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Health coach Nina Marcelo: Don’t torture your body into submission

Fitness shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all. Follow your own rules

Nina Marcelo (leftmost) with friends Vee and Rainstar


Among the long list of issues in our slowly declining country, it is quite amusing how we have somehow managed to throw into the mix what I can only call diet culture. Do not take this term in its most literal sense; diet culture rides the wave of unrealistic body standards, unattainable workout plans, and an overall unhealthy way of treating your body.

It is easy to chalk up this diet culture to the dark side of social media, and while it is true that Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok have their flaws, we can’t ignore the fact that generational trauma has had a hand in this, too. From when your tita tells you how fat you got since you went to college, to the blatant stares you get when walking in shorts on a hot day, being bigger does not mean better here in the Philippines. It seems we did not get the memo on body positivity, despite the protests of many against body shaming.

Founder and CEO Nina Marcelo

How do we remedy this? Like in anything else, we need a pioneer. Nina Marcelo did more than espouse this mindset—she has stepped into the fitness industry.

She is a certified holistic health coach and owner of the active wear brand, Own Rules Active. She is on a mission to educate people on how to treat their bodies correctly.

“I wanted to make activewear first,” said Nina. “Aside from the physical side of everything, I’m also really into fashion, so I wanted to incorporate fashionable activewear. When I got the idea, athleisure was trending, especially because of the pandemic. So it started more with creating apparel, but the brand developed alongside it. With holistic coaching, I officially started only this year.”

Since her certification, she has curated a fitness program, Change from Within, and has enlisted many clients since its launch in February. Her program is structured around three main pillars: movement, nutrition, and mindset. She customizes these three concepts specifically to your goals, and guides you through the initial steps of holistic health journey.

“I would say the foundation of everything is mindset, building that foundation to help clients set themselves up for success. I’ll give them journal prompts to do before our first meeting, which help them think about where they see themselves in three to six months, or even a year down the line. What is holding them back from really reaching their goals. And more importantly, what is their why?

Hayat Al Mussally

The essence of being holistic became evident as one listened to Nina—not just in her words but also in the manner she was saying them—insightful, eloquent, and most of all, deliberate and mindful. From her I learned that the root of holistic health is to be mindful of whatever you do with your body, enhanced by your intuition, with what you know and ought to know about your body. You will learn how to apply both in her course.

“It was at the beginning of this year when I really started to see the changes within myself and how intuitive I am with my body,” Nina said. “I know myself so well now, and I want to help people experience that change for themselves, too. The brand was still very new at the time, so I also wanted to learn something new and do something more productive with my time. That’s how I came up with the holistic health course, and now I’m here.”

I have yet to find someone in our side of the pond who focuses specifically on teaching you how to nurture your body. I have come across so many fitness influencers who focus on strict diets or weightlifting or immense cardio, but never one that focused on the art of getting to know your body and its needs. Perhaps it is due to my ignorance or lack of research, but it is a relief to find someone stepping up to make a change.

Own Rules Active moves away from the fitness industry’s idea of one size fits all

“In the previous generation, they didn’t have anyone doing the work that I do. Own Rules Active moves away from the fitness industry’s idea of one size fits all, or that to build a dream body, you needed to hit the gym or do a specific workout. I think people were pushing weightlifting a lot, and that’s great and all, but it’s not for everyone. There are other types of movement that suit your body more. That’s how I came up with Own Rules, because it is a movement on your own terms.”

Core Collection cycling shorts

The price range of Own Rules Active is from P1,800 to P2,000. Their first collection features neutral blue, squat-proof, high-waisted leggings that can be paired with a reversible sports bra that can alternate between blue and white—perfect for the girl on the go!

It’s time we changed the way we look at our bodies, and nurture them instead of torturing them into submission. Life suddenly gets much easier that way.

You can visit Own Rules Active on their instagram: @ownrulesactive, or their website:

About author


She is a 22-year-old International Relations graduate of the University of Navarra in Spain. She enjoys reading, baking and playing mahjong, preferably with gin and tonic within reach. She is an advocate of social equality.

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