This is me

In conversation with Gail Asbell

In conversation with Gail Asbell
Walking into an Upstate Studio in like a burst of happiness. The yellow glow of the decor, the friendly smiles of all the staff who feel like old friends, and the constant buzz of people (of all ages, genders and backgrounds) coming and going to classes. It’s a community, a lifestyle, a home away from home.

So it’s no surprise that we wanted to interview Gail Asbell, the co-founder of Upstate, to find out about her journey and how Upstate came to life. 

Tell us a bit about yourself?

My sister Charelle and I founded Upstate Studios in 2009. Upstate is all about creating a positive state of mind through movement, connection and positivity. Upstate has four locations in Geelong, Newtown, Torquay and Melbourne with a team of over 50 superstar instructors. My background is in brand marketing, I worked as the Brand Manager for Tourism Victoria for seven years. I love all things brand, marketing and consumer driven experiences. I am a Mum with two primary school aged children, we live on the beautiful Surfcoast in Torquay.

How, when and why did you decide to launch Upstate? What was the lightbulb moment?

Our dream to start a business together collided with a love for yoga and a passion for brand marketing. Boutique fitness was only just emerging in Australia in 2009. Having completed yoga teacher training in the USA, we saw the opportunity to elevate the customer experience of yoga and create a boutique fitness experience. From the outset our vision was to create a brand that was about more than just the classes. We wanted to create an immersive, positive and motivating experience to help people find their upstate of mind and stretch into their full potential.

It can be incredibly daunting starting your own business. What do you think equipped you for it and what gave you the conviction to actually do it?

Tragically we lost our brother in an accident and shortly after our Dad. They were in business together and were big believers in ‘you can do anything if you put your mind to it’. They inspired us to just go for it, live the life you want to live and be the best version of yourself.

What were the major obstacles or challenges, especially unforeseen ones?

Boutique fitness studios are not only in the business of fitness, they are also in the business of real estate. The planning permit and building regulatory process can be very challenging. We have managed the construction and fit outs of all our locations and have certainly learnt a lot through this process.

What were the unexpected rewards or highlights?

The rewards have most definitely been our team and the incredible community of Upstater’s we have built. Nothing beats hanging out with like minded people. Our teachers and community are full of inspiration. They are great people to have by your side, empowering and motivating each other to be your best. It’s a very social and happy hub to hang out in. I am also very proud that my sister Charelle and I have done this together, it’s been one hell of a ride and I can’t image having taking it with anyone else.

Having your own business can at times lead to self-doubt. Do you relate to this and how does it manifest for you ? How do you combat it?

I believe mindset is everything. It’s ok to have some self-doubt, the key is not to let self-doubt overwhelm you and stop you moving forward. You really have to train your mind to back yourself, make decisions and take risks. Not every decision we have made in business has been a success but we don’t veiw failure as the opposite of success, failure is a part of success. Surround yourself with people who lift you up, motivate and inspire you. Your vibe is your tribe!

On the flip side, what are your hopes and visions for putting your work out there – how do you hope the world benefits from your work?

We are obsessed with our mission to help people create a positive state of mind. Grounded in yoga in know movement greatly affects the way you think, feel and live. We are creating spaces that are bursting with good vibes, we want people to feel as though they have arrived at their happy place. Our goal is to make fitness as fun as it is challenging. We are creating experiences for people to sweat, challenge their body and mind, and make friends without taking themselves too seriously. Upstate is about creating a lifestyle you love! It’s not just about the class, it’s the whole experience connecting with like-minded people. It’s creating a positive environment and empowering people to be the best version of themselves. We are on a mission to share the good vibes, one person, one class, one studio at a time. We are 11 years in and we feel like we are just warming up!

What relationships have been integral to your journey?

My relation with my sister and business partner Charelle. We’re each other’s biggest cheerleader, and we never take ourselves too seriously. We have been through everything together and have seen each other at the most challenging and the happiest of times. We are both very positive and motivate each other.

How does being a woman impact your work?

I consciously choose to take every opportunity I can in business to inspire, empower and create change for equal opportunities and gender equity. It is important for me as a business leader to inspire females to reach their full potential. Equally as a mother I am dedicated to being a strong role model for my children, to raise this next generation of leaders to be free of gender bias.

What advice would you give women wanting to start their own thing?

Know your why. Get really clear on what lights you up, what is your purpose/mission. Having a life mission moves you out of your comfort zone, it pushes your further than you’d go on our own and it will keep you going when things get rough.

Our ethos at Jasmine Alexa is encouraging women to set their own pace. How do you slow it down and set your own pace?

I love nothing more than staring my day with a class at our studios. I attend a mix of yoga and pilates classes, if I really need to slow things down a dose of yin yoga or sound bath meditation hits the spot. if I’m not in the studios you’ll find me walking our dog on the beach!


Coffee or Tea: Coffee

Morning or Night: Morning

Books or Podcasts: Podcasts

Beach Holiday or Adventure Holiday: Beach Holiday