the years, people would only call skinny girls "beautiful". But this sport totally changed my perception of beauty. I learned that there is truly beauty in strength. Now my personal goal is to become strong and to constantly be at my prime. This fitness regimen has not only benefited me physically, but mentally as well.
What has been the biggest struggle you've had to overcome since opening your business?
This pandemic has been the biggest struggle so far. We’ve been closed for almost four months now and we still don’t know when we can open our doors again. For now, we have transitioned into a home program called Homecon. To be honest, it really hasn't been the easiest because everyone is used to the class/group set up and the overall experience is still different from when you workout at the box and at home.
On the contrary, what has been the most rewarding?
It is very rewarding to see our members achieve their fitness goals, whether it’s losing weight, unlocking new skills, or lifting heavier weights. We love celebrating their wins, whether big or small! The whole box celebrates whenever someone achieves something. Thank God for Instagram stories and Zoom classes. We still get to celebrate their wins even when we’re all apart. We truly appreciate the love and support from our Habitat family.
How have you personally been coping with your own fitness and well-being during these trying times that can also be helpful to everyone at home?
To be honest, I wasn’t the healthiest person ever before the lockdown. I loved pigging out and I partied almost every weekend. I would workout 2-3x a week and engage in high intensity workouts even when I lacked sleep. During the lockdown, I realised that I should let go of those bad habits of mine because working out alone won’t help you achieve your goals. You should have the proper nutrition and lifestyle; it goes hand in hand. Ever since the start of the ECQ, I have worked out religiously and set weekly and monthly goals for myself. I try to do new things once in a while, like yoga. I was never really a fan but I learned to love it. I now love starting my day with it because I get to meditate and clear my head before all the craziness of the day. I also started eating healthier and I became consistent with my intermittent fasting. So far I am on track and I’m very happy with my progress. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not always motivated to eat healthy or do intense workouts. There are times when I’m so lazy to move or anxiety kicks in, but at the end of the day, you just gotta remind yourself why you started anyway. My advice for everyone is to choose a fitness regimen that you truly enjoy. When you enjoy something, it won’t feel like a chore. Start moving every day, but always remember to have rest days as well.
You've developed a strong sense of community with the people who take on this program. Do you think this plays a role in helping the overall result for every individual?
Yes! I believe that our community plays a big role. We love pushing each other during every workout. The cheers of your box mates definitely play a big role. Habitat Fitness is not just a gym, it’s a home—a home filled with the most supportive and most approachable people you will ever meet.
Speaking of community, how has the SHEeo Society helped you in this regard?
I truly appreciate the support of my fellow SHEeos! We only met this January, but the endless support and affirmations from the SHEeo Society Club definitely keeps me going! The Tell-All Masterclass was very helpful even though we launched Habitat Fitness 3 years ago. I enjoyed the insightful conversations and i was able to apply them in my business.
What's your advice to anyone wanting to start their own entrepreneurial journey?
During these times, I noticed that people are so pressured by social media to create a new venture and start an online business on their own just because everyone’s starting to sell products. My only advice is do not let social media pressure you to come up with something creative or unique immediately. Those business ideas don’t come that easily. Think about your goals, your passions and purpose. Write them down and reflect. Do what makes you happy and know that you don’t have to do it alone. Gather your friends or family, look for like-minded individuals who have the same goal as you. It’s always fun to start a new venture with people who have the same dreams!
Written by Chin Ann Obiedo; Shot from home by Bea Gonzales, Produced by The SHEeo Society – Modesty Mae, Cami Alviz, Alyanna Nebreja
Want to meet SHEeos like Bea? Our Society is waiting for you!