Bianca King, lithe and graceful, walks out of the yoga studio, her toned muscles evident in her workout clothes. Her cheeks are flushed from the yoga class she has just finished taking—specifically, Vinyasa Yoga, defined by the online Yogapedia as “a type of yoga that links movement and breath to attain balance in the mind and body.”
One look at Bianca and the word peace comes to mind. She credits yoga with being one
Although she may have a lot of projects in mind, Bianca King is trying to simply relax.
“I’m currently going with the flow, planting the right seeds and, you know, not pressuring myself to make them grow. I just came from, like, taping a show for 13 months, so I’m still kind of on vacation…
“I’m just kind of staying present right now, like I have to finish the travel show I’m doing now first, and then we’ll see. I used to be the type to say, ‘Oh, I will do this, it’s all mapped out, blahblah.’ But once you hit your early thirties, hmmm, let’s see what happens. Just be open.”
of the reasons for her peaceful, happy aura—and she wants to spread her love for yoga. With this love was born her coownership of the Rockwell franchise of Beyond, a full-service yoga studio chain in the Philippines.
“I can’t be a teacher just yet because it takes a lot of hard work and time to do the teacher training,” Bianca tells YES! Magazine. “At least in this way, I can give back and help spread the wonders of mindfulness and what that has done for me, in my life. It completely changed my entire outlook on life.”
Bianca fell in love with yoga at first sight, when she was 18 years old.
The athletic actress had taken up ballet and jazz as a child, and was a competitive cheerleader in high school. “I like to move with my body,” she recalls.
One day, in a gym where she was a member, she found herself drawn to a Hatha yoga class. According to the website of the Beyond yoga studio chain, www. igobeyondyoga.com, a Hatha Yoga class “consists of simple relaxation, pranayama ( breath control), vinyasa (sun salutation) and asana ( physical postures) to purify, energize, rejuvenate, calm the body and mind.”
From Hatha yoga, Bianca then explored Bikram Yoga—a style of hot yoga performed in a heated room— which she practiced for four years.
“At the tail end of Bikram,” Bianca recounts, “I started practicing more Vinyasa, and it was when I started practicing Vinyasa regularly that my entire yoga practice deepened. It wasn’t about just the body anymore, it was more about yoga of the mind and the body as one.
“That’s when I felt yoga starting to affect my life in positive ways. I was able to focus more, I became more calm, and most important—and the most recent development, I would say, in the last three or four years—I became more mindful. From practicing yoga and then getting into meditation years ago, that’s when I really realized that I wanted to share my love for yoga with other people.”
SHARING THE LOVE
As fate would have it, four non-showbiz yoga practitioners offered Bianca a coownership deal with a franchised branch of the Beyond yoga studio—the one in Rockwell Center, Makati City. The first two branches were in Quezon City and at the Bonifacio Global City complex in Taguig City—the two yoga studios where Bianca used to practice.
“I was approached and was asked if I was interested in owning a studio,” Bianca reveals. “So they offered, actually, for me to be a part of the Rockwell branch. And I thought this will be a good location because we’re such a small community here, like it’s so easy to walk here, and there was no yoga studio of this size yet, at that time.”
The Rockwell branch of Beyond opened its doors to the yoga community in October of 2014.
“My role is to spread the love of yoga. I am the poster child of this studio. I’m
The branch of Beyond that Bianca is connected with is on the third floor of #38 Rockwell Drive, Rockwell Center, Makati City.
Beyond’s reception area features a statue of Buddha (above). The studio sells products such as these multi-purpose scarves (left photo). It is also equipped with fully functional locker rooms for male and female practitioners, with toilet and shower (left bottom photo).
Yoga, Bianca says, is for everyone: “No matter what your preferred workout is or dietary choice, or spiritual practice, I think yoga is the one constant thing that is the perfect thing to cross-train with. Whether you’re into running or you’re into surfing, or you’re into diving, or you’re even a serious athlete, like you’re a basketball player or a soccer player, or you are a mother, you’re a millennial, you are a senior citizen, you’re a child, it’s something that everyone can do.”
Bianca herself is into surfing, wakeboarding, and scuba diving, among other things. In fact, during the YES! interview, she’s still mending a broken wrist that she got from snowboarding.
the studio muse, if you will. Haha! No, I’m more on the marketing side.”
As happy as she and her team are that they can share their lifestyle with other people, Bianca admits that there are times when challenges test their patience.
“Business is very hard. There are good months, and there are bad months. And I learned a lot also about starting up a business. It’s being very clear with your numbers from the very start and conservatively projecting how much you could make.
“It’s always a glamorous idea to say, ‘Oh, I own a restaurant. Oh, I own a yoga studio. I own this, I own that.’ But the truth of the matter is that, with a lot of celebrities who invest in other people’s ideas, more often than not, it’s very easy to lose your money. I’m very grateful that that hasn’t happened yet here, but investing in this really made me realize that there’s a lot more to it.
“It’s not just ‘You have the cash and it sounds like a good idea, put it there.’ There’s so much due diligence that needs to be done. But again, it comes hand in hand with my being mindful. Like, at the start, I just took a leap of faith and there were learnings that happened in the process. But, you know, that’s all part of my journey, so I have no regrets.”
The rise of the fitness industry in the Philippines, although a great revolution for the health sector, has given the Beyond Rockwell team a chance to re-evaluate its strategies and make the place better.
“It’s only now that we’re really feeling the resurgence,” Bianca admits. “Because the studio was, I think, a bit affected by the surge in new types of workout, I think. Let’s just say that— how could we properly word that?— that the interest in fitness was booming, so a lot of entrepreneurs were bringing in new ideas, so customers were trying all these other things. It’s really only now, after three years of being open, that we’re feeling the people come back.”
The key, the Beyond Rockwell team said, was to learn their strengths and weaknesses.
“I think the most important thing to note,” Bianca points out, “is that as investors—not just myself, as investor and a business owner along with my partners—we quickly realized that we are not the type to be in the studio all the time. So it was when we hired our manager, Ben Bernabe, that things started to really improve, because he was always on top of the marketing, always on top of the sales.
“Ben is actually our angel. But he’s been teaching yoga with the Beyond group for years na. And we all liked him and we offered him the job. And we’re very grateful that he took it.”
When she is not practicing yoga, which she does at least five times a week, Bianca explores ways to further expand the business and share the practice of yoga with more people. These past few months, she has been fiddling with the thought of bringing the studio outside of Metro Manila.
Bianca says her favorite yoga pose is the headstand.
“Headstand was easy for me, I learned it in two weeks. But I’ve been trying to do arm balances for the past—I don’t know, my God— six years, and I can’t do them, so I don’t know. And I also like forward-folding, any type of forward-fold, because lengthening your spine is very important in yoga.
“I always talk about the easiest way to unlock a lot of yoga poses. It’s to inhale, stretch up, before you bend forward. And when you bend forward, you suck in everything, and then next thing you know, chest will hit your chins.”
Here’s Bianca doing some yoga poses:
“Eventually, I would like to work in partnership with the studio to do yoga retreats out of town. Filipinos need to get out of Manila more often. The city is too congested and it’s chaotic, and it leads us to believe that certain things are valuable in life when actually they’re really not.
“So instead of spending your weekend in the city, being stuck in traffic, going mall to mall, drinking, you know, I wanna encourage people to allow themselves a regular breather, not just the occasional vacation. You know, there are so many beautiful places outside of Manila that you can drive to on a weekend.
“So I think it would be not just a unique feature of the studio, but again I think it would be my way of, like, extending how to give back even more by creating these events and creating a community for the Beyond Rockwell people outside of the city as well. I mean, that would be, I think, like a dream of how to expand the business on my side, like my contribution to the business.”
There is a slow yet pertinent lifestyle change that Bianca has been trying to preserve in the past few months.
The teleserye Pusong Ligaw, which she headlined with Beauty Gonzalez, ended its nine-month run last January 2018. Taking its place, career-wise, is a travel and lifestyle show Life’s a Beach, which will be shown on the Colours TV channel.
In the first episode of Life’s a Beach, Bianca goes back to the municipality of Nasugbu, in the province of Batangas. Unknown to most people, Nasugbu was her childhood playground, a place she visited with her family every weekend.
“My parents just love the beach,” she recalls. “And I grew up on a boat every weekend, and I grew up in a very, very beautiful part of Nasugbu, where there are a lot of expat homeowners. So that was my lifestyle as a child, and I revisited the exact house where I grew up. And I was just in awe of the place, and I realize, like, I need to throw retreats here so people will come back to this side of Batangas, which is only two and a half hours away from the city. It’s so close.”
Her current stint in Life’s a Beach has made Bianca realize that it may be time to find her place in worlds outside of acting. “If I were to continue to do TV work, this is the type of work that I would really like to do,” she admits. “Like, not to play a character on TV anymore. I’d just play myself and be that communicator for the audience and open their eyes to the beauty in the world that they need to see through the food, and travel, and being outdoors and nature.”
It is also through this self- discovery that she has learned to embrace her dream of sharing the importance of taking care of the environment: “One of my central focuses in the show is talking about sustainability. So it’s not just food and travel and the fun stuff, but it actually tackles the questions: How do you keep these beaches clean? Where does your garbage go? How is it affecting the communities that live in the beaches where you’re vacationing?”
Her yoga practice has also shifted Bianca’s perspective on her eating habits. Since late last year, she has stopped eating pork and beef. “Industrial animal farming in general is the big cause of pollution and climate change,” she says. “Through practicing yoga and the mindfulness meditation, you become more self-aware, not just with yourself, but also the environment, the things you consume, and the garbage that you create, improving your relationship with everything else.”
Now the new TV host, who just celebrated her 32nd birthday last March 18, is on her way to discovering a part of her true self that may have always been there, but which was in hiding while she was fulfilling her role as an actress.
“I’ve always struggled with leaving the entertainment industry,” she tells YES! “Because every time there was an opportunity, I would always prioritize that. But after 14 years of being in the business, I’ve come to realize that I need to put my energy into other things, ’cause I have only so much to give. And you know, working on TV and in films can really drain the life out of you, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
“And though I’m very grateful for the career that I’ve had, for me to be able to pursue the other things that I love, like yoga, and wellness, and sustainability, protecting the environment, I’m gonna have to, like, take a step back first. Because if I don’t do it now, when else am I gonna do it, right? I don’t have a husband, I don’t have a child yet, so now is the time for me to really channel my energy into other things that will give back to people in a new way, and not just by entertaining them on TV.”
Beyond’s spacious studio is equipped with yoga hammocks, mats, and props. The hammocks are used for the AntiGravity Fitness classes.