FROM NYC TO BANGKOK: WORKING AT GUAVAPASS, FITNESS AND HEALTHY LIVING COMMUNITY AROUND ASIA





Emma and I grew up in Chappaqua, NY. Two years ago, she moved to Bangkok, Thailand and helped start GuavaPass, a community of fitness studios and healthy living experts in cities around Asia. I was able to catch Emma as she began her day, to chat about life as an expat in Thailand, and being part of the found team of GuavaPass.


Emma, great to talk to you! It's about 9am in Bangkok, what's a typical day for you like in Thailand?


A typical day starts with some exercise, yoga or HIT (high intensity training). I'm in the office by 9:15. I have a team of 9 here, but because I'm on the global team, I spend 65% of my time on calls with the team in Dubai or Singapore, running around like a chicken with my head cut off.


By the time I leave the office, I'll meet up with friends or come home and cook! Last night I made poke bowls, which are apparently really cool in NY right now.


If I can, I'll read, but I've been on the same book for the last 2 months... still haven't finished.


It sounds like life might not be that different than it was in NYC. Are there any dramatic differences to your life in Bangkok?


There's a misconception that we are on islands riding elephants and drinking cocktails every day. But my boyfriend and I are both living very New York lifestyles. There is definitely an aspect to Thailand that is much calmer than New York. In NY, you go to work, you work hard, you work late, you compete, it's really a grind. At the end of the day, there are great things to do in NY, but what is completely missing is the travel and leisure elements that we have here.


I work hard 5 days a week, and on the weekends, it is so easy to escape. An hour flight to Cambodia or Vietnam, 4 hours to Bali or the Maldives. That accessibility and flexible travel keeps me going during the week to have such rewarding two days to look forward to.


The other thing here is that the cost of living is so different than NY. New York is obviously one of the hardest places to live in terms of expenses. We have a big two bedroom apartment, and I get to drink fresh coconuts for 75 cents and get $10 massages after work.





Weekend getaway to Phuket? Finish that book finally? It's a cheap flight away from Bangkok...



Did you know about ClassPass before joining GuavaPass?


Yes, I did ClassPass religiously for 1.5 years. We moved out here because my boyfriend's job was out here. So when I moved to Bangkok, I was teaching yoga and trying to figure out a tech oriented job.


At the same time, my friend Rob was in Singapore trying to figure out his company. He and his partner decided to try the ClassPass model in Singapore and they brought me on a week after they started the business. Now it has been almost 2 years.


GuavaPass is already in 10 cities: Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, Shanghai, Taipei, Manila, Seoul, Jakarta, and Beijing and are continuing to expand... that's awesome. What has that been like for you?


It's been really crazy, we've been moving so quickly. If I didn't feel personally connected to the product, I would have burnt out awhile ago. I'm passionate about fitness and yoga, being a yoga teacher, it makes it easier.


Most days I'm working on the product, which is behind a computer and phone, but hearing the stories about how people use, enjoy and share our product really helps to keep us motivated and feel proud.


How do you decide what city is a good fit to launch in?


Good question. We think about the competition, so if it's a market that's already saturated, we know that there will be a barrier entry.


We think about the opportunity - it's not a cheap or mass product, so we need to think about our target demographic. There are many developing areas within SE Asia, so we need to make sure that the market is ready for us.


Here in Bangkok, we spent a lot of time educating the population about why wellness and fitness are important.


Who is your target market?


Expats are solid product users. In general, Thai people living in Bangkok haven't been so interested in health and wellness until recently - now it's becoming trendy so we are focusing our strategy to educate Thai people in Bangkok.


How is it modeled, same like ClassPass?


We have two main options - both unlimited. Then GuavaLite is 4 classes, like an intro.





Emma is VP of Global Brand Strategy and General Manager Bangkok at GuavaPass.



Based on the cities that GuavaPass works in and may expand to, do any other cities in Asia entice you? Do you think about moving back to the States or not right now?


This is a hot topic right now. I'm committed to spending more time in Singapore, I go every few months and will continue to do so.


At this point, I don't see myself moving back home in the near future. I don't want to be away forever because I miss my family and friends a lot, but right now my lifestyle out here is more ideal than it ever was in NY.


Any advice to those thinking about making a big life change to move abroad?


Do it. That's my advice.


I hear people say all the time when they come to visit us in Bangkok how cool life is here, that they wish they could do something like this. The answer is you can do it! NY or wherever you live is not going anywhere, you can always move back. If you're driven and hardworking enough, you can always find a job.