Anabel Chew’s love for fitness led her to co-found WeBarre. Barre, a form of exercise which uses the ballet barre and incorporates movements derived from ballet, is one of the fastest growing fitness trends in the world.
What’s your story?
Born and raised in Singapore, I have spent my entire life pursuing my passion for music. I play the piano the flute from a young age, and eventually went on to studying music through university in Australia and pursuing a career as a professional musician. As much as music is about the art form, it is also rather taxing on the physical body, so I always stayed active through yoga and HIIT classes to stay in shape. Eventually, this love for fitness also became an unexpected career turn for me, when I founded WeBarre with Linda back in 2016.
What excites you most about your industry?
I love how it’s a happy place for many people – where you throw aside your to-do lists, stress and take time in one’s busy day to feed into your body. There is a shift towards spending time and money to take care of yourself, having some ‘me time’, and working on achieving a healthy body. I’m excited to be part of such an empowering and positive industry.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I’ve lived overseas through my life, but Singapore remains home. My family and friends are all based here!
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Without a doubt, Hong Kong. The city never sleeps. Whenever I’m in Hong Kong I feel the pumping intensity of the city… everyone moves at a quicker pace, everything is efficient. And because it’s such a competitive landscape, people are hungry and are driven.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Surround yourself with great people. There’s a saying that you are the average of all the people you spend time with, and that’s so true! You never want to be the smartest person in the room. Being able to surround yourself with people who challenge you to think outside the box, inspire you to do better and help you break through to your next level personally is very valuable.
Who inspires you?
I am inspired by people who push through the odds – not because they want to show off and prove a point, but because they refuse to be defeated. People who are struggling and dealing with something in their own lives, but choose to show up. People who grow up without privilege but are determined to make their mark in the world. People who are brave enough to face their inner demons and not let it swallow them up. People who are motivated to create their best lives yet. People who don’t find excuses for themselves. And these people could be walking down the street, sitting beside you on the plane… it doesn’t have to be someone famous or well known because we have so many extraordinary individuals amongst us.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Nature just blows me away, time and time again. I must say, I am pretty good at catching mozzies and flies with my swift hands, but it frustrates me when I miss it! And recently I read in an article that animals that are smaller than us see the world in slow-mo because they detect the flickers in light much more quickly than humans! Everything in nature is created by design, to survive, to adapt, to thrive – and the magnitude of the universe not only amazes me but makes me feel like we are only one small part of this amazing creation.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would be kinder to myself and take bigger risks. I was offered a postgraduate master’s degree position at an Ivy League school in the US to further my music education but I hesitated because I was worried about my financial ability. I thought it was better to start working and save up first, and eventually, I didn’t end up going. I don’t regret my decision, because life turned out the way I wanted, but it would have been interesting to see where life takes me, now knowing that if I put my heart into anything, there’s not much that I cannot achieve! Growing up in an Asian family with high expectations and strict upbringing, I felt that I was a little too hard on myself sometimes. Granted, it allowed me to push harder and not give up when the going gets tough, but it’s important to find a balance, and being aware that your inner voice has a lot more power than you think.
How do you unwind?
Sleep! Good sleep can almost cure and solve anything. I make it a point to have 8-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. On weekends when I have time to myself, I unwind by taking care of my body – taking a long bath, lighting candles, body scrubs, facial masks… without any mobile phones, computers or TV.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Danang, Vietnam. I make it a point to return every year. It’s getting very popular now and crowded with lots of tourists and hotels being built everywhere possible, but it was such a haven 4-5 years ago. The beaches are pristine, beautiful and the water is clear. The airport is not far from most beach resorts, and with direct flights from Singapore to Danang, it’s the perfect getaway without spending too much time on the road. During the periods of November through March the weather is cool and lovely to be around. The historic cities of Hoi An and Hue are just a short drive away if I want to get out of the hotel for some sightseeing. And lastly, Vietnamese food. Need I say more?
Everyone in business should read this book:
Grit by Angela Duckworth
Shameless plug for your business:
WeBarre is the leading Barre studio in Asia, with 8 locations across Singapore and Hong Kong. We are more than a fitness studio – we empower and challenge you to be the best version of yourself, made possible by our close-knit community and the addictive burn that will leave you wanting more!
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.