The fitness industry in the Philippines has endured some of the harshest consequences of the pandemic, with most clubs closed and Instructors locked down since March 2020. Les Mills Asia Pacific caught up with Kristine Belarmino-Batungbacal, to find out how she coped and stayed strong with the relentless challenges that the pandemic created in her country.
Kristine Belarmino-Batungbacal (more commonly called ‘Tin’), is trained in BODYJAM®, BODYBALANCE® and LES MILLS TONE®.
“I’ve been teaching since 2012 when I fell in love with Les Mills. It started with BODYJAM; then I auditioned for BODYBALANCE, and then I joined the LES MILLS TONE team (back then it was called ‘BODYVIVE’).”
“March was pretty hard for me, as we needed to go into quarantine, which meant my five-day-a week gym visits became zero and my social life was limited to computer monitors and phone screens.”
“I’m a practicing physician, and also the Director for Clinical Services for Home Healthlink Innovations Inc., which is the biggest Home Care company in the Philippines. So, my day job was put on hold as well as my Instructor job. Finances became slim, and the monotonous day-in, day-out didn’t help my psyche. It even affected my willingness to do simple exercises at home. That was, until reality hit; I realised that I can’t do anything about COVID-19, but I could definitely do something to make my situation better.”
“COVID-19 showed me what’s really important in life; more time at home means more time spent with my family, and more quiet time with God. This brought me hope again and God, somehow, turned this pandemic into a blessing.”
When it comes to staying positive, Tin says BODYBALANCE played a key role. “I was blessed to be exposed to the science of BODYBALANCE. The breathing techniques that I learned from form my mentors, made me more intentional in focusing on the good than the bad using the power of the breath. Surrounding myself with people who love me and who love God, made hardships a little bit lighter. And most of the time, surprisingly, I catch myself laughing more than the usual. More faith. More pressing on. More hope.”
Tin’s decision to return to teaching once clubs reopened in November 2021 was largely motivated by her willingness to share what she’d learned from her experience during the lockdown with others. “The hope and positivity that this pandemic has given me, made me want to share it more with people, and going back to teaching would give me a wider reach. The strength and knowledge that I gained from enduring the challenges this pandemic threw at me, are things that I can share with others so they too can survive the tough times like I have.
The first class back was BODYBALANCE and it was “honestly, nerve wracking”, Tin said. “I was unfit, in all sorts of ways; my gym clothes were all ill-fitted, and I thought I wouldn’t recall any choreography (even my go-to playlist)! But, everything changed when I stepped on stage; and yet, also nothing had really changed! The members were their usual happy and warm selves, and the class just flowed.
Tin says her motivation has always been her ‘Why. But those ‘Whys’ evolved a lot over time. “Pre-pandemic, my Why was that I wanted to influence everyone to be healthy and stay healthy. But now, my Why is to use teaching as a tool to encourage people to keep pressing on. To never stop. To never give up. Because, this pandemic taught me that every single second is a gift from God, and that there is a good reason behind everything that life throws at us.”
“As Instructors, we have the chance to reach out to people beyond our own families. And we should use this opportunity to influence people, our members, to see that rainbow beyond this pandemic. To see the light at the end of the tunnel. Because, as long as we are alive, there is hope. There will always be HOPE. It has been tough, but it’s not impossible to survive. Look at the good in every situation; this is what keeps me going. And this is the reason why I teach, week after week.”