Betty Kong and Jasmine Chong, co-founders of Lab Studios, want to help women build both their inner and physical strength by providing a safe and engaging space to work out
In 2016, Betty Kong and Jasmine Chong came together to start Lab Studios, offering people a conducive space for yoga and barre workouts. For the duo, the variety of spaces that they have set up is not just for people to burn calories but also a safe haven to temporarily break away from external stressors and just focus on their well-being.
From a single humble yoga studio, the ladies have built their mini empire to offer a range of workouts (yoga, barre and reformer Pilates) with several studios across Singapore. Most recently in January, Lab Studios at Joo Chiat started offering reformer Pilates classes called The Flow Pilates by Lab Studios, through a one-of-akind collaboration with Kuala Lumpur Pilates specialists The Flow Studio. A low impact yet high intensity strength-based workout, the class will showcase The Flow Studio’s unique Dynamic Reformer techniques that really give your body topto-toe conditioning.
In launching The Flow Pilates by Lab Studios, Kong and Chong aim to redefine cross-training in a mindful fitness space without compromising on efficiency, effectiveness and safety. “There is now increasing awareness of the benefits of cross-training with Pilates. Yogis will find that Pilates will reinforce their practice, while gym goers will find improved flexibility with Pilates. Flow Pilates offers an alternative safe workout that helps to build muscle and strength,” says Kong.
Lab Studios in Holland Village opened up last year, offering yoga and barre classes
On top of this new studio, Lab Studios has launched four Yoga Lab and Barre Lab branches in the past five years, including Lab Studios in Holland Village that opened in August 2021.
“When we launched Lab Studios, I envisioned a sanctuary for people from all walks of life to be able to come and explore what was possible with their mind-body connection,” says Chong. “Whether it’s yoga, barre or Pilates, at home or in our studios, our mission remains the same: To experience a journey of growth, on and off the mat, with our community.”
From running the day-to-day operations to teaching classes and managing over 40 instructors, the two ladies definitely do have their hands full on top of being mothers to young children. In this interview with Options, the ladies behind Lab Studios share their journey and how their roles are helping to uplift the community.
Reformer Pilates is Lab Studios’ latest offering
Please tell us a bit about yourselves.
Betty Kong (BK): I was born in Hong Kong and lived in Canada before moving to Singapore about 14 years ago. I have been in this fitness industry for quite a while now and after being in Singapore for about two years, I opened my own yoga studio in 2013, Updog, where Jasmine later joined me as an instructor.
Jasmine Chong (JC): I was previously in the banking industry and I was not a fan of the corporate world. I eventually left that to give being a yoga instructor a try and that was when I joined Betty at Updog. This was when I realised a gap in the market for more affordable and accessible classes, as back then you needed to sign on a membership with a studio to enjoy the classes. I then approached Betty to start this venture and the rest is history. BK: Shortly after we started Lab Studios together, we decided to merge everything so that it can flow better. And here we are today with four Yoga Lab and Barre Lab studios and our new The Flow Pilates by Lab Studios.
Can you share some important milestones in your career?
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BK: I started Lab Studios with Jasmine in 2016 and we first offered only yoga classes. But after a while, we came out of our comfort zone to offer barre classes. We visualised Lab Studios as being able to offer more than just yoga. So, we went for barre training — which was tough — but we made it happen. We realised that we can be good at a few things and now have recently added reformer Pilates to our offerings.
JC: My first milestone was leaving my corporate job to teach yoga full-time in 2013, and the next was opening up our first Yoga Lab at Club Street in 2016. Another milestone is the Covid-19 pandemic, which has reminded us to be humble because we are not in control of everything. Despite all the challenges during the pandemic, we managed to create a partnership with The Flow Studios in Kuala Lumpur to offer our latest concept — The Flow Pilates by Lab Studios.
What does it mean to be a woman in a leadership role in the fitness industry?
JC: A lot of larger-scaled gyms are owned by men but more than half of the offerings target women. I believe that Betty and I are in a powerful position to provide something for our own community. As business leaders, men are perceived to be a lot more decisive while women lack assertiveness. Times have changed and this has improved but not all the way yet. [As women,] we can own the industry if we give ourselves the permission to and not be afraid to put forward what we believe in. There is a lot of power in being feminine and a lot of strength to be extracted from being women in business. We understand emotions and other women’s needs, because we are more in-tune.
BK: Coming from an Asian family, girls have been brought up to be a certain way — to be quiet and stay in line. But I have learned to not be afraid to speak up and own the space. The challenge is to find the fine line between owning the space and not being too aggressive, yet being impactful.
What do you love about your job?
JC: I love the challenges that our business presents. I feel alive as an entrepreneur, because I have to change and adapt to an ever-changing environment. My job also helps me solidify the belief I have in myself, because I managed to come out stronger from the pandemic. As a mother, I appreciate this job as it provides me some flexibility in my schedule to spend time with my family, compared to a corporate job.
BK: I love that I can continue to create a platform for the community and give the community a place to relax and have fun. I am happy that I’m able to provide this space to help people with their fitness and wellness goals. Lab Studios is also a platform for those who aspire to be teachers and hence enforces growth within the community.
How do you think that you are effecting positive change?
JC: The work we do here empower women to take care of themselves and prioritise selfcare. The space and programmes that we have created make is accessible for women to come forth and create something for themselves.
BK: The impact I effect is what I want to show my seven-yearold daughter. When I’m at work, I will give it my 100% and be present. This is similar to when I’m at home and give my family my all. Sometimes, I have to remember that it is okay for my daughter to see me busy and not feel the guilt. Different women have different roles and all roles are respected.
What are some of your hopes for the future?
JC: I hope that the world can become a more beautiful place, especially in times of adversity. I hope that beauty can come through more, especially in times like these, where love can be spread instead of animosity. For myself, I hope to continue staying true to myself and my family and I hope not to be swayed by what the world thinks is necessary. I hope to have the courage to find peace within myself and always trust my inner voice.
BK: I hope that we one day will not have to continue talking about women’s rights, that one day it will just be rights of all people. I think the world has progressed, but there is still a long way more for equality. I hope for my daughter to be able to go out there and be a leader and not be called bossy for being one.
What advice do you have for other women out there?
JC: There is no such thing as being perfect. Don’t spend all your effort trying to be perfect, because there is more beauty in imperfection. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, especially when things get overwhelming.
BK: Don’t be afraid to speak up and don’t be afraid to be yourself. Always remember that your voice matters.