I was born in the Philippines. My family emigrated to Winnipeg, Manitoba when I was two years old. However, my family made sure that I understood where I came from, and we practiced all the Filipino traditions we could – from food, music, dance, and other Filipino customs. Growing up in a traditional Filipino family – I was always expected to be a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. My parents just wanted what they thought would be best for me and my future. So, after I graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the Asper School of Business and a double Major in Marketing and Entrepreneurship, I ended up working in the Finance Industry for almost 14 years earning my Canadian Securities License, Insurance License and Financial Planning Designations. I hated it.
Never in my life, did I ever think that I would ever become a Personal Trainer. It’s not what Filipinos do. It’s not a traditional career choice. Fitness, sports, or even healthy active living is not discussed, or it may be even frowned upon in many Filipino households. I didn’t even tell my parents that I made a career change. However, when they did find out, just like most parents, they were fully supportive (and worried). As a kid, I was active in all the school sports and tried to make fitness a regular part of my life. Being of Asian descent, working in the fitness industry means a lot to me as it has enabled me to follow my passion for fitness. It has also been one of the most rewarding choices I’ve ever made. Growing up as a “chubby” Filipino – the fitness industry has transformed not only my health and physique – but it gave me the confidence to dream big and work towards bigger goals! The ability to experience and witness my personal training clients’ transformations through life – happiness, confidence, stress levels, energy levels and life accomplishments, and realizing this is something I helped them with – it will always be a part of me. I am making my parents proud (I’m just a different kind of doctor – lol).
Being one of very few Filipino Personal Trainers 16 years ago – I had self-confidence issues. I was short (still short), inexperienced, had no network, and had no clients (I didn’t see many Filipinos or Asians in the gym at all, never mind having them hire a personal trainer). How was anyone going to take me seriously? My family and Asian friends were not the “fitness” type of people. Honestly, I don’t think I ever faced any racism, as the fitness industry has been very welcoming and supportive. It was all a mental game and challenge for me. To overcome this “adversity”, I did what I knew best, which was Marketing. I held FREE outdoor bootcamps to get my name out there. Being outside with high energy movements and infectious music, my “Human Billboards” (free bootcamp participants) were able to generate a decent traffic flow and recruit and refer many of their friends. I also took advantage of continuing education courses and opportunities to deepen my knowledge and strengthen my confidence. I then used myself as the ultimate marketing tool and entered a bodybuilding competition where I completely transformed my physique down to 5% body fat. I had to understand the struggles of what I was asking of my clients -not to the extreme of bodybuilding – but about the lifestyle change I was asking them to make. Through that marketing, transformation, and continual self-development, I’ve been fortunate enough to have built a successful Fitness Business!
Today, I own and operate my own Fitness Business with clients across Canada and the United States. I am a part owner of an International Fitness Franchise. I collaborate with local community groups, small businesses, and large corporations helping them develop and run their Wellness Programs. I’ve been featured in numerous newspapers, magazines, and local TV and radio shows as a fitness expert and fitness model. I’ve written and published a book and have been a canfitpro PRO TRAINER for the last three years.
I have always been active in the Filipino community (I even owned and operated a Filipino Community Newspaper Business). I was recently invited to the Alberta Filipino Leaders Convention and continue to volunteer at various community events. I’ve been invited to speak to the Chinese Student Association at the University of Calgary multiple times on the topic of Wellness and Time Management. I’ve held health and fitness workshops for many Newcomer/New Immigrant Associations to help educate them on the importance of healthy active living. To celebrate Asian Heritage month, I will be reaching out to the local Airdrie Filipino Association to offer them a Fitness Bootcamp Fundraiser to help them assist new Filipino families moving into Airdrie.
All three of my kids were born and are being raised in Canadian culture, but I do make sure that we still celebrate being Filipino. We frequent many of the Filipino restaurants and grocery stores as well as attend many Filipino celebrations. They may not be fluent in the language/dialect, but they will always know and value where their dad is originally from.