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Lemon Drop: creating a community in Kennedy Town

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The new yoga studio shares theDesk’s ‘neighbourhood ethos’

Community centres, religious buildings and bars are traditional places that bring a community together. Well, that was once true but these days anywhere can develop a community-minded ethos and work to bring in people from the surrounding neighbourhood to meet each other and share ideas. It’s what we’re doing here at theDesk co-working space for the Sai Wan, Sai Ying Pun and Kennedy Town communities. However, what about a yoga studio that’s reaching out to its surrounding residents and businesses? The new Lemon Drop Studio in Kennedy Town is embarking on a mission to share its ‘neighbourhood ethos’.

SEE ALSO: 10 ways to get fit in Kennedy Town during your lunchbreak

Lemon Drop opened on January 3 and it basically runs yoga, pilates and fitness classes for Kennedy Town residents but it plans to do so much more as part of the process of connecting with its community, according to co-founder Phoebe Chan. The 29-year-old, who is a key leader at athletic apparel retailer Lululemon and also works for training specialist retailer Whatever It Takes Hong Kong, says the new studio is built around the idea of improving both yourself and the community spirit. The freelance yoga teacher, whose focus as part of the Lemon Drop team is on arranging the class schedules and workshops, talks to us about creating a different kind of place for the K-Town neighbourhood…

Tell us all about the history of Lemon Drop Studio, Phoebe…
I met my partners, Edmond and Vicky, when I first joined Lululemon, where there’s a huge emphasis on vision and goals. We found we all shared the same vision of creating a space for the community to come together. So we did it! Part of the studio’s name comes from the fact we’re all from Lululemon but our ethos is all about community and trying to create a successful space. We like the phrase ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade’, which means be optimistic and have a can-do attitude in the face of adversity. That’s why our motto is #squeezeajuicylife. No matter if your goal is getting a good body or achieving a big dream, you must work hard and break a sweat for it.

What’s your background?
I was once an assistant group revenue manager in a hotel group before I switched my job to Lululemon. I finished my yoga teacher training while I was working in the hotel. But during that time I started to develop an interest in health and fitness along my yoga journey and decided I would like to work on something related to what I’m passionate about. I was inspired by a speech that movie star Denzel Washington once made when he encouraged university graduates to ‘fall forward’. That speech lit a fire in me. So I decided to completely change my career. Now I’ve been with Lululemon for two years and have met many inspiring people. And now I have a yoga studio too!

How hard was it to get the studio off the ground?
It was a crazy journey but luckily I have a good team. My partners and I used to work together, so we’re an effective team when it comes to the division of work. Also, thanks to the connection and support from my Lululemon team, we were able to spread the word quickly in the community. Most of our time was spent looking for the right location but we fell in love with the high ceiling and big windows at the location in Cadogan Street. We also brainstormed some key points when we came to the vision of the studio. And we put a lot of effort into planning the use of the space while keeping it all as minimal as we could.

So what does Lemon Drop offer to the K-Town community?
We’re creating a small-and-comfy environment for the K-Town community to relax and unwind in. I love K-Town. It’s like the new Soho and it’s growing so fast. Apart from offering a place for the community to sweat during yoga and fitness sessions, though, we want to share this space with other dream creators out there. We’re open to any ideas. Maybe mini art shows or Sunday markets?

SEE ALSO: Things to do in Sai Ying Pun and Kennedy Town this week

How are you planning to actually connect further with the community?
We’re planning to do more community-based events. We have ideas like movie nights, charity yoga events and charity running clubs. We want to bring people together and we believe charity work would be a great start! People can come together to do what they enjoy while giving back to those people in need. What I always believe is that we just need to find something we all enjoy doing and do it regularly so that, eventually, a change will happen.

So, the yoga. Why has this become so successful as both art and fitness medium?
Yoga, to me, is a practice of life. Obviously, your body benefits from the asana practices but most importantly it trains your mind. I practice yin yoga a lot, where the focus is on seated or lying positions held for long periods of time. I truly believe the saying ‘life is a balance between holding on and letting go’. It’s easier said than done. Finding the delicate balance of life is an art in itself. We often become unaware of what we really want because of our hectic city life. Yoga can create a great platform and moment for a person to look within so that we can gain an understanding of what our body and mind needs. Most of the mental and physical stress that people experience is down to an imbalance in their life. A massage ball will never able to roll out all the emotional burdens we carry on our shoulders. We need to look within to find out the root causes of it all. Not all the physical yoga positions are easy to do but we can all learn to find comfort in the uncomfortableness. I hope that people can take the practice of yoga and apply it off the mat as well as on.

What challenges have you experienced so far at Lemon Drop?
We’re still trying to improve our presence in the Kennedy Town neighbourhood. We’re still trying to establish a connection with the businesses around us. It’s hard to kickstart all our ideas at the same time as getting the studio running smoothly. Again, we’re striking a balance. But, so far, the people we have come across in K-Town are super friendly and have given us a warm welcome.

What other businesses would you like to see that focus on the K-Town community?
I’d love to see more art-based businesses! K-Town is such a cool area to chill and unwind in, so imagine a place with artworks up on the walls where we could enjoy a cup of coffee at the weekend while a local jazz band plays their own music.

SEE ALSO: The fashion designer who helps homeless people and drug addicts in Sai Ying Pun

Any upcoming events at Lemon drop the K-Town community can get involved in?
On April 8 we’re working with sportswear fashion retailer She Collective HK to run a Saturday event. We will have a 90-minute high intensity interval training and stretch combo class followed by a pop-up store of clothing and accessories from She Collective. The class is between 12.30pm and 2pm and the pop-up store runs until 5pm. Then we have our first guest teacher workshop weekend on May 20 and 21. Erica Tenggara from Singapore is going to run four modules for us. We’re still finalising the details for that. We’re also excited to hold our first 200-hour teacher training with with Dr Abhishek Agrawal, founder of the Yogkinesis school of movement. It’s a 10-day intensive training programme which focuses on alignment and developing suppleness, stability and strength, with an emphasis on injury rehabilitation. The programme takes place on May 15 to 19 and May 22 to 26. It starts from 8.30am and ends at 5.30pm each day.

What does the future hold for Lemon Drop as a community hub?
Hopefully, Lemon Drop will be a place where the Kennedy Town community hangs out. We hope it will become a space where people share their positivity with each other and enjoy a #juicylife.

Lemon Drop Studio is at Shop 2, 37B Cadogan St. Call the team on 6769 3436 or check out facebook.com/lemondropstudiohk. Anyone who has ideas on community events that could be run at the studio, email lemondropstudiohk@gmail.com.

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