One of my favorite things is sitting down over a cup of coffee to hear people's stories, wisdoms and dreams. Kelsey and I got to do that last week with yoga instructor, blogger, business owner and great conversationalist, Bianca Bonus. After we got settled and talked about how awkward the heights of our chairs were (short and angled funny), we clicked record and documented one of the best get-to-know-you conversations I've had. Here's the play-by-play:
Tell me how you got into yoga in the first place.
Growing up I did ballet, and I loved it. I got really flexible through it and it involved a lot of discipline. Then I moved here from the Philippines in 2001, and when I moved I couldn't find a ballet studio that I really liked, so it just kind of fell off. So for a while, from then through college, I didn't do anything really active. I wasn't into fitness at all.
My undergrad was in accounting, and when I graduated, I started working for a company with really long, stressful hours. One of my coworkers there invited me to my first yoga class. It was a heated yoga class with weights - they call it "sculpt." I remember looking around and thinking people were insane - they were amazing. I was on my mat sitting down, because I was going to pass out [LAUGHTER] and I was just like... These people are cool. I'm going to come back, because I want to be that strong one day. I was really inspired by them, since I was so physically out of shape at the time.
So I used the "free week," the rest of that week and then I signed up for membership.
After two years of practicing, I ended up leaving my first accounting job, and my "quitting present" to myself was to sign up for teacher training. So I did that and got certified at Core Power, and I've been teaching for more than two years now.
Wow, so did you start blogging right away or did that come later?
No I didn't. It was a really organic process. I launched my blog this past October.
Oh that's so recently!
Yeah it's super new! The thing is, my fitness journey started with yoga, and then somewhere along the line I came across this fitness movement called BBG. So I started getting into that and I started doing weights too and more circuit training, intensity training... and that led to me hosting meet-ups in Orange County. I would post about the event on Instagram and then people would show up, and we would all do yoga and BBG together.
What gave you the idea to start doing meet ups?
I lived by the beach, so I would bring my weights, my yoga mat, my music... I would have this whole set up, and then I would just workout every day there. Sometimes some friends would drive in to join me just for the day, and I thought, I bet other people would want to do this.
I think fifteen people came to the first one, and it was mostly my friends and my co-workers, and then our biggest one ended up being a hundred people, and we had corporate sponsors. So it was all through Instagram, and through doing those meet-ups I met some fitness bloggers. And then I think just being around what they're doing made me so inspired: how they would collaborate with brands and use their blogs to inspire people to move .
I think I have a voice in terms of sharing my love for yoga, and not just that but also the spiritual side of yoga, and making people think and question things a little bit.
So do you post mostly about yoga or also about other healthy-lifestyle things?
Right now, I usually post on three things: yoga-related tutorials or how to's, entrepreneurial/intentional living type things, and then I did one food related post.
Do you find a big connection between yoga and other healthy-lifestyle choices? Are there any specific things that you find impact you the most?
Yeah, totally. Exercise and food. All those years, I wasn't doing anything physical at all, so I was very sluggish, I had no energy... I would eat so badly. Every junk food you could possibly find, that's what I would eat for lunch and dinner. It was so bad! I wasn't overweight, but I knew that internally I wasn't in shape.
But when I started doing yoga, I think my body just wanted to eat better. I cut out dairy and fried food. It's not perfect, but I told myself that's what I was going to do. And then my skin cleared up, and I wouldn't get sick as much.
Now I try to stay active 6 days a week, and I usually eat very clean. But today I had doughnuts because you can't say no to Sidecar! I don't really eat doughnuts but when they're Sidecar....?! Today was a bad example [LAUGHTER AND AGREEMENT ABOUT SIDECAR ALL AROUND].
But that's good, it seems like you've found a good balance of living healthily, but not becoming obsessed with every little thing.
Yeah, some of my friends count calories and track macros... That doesn't work for me - I feel too restricted, I guess.
Do you have any workout tips for someone who can't afford a gym or just wants to workout at home?
Bodyweight exercises. So burpees, jump lunges, jump squats, pushups... Even just those gets your heart rate going so fast and if you do them really fast, it burns a lot of fat.
Are there certain brands for food or clothes or equipment that you specifically recommend?
For yoga clothes, I know everyone uses Lululemon, but it's just so reliable size-wise. I use their yoga mats too. I also really like Alo Yoga.
For shoes, I like Asics for cross training and running. I did a half marathon and I ran with Asics, and they were really supportive.
Your mom does yoga with you sometimes right?
Yeah, so one time there was a yoga retreat in Bali that I wanted to go to....So, actually let me back track... I was in my office, scrolling through Instagram and Yogagirl posted a picture for a reatreat in Aruba with all this beauuuutiful water, and I was like dude, I should just go! why not! And then I went to Aruba, not even knowing where it was at first, and went to that retreat.
So then when I started talking about this other retreat in Bali, my mom wanted to come with me. So I said, "Okay, well you need to start doing yoga." And for her birthday I bought her a plane ticket, and we went to Bali together on the yoga retreat. So she got into it because of that retreat. She's in her 60s.
Do you do videos on your blog?
Yep! I haven't decided if I want to do more instructional videos yet, where I am actually talking and teaching, but that's something that could be in the works!
What is your vision for your yoga classes and for your blog?
The kind of yoga I want to do is very athletic, and I always picture it outdoors. Along with Girl Get Outside, which is a company I own with a friend, we want to do yoga retreats.
Wait, so you own a company?!
Yes! So it's called "Girl Get Outside" and the whole thing is to inspire women to pursue the outdoors. For one, I think the outdoors holds something very special because I feel like that's where God communicates with me. It's powerful. You just realize how small you are when you're out there.
How I got into it is kind of a long story... but the girl that taught my Business of Yoga lecture at Core Power is the one who founded Girl Get Outside with a friend. They hosted these Instagram challenges where for one week, you have to do one specific thing each day and post a photo. So I did it, and I won one of the challenges. After I won the challenge, she asked me if I wanted to be an ambassador for Girl Get Outside, and I said "I'd love to." Time went on and they both got married, etc. and decided they didn't have time to do it anymore, so they asked me to manage the social media. So for a while I was the one curating their feed and posting photos which was really fun for me. Eventually we met up and she said, "I was thinking about what kind of company you should start, and it's Girl Get Outside. Do you want to buy it from me?" and I was just like "WHAT? You're selling me this?!" I was just floored. I couldn't believe it at first, and she was selling it for a really good price. I sat on it for a while, but then the door opened up for a good friend to work with me on it, so we split it and now we tag team the work.
So what do you guys do through that?
It's a blog. But we are currently working on getting a shop up. So we'll be selling water bottles, stickers, tshirts and tanks, and eventually our main thing is going to be retreats and outdoor adventures.
Looking back, I never would have thought I would be teaching yoga or even blogging... it's like nothing I ever thought I would do.
Were there any times that were really challenging for you physically or emotionally?
The biggest thing that propelled this path that I'm on was a really really difficult breakup. Two years ago, I was in my lowest point. I am a generally happy person, so when I was in such a low place, I didn't know what to do. It was very foreign to me. I knew I needed something to get myself into a regular routine, so I found this book called the Slight Edge, and it talked about little disciplines every day that inspired me a lot. I think from just putting things into action and not staying stuck, all of these things started happening.
I went to Life Care Counseling too. I had to face a lot of things I didn't want to and push through the pain. I look back today and realize I learned so much from all of that. I mean, I would never be here if it weren't for that... I guess I'm better for it.
Do you have any tips for people who want to workout but can't stay motivated? And also any tips for other entrepreneurs?
So the first one - tips for trying to stay motivated: I think one thing is just taking it one day at a time, because sometimes we just have these giant goals. We're like I want to lose 25 pounds or I'm going to cut down to 18% body fat... But I feel like it has to be little by little because it's easy to get overwhelmed and then you feel like I don't want to do it anymore. I'm going to quit. So I think just being really kind to yourself, but also pushing yourself harder is important. And commitment too -- showing up every day, even when you don't want to. Because that's the only way you can change habits.
And your second question for people who want to start something: I never once felt like I was ready. Even with teaching yoga... I didn't like speaking in front of people before I taught yoga. When you're up there it's like oh my gosh these people are here, and they're just sitting there looking at me. But teacher training got that fear out of me. And with those meet-ups when there were a hundred something people... I just don't get nervous anymore. So I think it's just, starting.
With Girl Get Outside, I felt like I didn't have time and I didn't know what was going to happen, but I think if you put yourself out there, God sets you up for it basically.... I mean... it's hard to talk about all of these things without putting my faith into it because I can't really take credit.