For GJ, founder of Trapeze, #daringtodream means living a life of balance
In our Dare to Dream series, we invite 12 inspiring individuals who have courageously stepped out of their comfort zones to dream about a future they can truly call their own.
When asked about the catalyst for starting Trapeze Rec. Club (a new holistic wellness space in Singapore offering a mix of yoga classes, spa, sauna and more), wellness entrepreneur GJ cites working long hours and a health scare which made her leave her high-stress job. Speaking to GJ now, however, it’s clear that balance is something invaluable to her – not just professionally but personally as well.
As an advocate of mental health, GJ has experienced firsthand how focusing on wellness can really make a huge difference in an individual’s life. She hopes that TRC can do just that, by creating a space for people to be well and stay well. For GJ, #daringtodream is about carving space for balance in her life, and advocating for the importance of mental well-being.
In this interview, we talk to her about her vision for TRC, when she first learnt about money, and habits that have positively impacted her life today.
What does your ideal retirement look like?
I think I’ve always liked the idea of retiring early, to enjoy spending time with my family and live life how it was meant to be lived—slow and intentional. I’d like to settle down somewhere quiet, with a beautiful garden that I’ve helped to cultivate, a couple of kids and dogs, and use that as a base of which I’d travel from.
In your mind, what does #futurefit mean to you?
It means truly being well in many different aspects of my life—from being physically healthy, to mentally resilient, to financially stable, and so on. Every one of these things affects the other, so finding a balance and keeping all of these things in alignment is important to guarantee an ideal future.
How did you wind up doing what you are doing today?
I spent a few years in management consulting at BCG, helping large companies grow bigger, and I figured I’d use the skillset I’d acquired to grow something from scratch, This, coupled with my keen interest in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, yoga, and S&C (strength & conditioning), led to the birth of Trapeze.
I started Trapeze, a wellness-focused lifestyle company, late last year. We aim to build a portfolio of health and wellness concepts. The first concept I was inspired to build is a holistic wellness club called Trapeze Rec. Club, a four-story space in a pre-war art deco shophouse along Tanjong Pagar Road.
It was driven by a vision to see a world in which people are well. I wanted to create spaces and products that could help people find their balance in life. Our ethos for Trapeze Rec. Club is ‘Playful Balance’ and we believe in not taking ourselves too seriously. The aim is to advocate, destigmatize, and make all aspects of wellness accessible to all, and have fun while we’re at it.
Balance is obviously important to you. Was there a time in your life when you felt your life was “off-balance” and if so, what did you do?
For sure! I was working long hours in my previous job, travelling around the region from Mondays to Thursdays which obviously took a toll on my mental and physical health. My doctor actually told me that I had high blood pressure and would need to start taking medication (at the mere age of 25) if I didn’t make changes to my lifestyle.
I think that was pretty much the catalyst for me to want to leave my job and start my own business – which is why I now place so much emphasis on my team’s wellbeing. Of course, running my own business has its stressors, but it’s very much something I’m in control of and as long as I’ve built up a strong team, delegating work helps to take the load off.
I experienced firsthand how a focus on wellness (every dimension of it, be it physical, emotional, spiritual) can really change the way you show up in the world, and how you feel in your own skin.
Given that mental wellness is a topic we still shy away from in Singapore, what inspired you to set up Trapeze?
When I was in college, I experienced firsthand how a focus on wellness (every dimension of it, be it physical, emotional, spiritual) can really change the way you show up in the world, and how you feel in your own skin. I had a rough time for a period when I was in England, and one of the things that really got me through was this awesome gym in my small college town. Another thing that really helped was starting therapy. I’d be a different person if not for therapy… it helped me work through so much of my (issues).
Given that, I wanted to be able to create spaces and products that could help other people be well and stay well – which is how the idea for Trapeze Rec. Club was born. We’re marrying all your “mainstream” forms of wellness (fitness, yoga, health food, physiotherapy) with less mainstream forms of wellness (in Singapore anyway) like mental health therapy.
How do you think topics surrounding mental health can be normalised?
I think we can start by having more vulnerable conversations with our peers, family and friends. As a culture. Singaporeans tend to like to sweep things under the rug, but talking about some of these more “sensitive” topics like depression and anxiety can really help to normalise them.
When did you first learn about money and how do you think that impacted your relationship with it?
One of my earliest memories of money was when I was about 8 or 9. I wanted to earn some money to buy video games. I really loved baking at the time, and thought it would make sense to try and sell what I was making to friends and family. My grandmother and her mahjong friends were my first customers, and very soon after I scaled up and started selling to my primary school classmates. I sold everything from cookies in a jar (I charged $15 for 5 massive cookies) to homemade popcorn, and stationery I had bought from our school’s bookshop (at a mark-up, of course. Not sure how I got away with this one!).
My mom was very supportive of the hustle, and made sure to teach me how to calculate what my revenue, costs, and profits were. I learned very quickly the value of money, that money isn’t easily made, and that you had to work for the things that you wanted.
What’s a habit, belief or behaviour that has positively impacted your life in recent years?
I’ve really reprioritized how I’m spending my time. I’m trying to set aside time every day for meditation and doing yoga. In other words, trying to get into the habit of moving mindfully. I’m also reading CFA prep materials, and when I find the time, I hope to take the exam.
I also like to spend my time chatting with business owners here in Singapore who are passionate about wellness to see if there are any opportunities for partnerships – there are tons of like-minded businesses and initiatives coming up here, and we’d love to be a part of that and build a community.
Also read: For Ee-Ling Lim, entrepreneur and Head of Business Development at 500 Startups, empowering a next-gen of thinkers is her life purpose
What’s the best investment you’ve ever made in yourself?
When I opened my first trading account at 21. I had always been interested in investing – I remember in secondary school, we had to do a simulated trading exercise for an assignment, which really sparked my interest in all things investing. To this day, I still actively research and manage my investment portfolio in my downtime. HODL!
What have you become better at saying ‘no’ to?
(Going through) Circuit Breaker really taught me to respect my own boundaries and my own space. I’ve become better at protecting that and saying “no” to people or situations that might encroach that.
What are little steps our audience can take to be #futurefit?
- Go for therapy! It’s like a tune-up for the mind.
- Strength training – keeps your body fighting fit.
- Invest your money.
Also read: For entrepreneur and co-founder of The Kind Friend Jamie, true success is simply ‘inner peace’
Complete this sentence: “My favourite Autumn app feature to support me in being #futurefit is….”
The Finance Dashboard. It allows me to have a bird’s eye view across multiple bank accounts, investments, and properties. This optimises and greatly simplifies how I’m keeping track of my finances. I also appreciate the Weekly Checklist! I think it’s a great way to set personal aspirations and goals. In this current landscape with fluctuating phases of motivation and curveballs that pop up throughout the year, it helps to stay focused and be reminded of plans for the future.
Follow GJ’s #DaretoDream journey on our socials. This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. Enjoyed this article? Take your little step today – write your dream pledge card for 2022 here.
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