Pure Group CEO Colin Grant on the benefits of yoga, being vegan, and fitness trends
Health is wealth
You founded Pure Yoga in 2002. Now with 28 outlets worldwide in Hong Kong, Taipei, Shanghai, and New York, how has the concept evolved from what you had envisioned from the start?
When we first started, it was funny because everyone said, "You're opening a yoga studio?" There were only two or three yoga studios in Hong Kong back then, and hardly anybody practised it. Our aim was to make yoga accessible, so we built a studio with multiple rooms, changing rooms, showers, lockers, towels, and mats. At the time in 2002, we were the largest yoga studio in the world. We ventured into Singapore in 2005, and Taiwan and Shanghai a few years ago. Now with Pure Fitness, we're more of a lifestyle brand — you can come here, use the lounge and relax, have a smoothie at nood food, and enjoy the community in this space.
What are the main benefits of yoga? Do you couple your yoga regime with any cardio?
Yoga is a physical and emotional experience to me — it's where you can reconnect with yourself. You focus on breathing, you go inwards, and at the end of an hour, you feel physically and mentally better. And truth be told, also a lot happier. If I'm having a bad week, my favourite class is a one-hour hot vinyasa flow. I play tennis as well (Side note: Colin used to be a semi-professional tennis player), but my main form of exercise is still yoga. It makes me feel lighter, fresher, and younger — something I never got from running on the treadmill for an hour or bench pressing my weight.
Where do you see the future of fitness trends headed?
Gym memberships are still on an upward trend as there's a huge opportunity there. In the USA, about 18 percent of the population have a gym membership. That's 18 percent of 55 to 60 million people. In Singapore and Hong Kong, it's only about 4 percent of the population. It'll take time but there's definitely been a global movement in the last five to 10 years towards a healthy lifestyle. You know, a hundred years ago, mortality was driven by malnutrition and infection diseases. Today, it's all about lifestyles. What we're eating today as compared to 50 years ago is scary as there's so much processed food. Personally, I went vegan about a year ago and it's had a huge impact on my life. Firstly, the vegan diet has a less negative impact on the environment; secondly, I love animals and I have two dogs; and thirdly, it's good for my health.
What's your daily food intake like?
I'll have a plant or fruit smoothie in the morning, then a salad or bagel for lunch. For dinner, I normally go for a light salad and I eat early at about 6.30pm. By doing that, I was able to actually sleep better. If you have a big steak or pasta at 9.30pm, your body has to digest that, so it's not sleeping or resting properly.
What's your advice for someone who's looking to embark on a healthier lifestyle?
There's two parts — one's exercise, and the other is diet. Whatever you do on the diet side is going to be gradual, and it has to be so there's no shock to the system. Here's an example: With seven days of the week, you're going to start eating no meat or fish on one of the days, and then maybe non-dairy on another day. Then after a week, you might increase the number of days, and go at a pace you're comfortable with. When it comes to exercise, do what feels good for your mind and body, whether that's two or three times a week. You've got to do things that aren't a chore and a sport you really enjoy, so it can be sustainable in the long run.
"You've got to do things that aren't a chore and a sport you really enjoy, so it can be sustainable in the long run."
When should people start living a healthier life?
From the start. It's not a lifestyle that you adopt only when you're sick or old. If you do it when you're young, you'll stay young and won't get sick. Even when I'm home and my kids and wife get sick, I generally don't — and that's in part because I've been exercising, practising yoga, and sticking to a good diet.
Looking to start leading a healthier life? Visit Pure Fitness to get started.