We talk to multi-hyphenate entrepreneur, reiki healer and mother, Belinda Koo, about balancing corporate life with wellness and fitness businesses. A blend of “persistency and consistency” keeps her going as founder of XYZ and One Ten Foundation, while also being a managing director at UBS.
What are your favourite ways of getting active in Hong Kong, aside from at your XYZ indoor cycling studio?
I love going outdoors when the weather is nice. I’m learning to wakesurf and it’s so refreshing to be out in the water once or twice a week. To me, being active means trying out new things. Things that push your comfort zone a bit, not necessarily really difficult ones, but to create new neuropathways in your brain and allow yourself to move in ways you’ve never moved before. It’s challenging our brain to connect differently, because new activities require different muscle groups to work in whole new ways. It’s that adrenaline rush of the unfamiliar and uncomfortable that I also love and crave.
Why and how did you start XYZ?
The heart is the biggest and most important organ in our body. When my father passed away from a heart attack when I was five years old, it made me realise how crucial cardiovascular movement was – even if it’s just 30 minutes a day to stay active and move around. The heart keeps us pumping, keeps us alive.
What do your day-to-day work and workout outfits look like?
It depends on how I feel and my mood on that particular day. I love to mix and match workout attire with work attire. So it would be leggings and sports-bra tops underneath, with blazer jackets and flowy throws on top. We’ve tended to dress more casually and relaxed in recent years and that allows me to play mix and match with colours I’ve never worn much of before.
How was your own fitness journey? Have you always been sporty and athletic?
I’ve been active and sporty since I was very young. I started ballet when I was four and was in the track-and- field team since primary school. I feel very much alive when I move. I’d observe my breathing and love being in the alter state of being, where my movement just floats and my mind just lets go. To me, movement is meditation – dynamic meditation.
How did your upbringing affect your attitude to life and entrepreneurship?
My mom always told me that rolling stones gather no moss. I think it’s that persistency and consistency that gives me a good foundation to not give up. If I really believe in something, I’ll go for it and “just keep swimming” (like Dory, the blue fish in the Nemo cartoon). As long as the direction is right, the speed doesn’t matter. Failure is just an opportunity to learn and refine the method.
You started One Ten as a social enterprise to bring the benefits of wellness to Hong Kong’s younger generations through sports and support. Where did you see the need and how is this important in shaping young minds?
We’ve all been there, knowing how hard a young adult’s life can be, not to mention the challenges they’ve encountered in the past few years. But what would be possible if our society were composed of emotionally intelligent people? Investing in youngsters is the starting point to make our dream come true. By educating the interdependence between mind, body and emotions, even youngsters with less access to resources stand a higher chance of surviving life-changing transitions. Our unique blend of emotional learning and non-competitive sports help support them in exploring their unique pathway to emotional wellbeing and resilience.
Since Covid-19 there’s been an increased awareness of the importance of mental and physical health. How has this been manifested in your circles and with your clients?
Nurturing the mental and physical has always been at the core of what I do. Raising awareness means growing with and spreading this to those around us, to help them on their journey too. Gaining inspiration and awareness from the outside, and using it to transform on the inside. Everyone’s journey is different.
You work with Reiki too. How do healing and wellness tie in with the journey of fitness?
Most of us only attend to our physical bodies, but there are actually more layers in our bodies: energy body, astral body and causal body. I’m a total believer in the metaphysical side of things and our physical body is just a reflection of our emotional wellbeing. Our seven chakras, or energy centres, dominate our hormone systems. Therefore understanding our emotions and emotional literacy is the key to physical wellbeing. We can never separate our body from our mind. They’re one and we should nurture them like that.
What are the routines that keep you grounded personally?
At home, I’ll smudge the environment, play a mantra, lie down on a mat with both feet Grounded on the floor – kick off the shoes – and just breathe. If I’m outdoors or in nature, I take off my shoes and walk barefoot on the ground.
What does your workout routine look like?
Setting intention, observing my breathing and going into the zone. Each workout is like a genuine conversation and search of myself. And, of course, to have fun.
Who are your style icons?
I don’t actually have a style icon. I kind of live in my own imaginary world when it comes to style. Mix and match and let it flow!
You switch between corporate dressing at UBS and more casual and athletic at your fitness businesses. Do you like the transition and what does each style say about you?
I love combining the two for seamless transition. As my schedule is always here and there, I like the freedom of athleisure wear and the structure of corporate attire. It really depends on my mood that day.
You’re a busy woman professionally, as well as a mother. Tell us what’s always in your bag.
Water, headphones, two phones and a charger, La Mer lip balm and hand cream. It’s quite simple.
Where in Hong Kong do you find the most inspiration?
I can find inspiration everYwhere here. Hong Kong is such a dynamic city.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
We add resistance to training to strengthen our physical body. Difficulties in life are just opportunities to strengthen our mental mind and faith.
How do you like to wind down your day?
Spend time with my kids, my husband and my dog Snoopy. Then it’s me me time to reflect on my day, to journal and end with a breathing exercise/meditation to put full closure to the day. I believe in properly starting the day by setting the intention, and closing the day by scanning ourselves with gratitude. To let go of any entanglement and judgement we’ve made on ourselves and others, to acknowledge it, accept it with gratitude, then let it go.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to follow your footsteps?
Things change little by little. Little things add up to be big, big, big!