Monette Bata-Garcia’s fitness journey sounds familiar enough. Encouraged by her mom, she was always active even as a child. She was part of a swimming club at age 10 and was also enrolled in a gym.
When she had kids, however, fitness took a backseat. “I felt as if 24 hours was not enough and I just couldn’t find the time or the energy to maintain a fitness regimen” while also running a business, she says.
In 2014, Bata-Garcia, now 43, started working out with a trainer once more. “But I think what really turned my life around was when a friend introduced me to Electric Studio in 2016. There I found a support group that encouraged me to prioritize self-care. From spinning, I started to mix more workout classes like Pilates and Redcord at B+B studio Manila.”
During the lockdown, Bata-Garcia, who owns Gypsy Rosé wines, and designs and co-owns the fashion brand Unarosa with her brother, also picked up on another passion: hairstyling.
“Many do not know that I am a professional hairdresser. I trained with Toni & Guy in Singapore and London and was affiliated with Toni & Guy Manila and Frank Provost prior to getting married.”
Under quarantine, she was “forced” to cut and style the hair of friends and neighbors who were part of her “bubble.” She has since set up a makeshift salon at home and began accepting select friends and their families as clients.
“All throughout, I have maintained all the safety protocols to ensure that we are all safe.”
What’s your fitness routine/regimen?
I am up before sunrise and go for a run or a brisk walk. My goal is to hit 10,000 steps.
I regularly join a variety of Zoom classes hosted by Electric Studio, The Movement Studio, such as spinning, strength or HIIT (high-intensity interval training) classes, flow or boxing.
What are your favorite workouts and forms of exercise?
I enjoy being outdoors where I can get some sun and take in fresh air. My walks and/or runs are my favorite workouts. We go for a trail run every other week just to enjoy nature and to keep our workout interesting. We go hiking if we can, too. We have our own small bubble and we plan outdoor activities any chance we get.
Even when I travel, I make sure to pack running clothes to enjoy the outdoors. I prefer doing outdoor activities like running on the beach and paddle boarding. I like to mix things up so as not to get bored.
How often do you workout?
Before the pandemic, I used to work out three to five times a week. Now it’s six to seven times a week.
I walk every day to reach my 10,000 steps, and two days in a week, I do active recovery, where I only walk or swim or do yoga, nothing strenuous.
I just make sure I get to do strength workouts five days a week, which includes my strength, boxing, plyo and HIIT classes.
Where do you workout?
I do everything on Zoom so I created a home workout area inside my room. I had to buy free weights, bands, sliders, kettle bells, weighted balls. I took out my old gym equipment from storage to set up my own gym.
What are your fitness essentials?
My Fitbit. It measures my steps and sleep. It gives me the data I need to take action.
Free weights also since you can do your own workout anytime. A nice yoga mat and rubber matting to protect your knees from strenuous workouts. Bands are useful also.
What’s on your workout playlist?
Current and very upbeat songs. Depending on my mood, I usually listen to clubbing music, hiphop and the classic ’90s and ‘00s R&B.
Do you stick to a strict diet? What do you usually eat in a day?
I watch what I eat. I enrolled in Ph360 end of 2020 and I try to stick with the food recommended for my body type.
Ph360 is a clinically proven personal health program designed for each individual based on their genes and their environment. It formulates what an individual exactly needs from biorhythms, metabolism, food, exercise, sleep, lifestyle and environment.
I am on a low-carb diet. My typical postwalking meal would be two boiled eggs and my daily fruit juice: one apple, one half carrots and one thumb-size ginger. On some days, I substitute eggs with chia pudding for breakfast.
For lunch and dinner, I eat grilled veggies and any protein. I eat a lot of veggies. I snack a lot within the day especially if I do multiple workouts—pistachios, any kind of berry and pomelo. I am allowed dark chocolate and cacao nibs four times a week. When I crave for something sweet, I eat these for my dessert.
Once a week, I do bone broth all day to cleanse my body. This includes alcohol and my cheat meals.
High sugar or refined carbohydrates like white bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, pastries, sweet desserts and chips. Drinking alcohol is highly discouraged.
I indulge once in a while just so I don’t crave and overindulge myself. I believe in balance and setting a more realistic diet that I can apply in my lifestyle.
Do you have cheat days?
Yes. Once a week, I order fast-food and enjoy these with my three kids. This is our bonding time since we do not have the same diet in the house … My eldest son loves to cook so I usually take a bite of whatever he is cooking.
I don’t have a sweet tooth but I eat dessert once in a while. I’m happy with my dark chocolate and cacao nibs.
What keeps you motivated?
These are uncertain times. While we can’t take the stress away, we can change our reaction to it. Being fit and eating right won’t prevent you from catching the virus but I believe that this would have protective effects in case you catch it.
I have kids and this is what motivates me to stay active, eat healthy, up my immune system and be mindful with my mental health. Exercise releases endorphins which they call a “happy pill,” and I crave this feeling. I love the feelings of relaxation and optimism that accompany many hard workouts.
How did this pandemic affect your fitness routine?
I actually work out more now. I’ve learned to work out online. I am more consistent. Exercise keeps me sane.
I really miss my friends, though. I look forward to working out together soon.
What are your other fitness secrets?
Walking is the most underrated workout. Walk every day even for 30 minutes. I use this time to reflect and clear my mind. I try to be mindful, to smell the air, the feel of the sun on my skin, and the wind as I walk. Walking has a lot of benefits aside from mental health. It is a full body workout. You get to exercise your lungs and heart. It improves your overall health.
What tips do you want to share with people who want to get healthier?
Set a realistic goal and try to stick with it. Start substituting with one healthy meal a day, then progress to one full day until you reach one cheat day a week. I believe in baby steps. Never ever deprive yourself. Progress weekly.
Make sure to eat more fruits, vegetables and protein. Steer away from sweets and desserts. Listen to your body’s satisfaction signals when it comes to meals so you stop eating when you are full. Tune in to your body. You know which food is good for you. Always hydrate yourself. Water is very important.
Try to squeeze in 30 minutes of any exercise once a day. Alternate cardio and strength workouts.