Once a professionally-trained flutist and now empowering others through fitness, Anabel Chew, 34, is the co-founder of WeBarre – Asia’s leading barre studio with multiple Singapore and Hong Kong outlets. Anabel exudes her love for motherhood and tiger-mum spirit since becoming a first-time mum to Arya last year and co-founded Tiger Moms Club with influencer Andrea Chong. This is a resource platform for mums and mums-to-be as well as also those who relate to her mom-boss-journey. A regular icon in the media across platforms and topics, Anabel is the picture-perfect example of a young, intelligent and thriving entrepreneur. However, her journey to this stage in her life was no walk in the park.
Her love for music her whole life led her to pursue it professionally much to her parents’ disapproval and was cut off from them financially and emotionally. Armed with a never-say-die attitude, this resolute, go-getter and tenacious beauty has rolled with the punches and come out on top of her game. Besides being the epitome for barre and strength-training in the fitness industry in Asia, she is also an inspiration to young women with her self-confidence, tenacity and grit to success story.
First up, happy belated birthday to baby Arya and congratulations on completing your first year as a mummy. How has motherhood been for you so far?
Thank you! It has been such an amazing year filled with love and so many wonderful memories. I’d like to think I am an accidental mother as I’m not particularly maternal by nature and wasn’t sure for a long time if I wanted to become one! Having Ari has completely changed our lives, and now we cannot imagine life without her in it. I really enjoy being a mother and it is my honour to be able to call myself Ari’s mum.
How has being a mummy changed you? And have those changes affected your role as an entrepreneur and a boss? If so, what has changed?
Before becoming a mother, I was a typical Type A personality, go-getter and someone who doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. While I’m still that person, motherhood has also brought out a more patient side in me (I really hate it when people tell me to be patient) and it’s okay not to have everything under control. My motto in the past year has been “pick your battles”, whether it’s at home or at work. There are just so much to do and not everything will be perfect, but that’s okay. Fight for the things that truly matter and let the little things go.
2020 has been a year of seismic change for many, with Covid affecting every corner of our lives. The WeBarre studios ceased physical operations and you had to quickly pivot the business all while being pregnant at the same time. How did you manage it all?
WeBarre was in the fifth year of operations in 2020, and I had plans to take time off when I hit about 35 weeks. In all five years, I never really took a break! In April 2020, when for the first time in five years, we were ordered to close, it really hit home hard. But that’s the thing about being an business owner – there’s no time to wallow and lament about how horrible, sad and unfair things are. You have to react quickly because your team needs leadership and direction. We called for a few emergency meetings, put a plan in place and a few days later, pivoted our entire business. Me being pregnant didn’t change anything and as long as I’m physically able to, I will keep fighting. In the end, I taught classes until I was 38 weeks and turned on my “Out of Office” responder when I was 40 weeks. Arya arrived fashionably late at 41 weeks, regardless of how many squats I did. Now you know what I mean about ‘patience’ not being one of my virtues?
Did the stress and pressure from all the changes get to you? What did you feel was the lowest point in your motherhood journey last year, and how did Yoga help you through it?
In the 5 plus years of running WeBarre, there have been ups and downs. The downs sometimes affected me a bit more than I would have liked, but I didn’t want to let it get to me. I spent 2019 on a coaching journey to level up professionally and mentally. I wanted to strengthen my mental resilience and learn to build a fortress that can protect me when challenges come my way. So when Covid hit, I was really proud of myself that I took things in my own stride. Yes, I felt the stress and the pressure, but I was able to allow these feelings to be acknowledged, give them space and then allow myself to move on. All my training in mindfulness, stress management and coping mechanisms came in super handy!
What does self-care mean to you, and how has that concept evolved now that you have to juggle motherhood on top of work commitments?
Self-care is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Without filling up my own tank, I cannot care for others. When I am tired and running low, I am not a nice person and I acknowledge that. I recharge best when I’m alone and have some me-time, so I schedule time in my calendar every week for an hour or two where I decide what I want to do, be it a massage, sleep in, spa treatment, solo walk, etc. Yes, there are a lot of things that require my attention, but out of all the time I spend giving to others, I only need that small pocket of time to myself so I don’t think that’s too much to ask. People around me will understand!
We’d love to find out what’s your regular wellness and beauty regime. Any tips and hacks for busy mummies like you to look as good as you do?
It really isn’t easy to look as good as I used to after becoming a mother. Sometimes I look at old photos of myself and I sigh. But I try and do what I can, and that includes two to three hours of workouts a week (I do a mix of Barre and HIIT), a few sessions of mindfulness meditation (strengthening the mind is just as important as the body), and I take care of my skin with a simple skincare routine. I believe a properly cleansed skin is the perfect canvas to begin with, so I always begin with a gentle cleanser or exfoliant. If I have time, I will add a toner. If not, I’ll go straight to serums. I’m very into serums lately as it is more intensive. Usually I will skip the moisturizer as I don’t like the feeling of creams on my skin. If I’m headed out, SPF is a must.
Tell us your favourite feature of the Skin Inc Tri-Light™ Body Sculpt Fit, and how do you incorporate it into your regular self-care programme. How did it help you?
I love the warm mode the best! It’s feels so good and my muscles can relax after a long day. It’s like a hot stone massage right in the comfort of my home! I think I should get a few more so I can simultaneously target other areas of my sore body!
And finally, what does #yourbodyourrules mean to you?
It means that there’s no pre-conception of what a beautiful body looks like. My body belongs to me and I decide what I will do with it. I choose to feed it with a balanced, nutritious diet, incorporate an active lifestyle to maintain my cardiovascular health and keep my organs healthy as well as be gracious to myself because everyone’s bodies are so different and that’s the beauty of it.