We are rounding up the year with our newest (or not so new) addition to our team, Sonya, who started first as a client back in 2015 then turned into a teacher and now doubles as our Marketing Executive. Get to know Sonya a little more through our interview done by our barre ambassador, Ashley Tang.

1) On vegetarianism and plant-based cuisine: How has this changed your body? Were you always vegetarian?

Growing up I loved meat and hated vegetables. I loved eating fast food and had no association with what was on my plate. I slowly transitioned into a vegetarian diet with my dad for health reasons when I was around 15 and was severely overweight. In the beginning, it was all for “aesthetics”, my main purpose was to shed the pounds. Cutting out red meat then white meat and then everything else. I felt like I had to start over, and it was hard to adjust and know what I could eat during the week. I turned to fresh fruits and vegetables as my foundation, appreciating whole foods for a nutrient-dense diet. Transitioning to a plant-based diet has made me feel so much better. I have so much more energy and feel mentally clearer and lighter.

2) To me, wellness is…

The definition of wellness has changed for me over the past few years. I always thought it was about being your fittest and strongest self. But now I’ve really come to embrace wellness as a balance of your mental and physical state. It’s about looking at yourself as a whole what you expose your mind to, how you train your body, what you are eating, and how you take care of yourself.

3) What do you enjoy about teaching at the studio, and what classes do you teach?

I love seeing how clients improve and become physically stronger as it feels like a personal achievement for me. I felt a flutter in my heart when I saw one client of mine holding a full form plank instead of modifying onto her knees. I also love seeing clients leave the studio with a smile after a workout. Teaching fills me with absolute joy.  I have been teaching Fire and Bootcamp classes mainly and love it. I love incorporating punches and kicks in the cardio intervals – you can go hard or go home with your workout, and I find it the most satisfying to see clients really giving it their all.

4) What does a typical Saturday like for you?

I usually teach Bootcamp on Saturday mornings at Fivelements Habitats. Then, I head straight to Clear Water Bay to see my personal trainer, Resh (@royaltyfitnessreshanga). We switch between weight training and sprints on the track. I love how barre actually helped me with weight training. Everything I learnt in barre from my form and alignment to the intuition of moving my body, creating that mind-body connection and awareness really helps you move using the right muscles without injuring yourself. After a long hour of training, I would go back to Central and have dinner with friends at my favourite restaurant Buenos Aires Polo Club.

5) Last question – favourite vegan/vegetarian restaurant or café here in Hong Kong?

My absolute favourite vegan restaurants are Confusion Plant-based Kitchen and Treehouse. I am all about quality whole foods. The dishes are fresh, and you can definitely taste the difference when you eat at these places. You don’t feel stuffed and uncomfortable, but rather satisfied and full. I recommend the flatbread chips and wraps at Treehouse and for Confusion, try everything! The owners of these restaurants really walk the walk and talk the talk of veganism. I have learnt so much from them and I’ve become more aware of what I put into my body and how I can eat more mindfully.