Digital health firm Withings reported a 42% increase in the popularity of yoga in 2020 compared to last year. With gyms and fitness centres having to close their doors, it’s clear that many of us turned to our screens for both a mental and physical release.
“Like most businesses, Covid-19 affected us profoundly. When we first learned that lockdown consisted of not leaving the house, we knew how much it could affect people’s mental health. We took this opportunity to do our part and help share our practice,” says Cara Sanvicente Jose, co-founder of Other Movement (OM), a company she started with her husband Abel that delivers signature yoga and fitness classes set to music.
“When it became clear that we were nowhere close to having lockdown lifted, we started thinking about how we could pivot the company,” she explains. “Based on the positive feedback of the Instagram Live classes, what felt like a natural next step for us was to start a library of class videos so people could still take part in our Signature classes as well as the other classes we were developing.”
One of the positive things that came out of this lockdown has been the opportunity to enjoy content from all over the world. Despite the OM studio being headquartered in Manila, Philippines, through their OM at Home programme, members are able to book a Zoom class or access a video library of pre-recorded classes including HIIT, pre-natal, meditation, animal flows, gentle flows, and even deep-dive pose tutorials.
I decided to do a one-month trial of the OM at Home and what I loved the most about the platform was that I had the ability to join live classes if I needed that push that only real-time engagement can give you, or I could easily scroll through the library to find a class that fit my mood and schedule. The team at OM makes it a point to cater for all levels, providing alternatives to more difficult moves and offering classes for beginners all the way to more advanced yogis.
My favourite classes were the 50-minute music-driven OM Signature Vinyasa class, both challenging and relaxing, and the express 15-20-minute sessions that I could easily squeeze into my day. I decided to speak with Jose to find out more about how they pivoted their business model and what a regular day in her life looks like in the new normal.
Was this always the career you thought you’d end up with?
Yes, definitely! I’ve always loved fitness and design, and OM allows me to marry the two. However, I never thought I would end up opening a yoga studio and was even more surprised at how much I’ve come to love yoga as much as I do today.
What sort of training did you undertake before you launched OM?
Apart from the minimum 200-hour Yoga Alliance yoga teacher training, we had an OM teacher training course to get our teachers ready to lead our Signature Power Vinyasa flow.
In your opinion, what makes OM different from other yoga studios out there?
In the studio, we flow to feel-good music combined with candlelight, allowing our students to have fun and focus on themselves, free of any judgement. Moreover, we make sure to treat everyone who walks into our studio like a friend. Design-wise, the space was created to feel welcoming and safe, a place to hang out at even when there are no classes going on. Be it the physical space or marketing and tech, design is a big thing for us!
Who is your typical OM customer?
Someone who is open-minded and looking to feel empowered by him or herself.
What does a regular day in your life look like?
In lockdown, my days have been slightly similar to one another. I begin the day meditating to help ready myself for everything coming my way. Washing my face with ice cold water does wonders to get me ready, too! I usually go for a run or go cycling and end it with a yoga flow. After a shower, I get into work. Apart from e-mails and designing, I’m in constant communication with my team, be it for our website, video shoots, marketing, product development, partnerships, instructors schedule, or anything else.
Around 6pm, I start prepping for the night’s Zoom flow by doing a sound check with the instructor and moderator. After class, I look forward to dinner with my family then chill with my husband. We love ending the night sound tripping with some music and candles or watching a movie.
What is it like owning and running a business with your husband and what would you say are the most challenging parts?
We’ve only been married for a year and a half and it’s truly felt like a rollercoaster ride. After our wedding, we quickly dove into becoming business partners, and even classmates while we did our OM instructor training, which we skipped our honeymoon for! Together we worked on the product, brand, studio, talked to suppliers, found our team, fixed our schedule, found our space, did all the paperwork, etc.
I’m really grateful to have him as my business partner. It forced us to have discussions and make decisions that I never expected to have to face this early on. It also helps us assess things from two different perspectives. It’s helped me become open to something I might not have originally thought of. It’s a blessing to have him; he is the yin to my yang and together we make a team. We actually feel like OM is our first baby.
As we all know, nutrition is so important in leading a healthy lifestyle. What are your favourite things to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
For breakfast, I love making a cup of cordyceps with cacao or a matcha latte. For the latter, the process of whisking the matcha, adding in the almond milk and honey feels very therapeutic in the morning. This is followed by either an acai, spirulina, or cacao protein smoothie bowl with lots of bananas and blueberries.
Lunch is always grilled or sautéed veggies, fish or chicken, and some quinoa or rice. My aunt started growing okra in her garden so I’ve been recently obsessed with having it for lunch. Dinner is almost always the same as lunch; protein and greens, except I usually end up having something sweet at the end, such as sugar-fried bananas, honey-baked cashews, or anything sweet.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions people have about yoga?
That you need to be flexible. I often hear this and I, myself, thought this before I started practicing. We love to spread the message that yoga is for everyone and it’ll meet you where you’re at, mentally and physically. If you’re able to carve out an hour of your day to arrive on your mat and clear your mind, whether you get to do all the poses or not, that’s already yoga. We all start somewhere!
Tell me more about your new online platform and how you’ve pivoted during Covid-19.
The idea of Instagram Live classes at that time felt so foreign. We weren’t sure how people would respond, especially considering that our studio does candlelight heated yoga classes. But at that point, we just really wanted to help give what we could to whoever wanted it. Within a week of lockdown, we began doing donation-based Instagram Live classes, where 100% of donations went towards Covid-19 relief for frontliners in the Philippines. It warmed our hearts to get messages from people saying our classes were helping them through the lockdown. We kept this on for about a month and were able to come up with a significant amount of money to help various hospitals.
We decided to do pre-recorded classes because it mirrored our reasoning for doing candlelit classes – the class is focused on you. No judgement, no schedule to follow, you do you when you want and where you want. After two months, when things started settling into the ‘new normal’, we felt it was the right time to bring in our Zoom classes. These classes are a nice supplement to the video library classes because students are able to create connections with other students and our teachers and get hands-on adjustments too. To keep the quality high, we have a maximum of 12 students per class.
With this we’ve been able to create a small community of students going to the same classes and we’ve found students looking forward to seeing each other, which is really nice! It feels very intimate, almost as if you were doing yoga with your best friends, except these are mostly strangers you just happened to be in the same Zoom class with! Making new friends this way is one of the awesome surprises that Covid-19 has brought us. It’s exciting to work on this platform. it almost feels like a tech company.
If you had a friend visiting Manila for the first time, where would you send them for 1) brunch 2) dinner 3) drinks?
This is so difficult!
Brunch – Grace Park for a hearty, Filipino-style farm to table experience.
Dinner – Toyo Eatery and Lampara for different takes on Filipino food.
Drinks – 12/10. Drinks, food, dessert, ambiance are all top notch!
What are your favourite cities in the world for 1) shopping 2) dining 3) culture?
Shopping – Madrid, Florence, Hong Kong, SF.
Dining – Tokyo, SF, Oakland, New York.
Culture – Kyoto, Prague, Amsterdam, New Orleans have definitely stood out for me.
Address: OPL Building, 100 C. Palanca, Legaspi Village, Makati City, Manila, Philippines
Phone: +632 7909 7596
You can access Other Movement’s signature classes and video library no matter where you are in the world through othermovement.online.