She’s never had a serious illness her entire life. Since age 9, she’s kept an active lifestyle. Today, fashion entrepreneur Joanna Preysler Francisco, who turned 51 yesterday, maintains a waistline trimmer than before she had her three children.
There’s no big secret to that impressive feat. Francisco works hard to earn her uber-fit body. She’s so committed to fitness that she preps her workout gear for the next day before she goes to bed.
Francisco works out twice a day, always finding time to fit sessions into her busy schedule running the lockdown-born Sunday Morning bakery, the fashion and art boutique Othello, and Provenance Art Gallery, which she manages with husband Raul Francisco.
She used to run a lot. She completed her first full marathon when she turned 42—she has finished three, the last one in Paris—and has run in about two dozen half-marathons. But as she drew closer to 50, Francisco began to focus on building muscle mass and bone density.
“I have never been as defined and as cut in my life than today,” Francisco told Lifestyle.
Her mornings usually perk up with cardio exercise with her hubby and younger son. The trio plays competitive frisbee—yes, they keep track of the score. Francisco said playing frisbee is like hitting two birds with one stone: you get good cardio, have so much fun and have a great time with your family.
Later in the morning, she attends a Zoom class with her personal trainer and a workout partner. The evenings are reserved for Pilates or barre. Overall, she works out 14 to 16 times a week.
Staying active and fit have always been at the core of Francisco’s DNA. She grew up in a family where sport “was almost a religion.” Her dad had a black belt in judo and excelled in boxing. A show jumper, he was once named Asia’s best polo player. Her mom played competitive tennis at Manila Polo Club.
She grew up where punching bags, weights and workout equipment were always around. Family activities and conversations revolved around sports.
At 9, Francisco started playing tennis. Soon enough, she found herself waking up at the crack of dawn for horseback riding lessons at the Polo Club. In grade school, she was on the soccer and swim teams.
“We were triathletes without even knowing it!” Francisco said, laughing. “I was such a tomboy and very competitive. I did several different types of sports a day.”
She would choose to bike around the village or skateboard when all her friends wanted to drive cars. She was so active at a tender age that she grew up not being a TV person at all. And this active gene has been passed on to her children.
Everyone in the family works out in the home gym. There’s a water rower, a punching bag and two indoor cycling bikes. The home gym is also fitted with a weight room with kettlebells, medicine balls, dumbbells and barbells.
Her eldest, Monica, 27, is a spin instructor and marketing director at Saddle Row. Emilio, her second born, attends law school at the Ateneo, while her youngest, Diego, 11, is in sixth grade.
‘Choose your tribe’
Growing up, Francisco gravitated toward active people.
“Choose your tribe. Life is short. With the quarantine, the people you expose yourself to are now limited. Think of people who add sunshine and happiness to your life. At some point in your life, you’re done with BS,” Francisco said. “It’s always good to invest in good karma.”
As an active woman, she was naturally drawn to fit men.
“I have to be with a man who could beat me at a sport. I can’t be with a guy whose testosterone is lower than mine,” she said, laughing. “I have to feel like a woman. No matter how hard I try, I can never beat my husband in any sport.”
People often think Francisco’s workout is a self-indulgent activity. While looking good in clothes that fit well is the byproduct of exercise, she said working has helped maintain her sanity.
“My working out is my daily prayer. My desire is to see my children grow old healthy, and to meet their future children. God helps those who help themselves,” she said.
“I always tell myself I will have the body that I deserve. You can’t be negligent of your health and ask God to add more years to your life. You need to help yourself.” INQ