Hong Kong’s wellness scene is well and truly booming, with a new fitness studio, healthy vegan restaurant or wellness boutique opening up every other week. But who were the people who got the ball rolling on Hong Kong’s fitness scene? We’re rounding up the fitness founders in Hong Kong who launched the gyms, studios and fitness concepts that have helped get Hong Kong active.
Carol and Becky are the co-founders of The Practice, an eco-conscious yoga studio located in the heart of Central. Both found yoga as an escape from their hectic city lives and found themselves increasingly drawn to the practice. Together, they founded their studio in 2017, with the aim to offer Hongkongers a safe place to practice that focuses on meeting their clients varied needs, flexibilities and more.
Teddy has firsthand experience in leaving behind a life of unhealthy habits and approaches to life. Six years ago, after investing in himself, through gymnastics, mixed martial arts and numerous other approaches to physical fitness, he founded Crossfit852. He’s since travelled the world in search of further challenges – even under the tutelage of Cirque du Soleil performers. This spurred him to found Trybe, Hong Kong’s leading centre for aspiring acrobats, gymnasts and weightlifters to push themselves to their very limits.
With more than 15 years of Pilates teaching under her belt, classically trained ballerina Heather has made it her mission to give Hongkongers a holistic Pilates experience, no matter their level. From humble beginnings, her Hong Kong studio Flex has since opened a secondary studio in Wong Chuk Hang, while the flagship Central space has recently undergone an expansion and renovation to accommodate a constantly growing client base.
Colin has seized opportunities wherever they arose. A former competitive tennis player, he used the prize money from his first tournament so set up his first business, aged only 18. From there, his entrepreneurial spirit led him to found a tennis clothing company. A chance encounter on a golfing holiday led him to take a yoga class with his would-be business partner. Some years later, PURE was founded, and the rest—they say—is history.
Brothers Ant and Ed are health and performance specialists with Coastal Fitness, a strength and conditioning centre in Hong Kong. Both former international rugby players, the gym co-founders are both recognised among the top personal trainers in the city. Ed is dedicated to honing his craft and sharing what he’s learned with clients, while cross-fit champion Ant is motivated by seeing his clients achieve the goals they’ve fought to reach.
A Managing Director at UBS, Belinda sought solace in fitness and cardio as a way to cope with grief and to channel the stresses and pressures of corporate life. This outlet became a passion. The XYZ spinning studio was founded as space for others to immerse themselves in the positive energy that comes with exercise and to see the benefits that fitness can have on mind, body and soul.
After falling into his practice almost by accident, Victor became immersed in the world of yoga, and has studied at leading ashrams around the world under acclaimed yogis. He runs yoga and Pilates classes across Beijing, conducting sessions in both English and Mandarin, as well as international ‘Victor Chau Yoga’ retreats. Founder of the Yoga Mentorship Programme, Victor continues to give back to the Hong Kong yoga community by helping other yogis find their feet in the industry.
Having left behind a career in investment banking, Neelam utilised her lifelong passion for yoga to found her business, Inspire Yoga. Having been an active yogi for 12 years and counting, Neelam focuses on helping people practice yoga in a happy and healthy way, no matter their fitness levels of physical conditions. Promoting yoga as a lifestyle and a method of self-care, Neelam’s approach integrates meditative, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Korean wellness practices.
Vanessa is living proof that a creative mind and driven spirit can help you realise your dreams, no matter how diverse they may be. She is the founder of Crossfit Asphodel, non-profit organisation The Keep Moving Project (dedicated to providing wellness services to schools and underprivileged communities), and Quo, a line of coconut-based beverages. She’s also the brains behind the urban-renewal project, The Mills, an art and textile hub in Tsuen Wan.
Alex has been voted Hong Kong’s best trainer on more than one occasion, rising to the top of his game. A serial entrepreneur, he has been instrumental in setting up a number of fitness-focused business for active spirits, including Bikini Fit. Today, he is the founder and CEO of Pherform, Hong Kong’s first women’s only fitness centre. Alex leads a team of fitness coaches and yoga instructors whose mission it is to keep women fighting fit.
Billy is the founder of Warrior Muay Thai, LIGHTS//OUT boxing club and WIT Fitness. A former architect, he found his feet in the world of health and fitness when he opened Warrior back in 2013, and hasn’t looked back since. Billy prides himself on the ability to help people achieve long-term goals and see continued results.
After relocating to Hong Kong 11 years ago, Dee Cheung has channelled her entrepreneurial spirit into the wellness industry. She is the founder of two businesses – FloatOn, a sensory deprivation tank centre, and SUP Yoga. Dee recently re-entered the world of finance, though still has a thriving yoga practice—plus as a new Mum, Dee is living proof that you really can have it all, and that hard work, a positive mentality and prioritising what matters most to you can lead to lasting happiness.
Fitness coach, trainer, public speaker, and sports brand 2XU ambassador, Tricia wears many hats. She began by co-founding the women’s only boot camp Bikini Fit, now defunct, and went on to co-found Warrior Academy and become director of Goji Studios. Tricia encourages people to push themselves harder, work to achieve their goals, and stay motivated. Whether she’s speaking one on one to a client or delivering words of encouragement to a room full of people at a TED talk, her words never seem to fall on deaf ears.
Estelle is a results-based trainer who uses Pilates to help others find their fitness, heal existing injuries and achieve physical goals – something she is very familiar with herself, having represented France as a gymnast some years earlier. As the founder of Anhao Wellness studio in Hong Kong, she left behind a career in investment banking in 2012, to pursue her passion for fitness.
Gianni Melwani, Gary Wan & Charles Ng
The co-founders of the Hong Kong-based Hybrid Group are the wellness entrepreneurs who founded IRIS: Your Escape—Hong Kong’s leading wellness event—and brought the Spartan Race to the city. The two-day outdoor IRIS festival brings thousands of like-minded people together to celebrate all things wellness, from yoga and meditation seminars to eco-conscious workshops and more.