Updated: Jun 4, 2018
With the intention of celebrating women through fitness, Nawal Haddad Fitness (NHF) is one of the few fitness centers in Singapore that caters to only women and is hijab-friendly. Discover the journey that Nawal, the founder of NHF, went through.
Written by Junru Tan.
Tell us more about yourself.
My name is Nawal Alhaddad I am a fitness entrepreneur, a wife and also a mum to a one and half-year-old boy.
How and why did you become an entrepreneur? Was it something you always want to do?
I didn’t plan to go into business. I was a science student back then and I thought I had my life pretty much figure out; I would work in the lab and do research. I guess my passion for fitness and wanting to create a bigger purpose turn that into a business.
How did Nawal Haddad Fitness (NHF) come about?
Nawal Haddad Fitness started when I have the realisation that there weren’t many exercise outlets cater for women to exercise and feed off each other’s energy, Whenever I have classes, I’ve enclosed the spaces for the women to feel free to remove their hijabs and be around other women. Since the beginning, the classes have been made only for women and are hijab-friendly.
How do you balance your work and life?
Life has completely changed ever since I had my son, in a good way, of course. There will always be divided attention between work and family. One thing I’ve learnt is when you’re with family, be 100% there. It’s really important. Date night is necessary and it's my favourite time of the week because I get to relax and chuck the kids aside. I do enjoy spending time with my family and connecting with people but there are days when I like to be by myself and my thoughts. It’s necessary to have alone time because it provides your mind with some form of clarity. You sort of taking a step back and help you to make better decisions at the end of the day.
Healthwise, I work out in the morning. To be honest, I don’t work out for vanity reasons but instead, I enjoy the feeling of exercising. You feel like you can conquer anything! That’s what I look forward to. For mothers, you don’t have to leave the house and try to find any free time you can. YouTube has the best sources for workout videos, from Tabata to body combat that range from two minutes to ten minutes. All these workouts can be done at home, you probably need to invest in a yoga mat. Working out in the morning has helped me as it creates a benchmark to have a good mood for the rest of the day.
What’s your biggest advice to aspiring female entrepreneurs?
Firstly, I’m not in a position to give advice but these are what I’ve learnt from the past few years of handling my business. The first thing is collaboration. It’s super important to be able to collaborate, either with your peers or competitors, because you just never know when a good opportunity will knock on the door. Secondly, you should constantly work on yourself and never stop learning. As a “mumpreneur”, it’s important for us to feel a sense of accomplishment in whatever we do. New technology keeps coming up, thus, it’s important to learn and keep up with the new trends. The third advice is to be okay with being afraid. I think a lot of times we jump into something without knowing what's in store for us. It’s perfectly fine to fear and this is necessary for business as it boosts motivation for you to accomplish your goals.
What are the essential items you recommend?
It’s important to invest in a good camera because having an online brand presence is everything in this era. The next is a photo editing app, called VSCO, which helps to produce high-quality images similar to one taken by a professional photographer.
Who inspires you?
There’s a lot of public figures like Oprah Winfrey but the direct inspiration is my family. The support I got from them is overwhelming. In the beginning, they were also afraid but I guess they hide it and chose believed in me. Aside from my family, I am also grateful to my instructors. NDF blossomed from nothing and we are eternally grateful to all who have helped make it happened.
Are there any values you live on to?
One thing I strongly hold on to is if something doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you. I guess, in life, there will be a lot of challenges and it’s how we perceive and accept them as part of the journey and try to come up safe and successful in the end.
Can you describe in three words?
The first word would be silly. Most of the time, I don’t take myself seriously. The next would be stubborn. It’s not a good trait but this has allowed me to be thick skin. The third would be loyal. I’m loyal to the people around me and my business peers because trust means a lot to me. I guess these are the three words.
Do you have any last words to all women?
Always feel like there’s no time left. Whatever you want to do, just do it. Don’t waste time because somebody else will come up with a better idea. As long as you have a great idea and it’s achievable, just go for it and everything will come to you soon enough.
Makeup sponsored by Note Cosmetics.