"You Must Be The Change You Wish To See In The World", Mahatma Gandhi.
Tonight, I would like to write about my personal story... Why I am motivated everyday to do what I do now... why I devote my life now to being a health and fitness coach... Why I decided to make the drastic change to my own lifestyle from a relatively sedentary and stable life of being an office worker to this highly risky, less lucrative and challenging industry...
I was once a workaholic (still am a workaholic now actually!) in banking... My previous career was in investment banking and my previous job before I dropped it all and start Dee Dream and Dee Dances was in debt capital markets... I worked long hours as my previous boss used to say "I never sleep because the market never sleeps"... just in the same way that the Hollywood movie depicting the craziness of investment banking of Wall Street banks entitles itself "Money Never Sleeps"
I loved what I did in a way because I was always learning new things about the global economic systems, politics, current affairs, regulations, accounting, law... And in my prior role in Group Financial Management and Treasury, I really enjoyed the role as I was exposed to the brightest brains making daily decisions on how to run a complex and successful international company... And the decent amount of salary was a good carrot to keep people there when the going got really tough, such as on days when I would work over 24-hours non-stop when a bond deal is being issued in the market...
On weekends, my bosses would come up with "exciting"/competitive ideas of timing ourselves running through a hiking trail at 6am... I would wake up at 5am everyday for work and still try to squeeze in a workout after a long 12-15 hours of work everyday... And we would still have to go out party and drink with our colleagues if need be... Life was very intense indeed... I would work half of every weekend and still go out to party and drink and eat and go to junk boat parties just like all HK people would!
Life came to a screeching halt when I fell very ill one day... I came down with shingles... a sickness I had never known about until the day my doctor broke the news to me that I had it... it is a sickness that normally only hits people with very weak immune systems such as those aged 70 and above, those that have an auto-immune disease, being diagnosed with chemotherapy, etc...
When this happened, alarm bells rang loudly in my head that I could not possibly allow my life to continue the way it was... I was quarantined at home for almost a month and being a person who loves to exercise and not being able to go to gym as I was infectious, I started to turn on music and simply danced to myself in front of a mirror
The song that I loved for some reason at the time was Enrique Iglesias' Bailando... I would turn it on youtube and let it play over and over again, and as youtube automatically loads the next songs on the playlist, I started to learn to appreciate other popular Latin songs... As I looked at myself dance repeatedly the same few steps I knew, my dreamy mind started to wander and imagine how brilliant it would be if I could do what I did and have others dance behind me... I was sweating profusely while enjoying myself thoroughly and time flew by without me noticing... My solitary confinement became bearable!
Little did I know that 3 months later, I would have quit my banking job and made a huge life decision to try to not go back to work for another bank for at least another 2 years... In another 6 months, after experimenting with a few other startup ideas and not making any headway, someone then suggested I did something relating to fitness... I was not very fit and wouldn't be able to pass any of the certification tests then... Zumba then came to mind as I recalled how I enjoyed dancing to myself in the mirror during my sickness... I enrolled myself to obtain a Zumba instructor certificate
I obtained the certificate in 2 days and a few days after, I announced to all my friends, families and ex-colleagues that my first class would be in a month... I committed myself to teaching classes before having learned the dance routines haha... I thought to myself that if I had told everyone, I wouldn't be able to chicken out anymore
A year after my first class, I have had the privilege of teaching, inspiring and motivating about 3000 students in HK... I don't think I am a great teacher yet as I am still so fresh in the industry of dance and fitness coaching... I never went to proper dancing school and neither was I fitness coach or a very fit person before... In fact, I was almost always on the chubby/plump side and loved eating with a bigger passion that fitness! When I quit my job, I actually intended to be a food blogger haha (check out my IG @dddeelicious where I posted all the most delicious food in HK LOL!)
This journey came with many sacrifices:
- physically: not being able to eat what I used to love!, suffering from muscle and joint pains for over-exertion, dancing and teaching through many injuries
- financially: definitely not making as much money as before and income being very unstable and unpredictable; I was struggling in the first half of the year and still have to make daily sacrifices and take a big dip in some of my lifestyle choices
- emotionally: the mental battle of starting a new career in a foreign unfamiliar area and having to compete against big institutions and veterans in the industry that have been around for so long; having to start from scratch from the bottom again in my 30s; not being able to take holidays to rest or visit my family because I need to build a sustainable business; questioning and self doubting myself of whether this is all going to work; my parents being typical Asian parents keep telling me I should just go back into investment banking as it pays the bills and is "prestigious" compared to being a dance and fitness instructor who doesn't need a university education
Despite all these hurdles and obstacles, what really has made me keep going on this tough journey is how I have observed my own health improve drastically and how I wish I could help everyone else achieve this improved physical, mental and emotional health, fitness and energy levels!!!
There are many more things I would love to write on this topic but let's save it for another day ;)
Til next time... take care of your health and continue to inspire and motivate others!!!