Curves Malaysia CEO Alison Chin On The Importance Of Having A Clear Purpose

What is it you do?

Before I became the CEO of Curves Malaysia, I was a certified chartered accountant who used to work with one of the “Big Four” international accounting firms, in Australia and the United States. When I returned to Malaysia, I joined a multinational fitness company in their regional finance team.

As I started going regularly to the gym, I fell in love with the fitness and wellness industry for its fun and positivity. But I never truly felt comfortable working out next to my male colleagues – especially during unglamorous moments that involved being sweaty or doing squats. The real turning point came when a personal trainer pressured my mother into doing weights until she got a slipped disc in her neck, nearly paralysing her.

My mother spent thousands in recuperation and was in extreme pain for months. Ever since, I’ve dedicated my career to providing a better workout solution for women. I decided to bring Curves to Malaysia when I saw how the women-only workout concept transformed my cousin in Australia from being a stressed-out mom to looking amazing, healthy and happy. I saw immediately that Curves was what women in Malaysia had been missing this whole time. Curves is a 30 minute workout for ladies only, with thousands of clubs in over 90 countries. We are here to raise the awareness for Health and Fitness, build the community and empower thousands of women to live their best life.

What is the most surprising thing about you that most people don’t know?

I grew up and spent my early working years in Australia. I’ve also done international secondments in Boston, USA and Poole, United Kingdom. I love to travel, and I especially love trying new foods when I do!

What’s a typical day like in your life?

My daughter’s school is near our house, so our day begins with my husband and I walking her to school. I then like to do a Morning Ritual, where I write in my Gratitude Journal. Then a coffee is a must! Once I get into the office, I review my To-Do list for the day and prioritize these tasks before getting stuck in. The day usually flies by with meetings with my team, collaborative partners, and planning ahead for our Marketing campaigns and Internal Training and Operations initiatives. I’ll end the work day with a Curves workout two to three times a week. In the evenings its music practice time with my daughter before a bit of playtime and storytelling. I like to end my night reading in bed.

What’s the hardest thing you have had to deal with in your life?

The year I became a Mother, I was also expanding my business (opening my third club), and doing weekend study as well. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had certainly had taken a lot on my plate and was out of my comfort zone, learning so many new things, especially about motherhood! Thankfully I have a very supportive family who could lend a hand, and wonderful girlfriends who could share their experiences and give an ear.

Through the course I was doing, I met so many other entrepreneurs at different stages of their business. Meeting a network of peers who could really share about their entrepreneurial achievements and challenges really helped me to stay focused and learn not to be so hard on myself. Learning to manage all of life’s changes is still an ongoing process, but I think when you go through those tough times, you really learn about yourself more and when you focus on the bigger picture, you realise you are here and you are who you are because of all the ups and the downs you went through. So just keep on going, keep on striving!

What motivates you to keep going when the going gets tough?

Having a very clear purpose. Building a business is one of the most challenging things I’ve done, and also one of the most rewarding. My purpose for bringing Curves to Malaysia is to create a strong and positive community that provides the very best member experience, enabling women to live their life to their fullest potential. Our mission is “Strengthening Women”.

Whenever I meet members and they tell me that Curves changed their life – helped them overcome health concerns like high blood pressure, diabetes, frozen shoulder, help them battle depression and I hear comments like they can even wear high heels without pain now – I feel amazing that we’ve been a part of their journey to living a great life!

To me, Strengthening Women also encompasses my staff. 99% of my Team are women, most of them below the age of 35. It is very rewarding to see them grow and develop as confident leaders, and I feel a lot of pride when our members compliment us on the quality of our team members and service.

How do you relax when you’re not working?

I like to come up with new activities for my daughter e.g. visiting the butterfly park or doing a short day trip nearby. It reminds me that life is so beautiful and we should grab opportunities to enjoy nature and spend time with loved ones, instead of spending most of our time indoors at the mall! I also love to read, and meeting up with friends over coffee is always fun.

What tools do you use that are indispensable? What can you not live without?

WhatsApp is an app I use every day. It is so easy to keep in touch with family and friends all over the world, and share pictures, videos etc. I also use it daily with partners, staff and our members, it makes communication so efficient and effective, and we can’t live without it!

What books/documentaries would you recommend for someone who’d like to go into your field?

Leadership books by John C Maxwell are excellent. To grow and scale a business, one must be able to develop other leaders, and this is a continued work in progress for me. I also love reading short articles online in regards to the field of leadership.

Books and YouTube videos by Tony Robbins. Not only is he a source of motivation and inspiration, his concepts around building our mental muscle and our self-confidence and breaking through limiting beliefs is important for everyone. I also like his financial book “Unshakeable”. For personal finance guidance, I really enjoy “The Barefoot Investor” by Scott Pape, whose humorous writing style and easy approach makes the personal finance concepts very easy to understand and apply.

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What projects are you working on at the moment?

We’ve kickstarted our “Curvette of the Year” campaign, which celebrates our members’ (dubbed “Curvettes”) achievements. Through this process, the winners will be given a fashion makeover, and be invited to multiple events throughout the year.

We are working with some fantastic partners in the areas of beauty, wellness, fashion etc. who also believe in women empowerment, and we know these amazing stories will help to inspire others. We now have 6 clubs in Malaysia, and are reviewing our expansion plans to open more clubs. We believe that the awareness around fitness and wellness is really opening up and we are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.

Your all-time favourite song?

That’s too hard to answer! I love upbeat songs that get my energy up – particularly Bruno Mars, Rihanna and David Guetta. An oldie but a goodie is “Vogue” by Madonna!

If you could give advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Find your Purpose, back yourself and go for it! Be prepared for a long road and lots of hard work. There will be ups and downs, but keep true to yourself and enjoy the journey!

Keep your mind open, keep learning, don’t be too hard on yourself – have fun! Also, learn about personal finance in your 20s. I wish I knew then what I know now….in your 20s you have so much TIME ahead of you, set the foundation and the rest will fall into place.