Worth the hard work and sweat

Yoga studios are a dime a dozen in Singapore, but that is not stopping Elvina Cheong, 27, from opening one. In fact, since July 2016, she has opened two branches of Freedom Yoga, the first at Cecil Street, and a second at Holland Village.

"I felt opening my own yoga studio would be the best way to spread what I believe in and my love for yoga," says Ms Cheong, who only picked up yoga seriously in 2015. That year, she took on yoga from a healing perspective after recovering from a shoulder surgery. She did her yoga training in Singapore.

"Yoga has helped me to become the best version of myself and I think that it is something that everyone should experience.," she says. "Spreading the good vibes through teaching a class and interacting with my students is great, but being able to create something from scratch and to see it come to life is amazing."

She says that Freedom Yoga differs from other studios as she tries to cultivate a community culture, among its members. For example, its Cecil Street studio has a lounge area where students can gather before or after class. At Holland Village, the studio is next to an acai bowl store, which Freedom Yoga has partnered with to offer discounts for students.

"I want a space for like-minded individuals, with the same intentions and beliefs to come together beyond the studio," says Ms Cheong.

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The communications degree graduate opened her Cecil Street studio even before her graduation ceremony. Despite having no previous full-time working experience, Ms Cheong took the plunge into becoming an entrepreneur. She declined to reveal how much she invested in starting Freedom Yoga.

"Being a young entrepreneur and the new kid on the block, it was hard for people to take me seriously," she says. She received unsolicited advice, such as how she should only hire pretty girls as teachers and to work at the front desk to have a certain brand image.

"I took whatever advice that I felt was applicable. Some people think that Freedom Yoga would not succeed because of my age, but one of my mantras in life - show, not tell - really kept me going," she says.

Before anyone thinks running two yoga studios is a all fun and games, Ms Cheong says otherwise. Besides teaching five classes a week, she works the frontdesk, ferries towels between the two studios, and personally cleans the studios, on top of working on the branding, planning of classes and marketing and events.

But she isn't complaining. "When students share how you have made a change in their lives, whether big or small, that is the most valuable thing about having Freedom Yoga. It gives me reassurance that the hard work and sweat are worth it," she says.