For most people, exercise and relaxing don’t seem to belong in the same sentence. In yoga, though, these elements come together in a workout that both clears the mind and tones the body. Practiced for centuries before, yoga at its heart remains simple: it’s just you and your mat.
This was the philosophy that drew Jennifer Martinez to yoga, and inspired her to start YogaHub Philippines. The fact that it feels inclusive was also a factor. “I am drawn to yoga, because you don’t have to be an expert to do it!” she explains. “Yoga knows no size, age or body size. This is actually the reason behind YogaHub’s tagline: real people, real yoga.”
“I was looking for an exercise that would complement my running, since I was having a hard time breathing every time I ran,” Jen recalls of how she got into the workout. “That’s when I found a Yoga for Runners workshop, and I fell in love with it instantly.”
With yoga, she found she could properly control her breathing, and became stronger and more flexible—things she had previously thought were impossible. Aside from that, she felt it kept her spiritually aligned. “Aside from its physical benefits, yoga has contributed positively on my outlook on life,” she admits. “On days that I feel really down or when I get stuck in a cycle of unhealthy thoughts, yoga is there to boost my serotonin levels, and help me break free from whatever I’m feeling that day.”
Jen soon became a certified yoga teacher, and started holding public and private classes around the city. The idea of YogaHub came in soon after, when her husband pushed her to open a studio. Now, YogaHub is the leading yoga studio in Cebu and has helped the exercise gain popularity among Cebuanos.
YogaHub recently expanded to a second branch, which Jen feels was timely considering the way the fitness landscape in Cebu has changed over the past few years. “It’s growing really fast, and I love that we now have so many different types of exercises to choose from,” she adds.
Juggling time between running her studios and being a mother of two, Jen admits every day is not a walk in the park. “The challenge is keeping the standard of quality of the studio—that there are excellent and qualified teachers for every class, and that there is always delightful service from our staff. Sometimes there are just things that are out of your control, and that means we have to cancel classes.”
Aside from yoga, Jen also alternates between TRX and cross training, and follows that up with eating clean. “When you practice yoga, it’s only natural that you have a better mind and body connection. In a way, it draws you to a healthier lifestyle,” she explains. “I just make sure I get a little bit of everything. I am vegetarian, but that doesn’t mean that I deprive myself of eating what I like. It’s all about balance.”
The balance in important, because Jen believes wellness goes beyond the physical. “It’s about beaing aware of waht is working in your life and improving upon it, and what’s not working in your life and actually doing something positive about it.”
Yoga is certainly a fitness regimen that does more than improves your body. It affects you on a spiritual and emotional level that, in the end, greatly improves the quality of life. Jen Martinez is certainly proof of that.