Dee Cheung of SUP YOGA HK & Float On Hong Kong
‘A DATE WITH AINS’
I’m really excited to kick off season 2 of ‘A Date With Ains’ and I’m even more excited to share the incredible insights, wisdom and transparency that my upcoming interview guests have been so generous to part with.
If you’re a long time reader you’ll know that late last year I became a mum to my baby girl Xanthe. I’ll admit that I had really unrealistic expectations of how I was just going to slot a little bub into my life and business…we were even sharing a co-working space there for a bit (her cot and my desk where back to back….and ultimately that workspace didn’t pan out!).
As a result of this big life change and new chapter of my life, I’ve decided to give my interview series a new flavour and focus on Business and Babies.
You could say that I’ve started this conversation for myself with the aim of learning how to grow a business without burning out physically and emotionally. But it turns out other women, including my awesome interview guests, are wanting to discuss and discover different ways to approach motherhood that’s fulfilling, inspiring and with little to no guilt in sight.
With this in mind I knew exactly who I wanted my first interview guest to be…the powerhouse with purpose, Dee Cheung!
Dee is a fabulous role model when it comes to following your passions (and she has quite a few), creating a successful business with her husband and making self-care a priority all whilst being a beautiful individual and mother on the inside and out!
I hope you enjoy Dee’s interview,
HERE ARE A FEW RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS FOR YOU DEE!
WHERE ARE YOU FROM/WHERE DID YOU GROW UP:
I was born and raised in Toronto Canada. I grew up in the suburbs of Scarborough and spent a lot of time downtown. My parents owned a deli in the Eaton Centre for 9 years and yep, I worked for the family from age…10.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN HK:
Just over 10 years!
HOW MANY KIDS DO YOU HAVE + AGES:
A baby girl named Mya who has just turned one!
NAME OF BUSINESS:(ES)
Float On Hong Kong & SUP Yoga Hong Kong
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN BUSINESS FOR:
18 months and 5 years respectively.
OK, LET’S GET INTO THE BIG QUESTIONS DEE! TELL US ABOUT YOUR PATH INTO ENTREPRENEURSHIP….
My mother is my inspiration. She has always been an entrepreneur, first running a salon out of our first home and then she opened a busy pizza delivery and restaurant down town in Toronto where I grew up.
After she sold the pizza business she opened a deli in the Eaton Centre (the busiest and at the time the largest mall in the country) and for 9 years she catered to everyone from tourists, to the business men and women and even catered beautiful trays of fruit salads and sandwiches to the office towers. I spent my holidays working with her and following her from 6 am to the bread factory and then downtown.
She taught me to work hard and at the end of the day any left overs went to people who were homeless, so that nothing was ever wasted.
I moved to Hong Kong in 2006 after living in Vancouver for about a year and in search of something more. My dad had also lived in Hong Kong for much of my schooling life so I wanted to get to know him better too. In my second year living here, I met my now husband and life kept me here.
I started working in different jobs when I landed, first as a legal editor at a law firm and then found my way to teaching as an English Drama/Dance teacher in the schools and tutoring on the side. Yoga had always been my alone time while living the crazy city life and I volunteered a lot by running charity events. Then I was encouraged by a teacher to take my first yoga teacher training and that’s when I really fell in love with the practice and how much there was to learn beyond the mat. My first training was with Patrick Creelman in what was then, Anusara Yoga, then I trained with Jenny Smith from Gecko Yoga to complete my children’s yoga training and also my baby yoga diplomas with Sally Lomas from Birthlight Baby Yoga in the UK.
My journey as a yoga teacher lead me to work for lululemon in 2012 as their asia brand and community connector. It was a great opportunity working for them and I was able to be entrepreneurial in my role but when I finished up there, I started SUP YOGA HK with my partner Nadine. After our first season ended, I took another teacher training with Ana Forrest which resonated with me so deeply and I found myself really loving helping people get out of pain in their bodies. Yoga was merely the method in which I could do that.
After traveling for four months in South America, my husband and I started to make some big shifts in our lifestyles as he was working nights still and I was figuring out how to start teaching more regularly. Float therapy came up a few times and when we finally decided Hong Kong was ready and we’d raised the funds to open, another avenue was found to help people out of pain and this time I was doing it with my husband!
It’s not easy but we have set boundaries that allow us to live our work life and home life. We are constantly learning about ourselves and each other and how to have conversations rather than arguments and when things go pearshape, we take a bit of space from each other and come back to each other to find a solution together. We’ve learned to hold space for each other’s emotions and opinions.
HOW HAS BEING A MOTHER BENEFITED YOUR BUSINESS?
Well since I teach mommy baby yoga, it definitely helped being in baby groups and connected to more women who wanted to learn from me. It also taught me a lot about what new moms needed support with so I could empathise even deeper.
I fell pregnant three weeks after Float On opened and I floated throughout my pregnancy which helped show people that you could float while pregnant! As the first float therapy centre to open in Hong Kong, we had and still have a job to educate people on floating and being pregnant and floating live on facebook was a great way to educate!
DESPITE WEARING A MULTITUDE OF HATS, HOW DO YOU STAY CONNECTED TO YOU – YOUR OWN PURPOSE AND PASSION?
How do I stay connected to me… honestly, for a while I struggled with who I was after I had Mya.
There would be days that all I wanted to be was mommy and then there were others where I just wanted to be a bad ass entpreneur!
“I” has definitely been redefined but I am feeling more myself again because I am teaching again, working more deeply with the businesses, practicing by myself and those are the things that help me feel like “me.”
I see the same thread running through everything I am doing and that’s helping people out of pain and disconnecting them from their screens, it’s necessary espeically with how much time we are spending on the screens for work, for leisure.
DO YOU BELIEVE IN BALANCE? (THE NOTION THAT WE CAN HAVE IT ALL AND BALANCE BUSINESS, FAMILY AND OUR OWN LIFE DESIRES?)
I do! But it takes work, it’s intentional, it’s designed and it takes commitment to “pursue what sets your soul on fire” as rumi has written.
It’s not always balanced and I’m not even sure what the measure for a “balanced” life is but I think that if at the end of your day, you can go to bed feeling blessed and wake up feeling grateful to breathe, life is probably pretty good, which in my opinion is an even better goal than balanced.
DO YOU EVER HAVE DAYS WHERE YOU FEEL THAT IT’S JUST ALL TOO HARD? I’D LOVE TO HEAR HOW YOU WORK THROUGH THEM!
I CRY…. a lot… especially when Mya was first born and I would be trying to do the laundry with her strapped to me and make a meal and feel totally isolated.
I would just cry until it was all out (yes while she was strapped to me) and then take three deeeeeep breaths and pick it all up and keep going. Sometimes that’s all I need. A good cry. I had also enrolled myself into a small group coaching group before I gave birth so that I knew every week I had “Me/Work” time so I would stay connected to my goals beyond being a new mom. My website came out of my year with that coaching group and I am so grateful for the support I got there.
My other go- to for hard days include going for a sweat, usually a run or I call up my best friend in Canada. The time difference works for us!
One of the best parts of living in Hong Kong is that having help is affordable and since having a “YaYa” join our family, it’s given me a lot of my own time back to work, to focus and to balance my work-life-time. I am SO grateful for her. She’s only been with us a month but she is my co-pilot with home life and Mya loves her which is so important!
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
We wake up in the morning around 6:30 or 7am and Mya has a bottle in bed with us. We have cuddles and a play together before we get out of bed and make breakfast together. Around 9 I shower and change and out the door. I am either heading to work at Float On or teaching a client. Most mornings are like that and then every other day is different. I attend one of Mya’s playgroup meet ups each week and dinnertime as a family is non negotiable.
My parents were Asian immigrants to the UK and then Canda, they worked a lot and while everyone may have worked crazy hours, we always gathered together at the dinner table. This is something I want to instill in our family too.
ANY TIPS FOR OVERCOMING OR WORKING WITH ‘MUM GUILT?’
Don’t give the guilt any power.
The time you are away from your child is to provide for them and it’s also time for yourself, so that you can be a better mom to them.
FINISH THIS SENTENCE: EVERYTHING CHANGED FOR ME WHEN….
my baby was actually born!
MY ADVICE FOR WOMEN WHO ARE JUGGLING MOTHERHOOD AND BUSINESS WOULD BE….
Make time for yourself. Consciously set those times into your schedule like a really important doctor’s appointment and schedule everything else around that!
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU AND YOUR BUSINESS WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON?
Float On: we’ve just launched our new membership to our community. We’ve had over 2,000 people come through the door to float and we took a lot of feedback from our first year in business and also results that people are having from floating regularly. So our new membership is SUPER affordable, $630 a month for TWO floats!
One of our previous clients and a Masters student is doing her thesis on Float therapy + . We are really excited to be a part of supporting her research to give back to the float community as it’s our jobs to help put in the research.
SUP Yoga – while the seasons has kicked off, we are working on bringing trainings to China and surrounding region to make sure there are safe SUP classes running.
Diana (Dee) Cheung moved to Hong Kong in 2006 from Toronto, Canada and is the co founder of SUP YOGA HK, an accredited training centre by the global Academy of Surf Instructors. She also co founded Float On Hong Kong, the first float therapy centre to open in Hong Kong. She is passionate about bringing connection and calm to the vibrant city through yoga, paddle boarding and float therapy.
Studying under Ana Forrest, Dee has learned to help people move out of pain through the forrest yoga method. She also holds dimplomas with the Birthlight Baby Yoga and Radiant Child Yoga Schools. Dee is also a SUP YOGA teacher and loves to take her students out of the city and connect with mother nature, for fun and safe stand up paddleboard yoga classes.
Her mission is to help people out of pain, apply simple techniques to improve their overall well being and give tools to new moms, teens and adults working behind a desk.
I personally love following Dee on instagram and watching her insta stories – she packs a lot of great activities into her day!