“Holistic wellness is more than food and exercise. It’s when you connect emotional and mental health to your diet and exercise.”

I found a magazine back in college with a couple of yoga poses, and I started to copy those at home. I enrolled for classes at Bikram Yoga in 2010. This was the time when I realized I really liked yoga. I would set aside a part of my entry-level salary for it, skipping shopping, eating out, and hanging out with my friends. After four years in advertising, I left my job and pursued teaching yoga full-time.

Holistic wellness is more than just food and exercise. It’s when you start to involve the connection between your emotional health, mental health, and your environment to your diet and exercise. It’s being able to decide if you’re still going to go to a CrossFit class or have a gentle massage after a long tiring day.

Before you try a trend on wellness and fitness, research—it’s what most people don’t do. Before you enrol in a class, you have to find out if it works for you. Find out what it’s about and if the coaches in that class you’re taking are qualified to safely guide you through the workout. Feel it out when you try it.

NT Sweat is a fusion of bodyweight circuit training, mobility and cardio dance. It’s a 60 minute workout rooted in all my movement practices, the pace set to Hiphop R&B and Dance music. I always have a DJ with me when I lead mass workouts and events to add to the party vibe.

I train on my own using a program I designed for myself. I also like to join group classes so I get to learn from other coaches in my field as well.

Those may not be bone conduction earphones on Nikki, but if you’re looking to workout they’ll do just fine.

My workout essentials are… Aftershokz Trekz Air Bone Conduction wireless earphones, my iPhone, and a water bottle. I make sure I bring a pair of white Adidas sneakers.

I became a vegetarian first in 2011. I’ve always been sensitive when it comes to animals. It’s not for health.

Lifestyle brands I support: DermAid from Healthy Options for personal care. I support local vegan brands like Zero Basics (@zerobasicsph on IG). For food, there’s Go Vegan in BGC and Green Bar in Makati. There’s also the Good Food Market at the Mandala Park Sunday Market where all of the merchants serve all-vegan food.

I’m a big fan of salads; SaladStop is a favorite. SaladStop can customize your food and they are aware of vegans. In BGC, it’s Go Vegan at The Fort Strip. It’s fairly new and they serve vegan comfort food like burgers and palabok made with chickpeas.

Nikki in La Union.

US-based Filipina who runs ASTIG Vegan (Astigvegan.com) is one of the OGs in vegan cooking. She is religious in posting recipes. She would have the Filipinos in mind and come up with a vegan version of Filipino dishes like adobo. Another one I follow is BOSH! (Bosh.tv).

Among my favorite vegan chefs is Lakapati Basa of The Real Happy Cow (@TheRealHappyCowPH), which you’ll catch at Mandala Park on Sundays. She comes up with everything on the menu, including a vegan version of chicken nuggets.

I love a good lymphatic drainage massage. It’s not the usual massage for muscle soreness that I love but the detoxification. It’s light strokes all over your body that passes through your lymphatic system, boosting your immunity and detoxifying your body. I also like Swedish massage, hilot or deep tissue massage, and Abhyanga, an ancient Indian oil massage where the therapist pours two buckets of chosen herbal oils on you, massages the oil until it’s absorbed, and then you rinse.

My go to spa salons: Massage MNL mobile spa or Zennya app for the lymphatic drainage massage, Swedish, and hilot; Arogya Manila for Abhyanga.

My travel essentials: Adidas activewear, my Adidas UB19 running shoes, and my Macbook Pro not because I want to work while I’m on vacation but because it’s the best place for inspiration to strike.

The best mindfully-operated tour I know of is MAD Travel (Madtravel.org). I appreciate their travel-for-a-cause concept.

Nikki in Siargao

My most memorable holiday has to be my first visit to Siargao in 2015. There wasn’t much happening there yet and there weren’t a lot of vegan food options available. I loved how free I was to ride my bike around. The small community of locals were very warm and welcoming and it felt like home to me.

My favorite beach is anything with white sand, is exclusive or away from the crowds. It’s pretty old school, but San Juan before La Union was developed is one of them. Baler was one I used to go to a lot before it was developed. We would stay at a friend’s farm, about five- to 10-minutes’ drive away from the beach. I still like Boracay because of its beauty and accessibility to restaurants and shops. I also like islands like Siargao’s Naked Island.

Nikki at Atmosphere Resort.

Atmosphere Resort in Dauin, Dumaguete is a boutique resort that I really like going back to. They have a spa called The Sanctuary with a massage area that’s like a secret garden. They built their own weather-proof outdoor gym, have a pro athlete as a guide for a 20-kilometer bike tour, a restaurant with plenty of vegan options, and diving operated by certified diving instructors. They even have a tree-top yoga deck that looks out into the ocean!

Who is Nikki Torres?

Nikki created NT sweat, a choreographed toning + cardio fitness class that focuses on muscle toning and building cardiovascular endurance while moving to the beat of the hottest HipHop-R&B and dance tracks. She’s also a yoga teacher, an ambassador for Adidas Philippines, and the blogger behind Pretty Darn Fit (prettydarnfit.com), one of the top Health & Fitness blogs in the country.

All photos courtesy of Nikki Torrres