Waiting to Exhale: Isabelle Daza Takes Time to Unwind, Find Balance, and Feel the Moment Amid Changes in Her Hyper-Driven World - Lifestyle Asia

“We’re not human doings. We’re human beings. So it’s okay to just be.”

As a fitness enthusiast, Isabelle Daza Semblat is known to engage in high-intensity workouts. Yet, she knows these must be taken down a notch upon reaching motherhood. Since giving birth to sons Balthazar and Valentin with husband Adrien Semblat, she keeps her workout routine light and condensed.

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“I have to be thinking of my children,” she shares. From reaching her goal of walking 8,000 steps a day, doing lightweights, pilates, to postnatal yoga, she never stops keeping fit, even when it is a slow journey.

What matters the most is that she commits to it while being hands-on with her family and work.

New stage

The life of the actress turned entrepreneur naturally changed when she became a parent. While she loves it, she admits it is a challenge, especially when the global pandemic hit.

Dress, PHILLIP LIM from universe; rings, NATALYA LAGDAMEO AND SUKI; earrings, CAROLINA HERRERA; shoes, CHARLES AND KEITH

“It’s really difficult to be working at home, and the school is at home. It was a struggle. Honestly, I almost went insane,” she reveals.

Fortunately, her toddlers busy themselves through the different science activities for children on YouTube. “I became his teacher slash mom,” Daza says about Balthazar, whom the family fondly calls Baltie.

This was in the early days of the pandemic, but she knew to make adjustments to their routine when she gave birth to Valentin. “We really try to limit screen time, so that’s why we want to keep them stimulated by other things like playing outside, or reading a book or playing with toys,” she explains.

Dress, MARK BUMGARNER; rings, NATALYA LAGDAMEO AND SUKI; necklace, CAROLINA HERRERA AND NATALYA LAGDAMEO; earrings, NATALYA LAGDAMEO

Despite the struggles brought by the pandemic, she never forgets to share the value of praying and having a grateful heart for her children.

“I find that my son does this thing where if he doesn’t have a certain toy or an animal, he always talks about what he doesn’t have,” Daza shares. “I’m just alarmed that he thinks that way. So, we’ve started saying out loud what we’re grateful for. We take turns as a family.”

Along with teaching her kids how to be grateful, Daza’s parenting style includes developing a positive relationship with their feelings.

Blazer, DELIVER DELIVER, daily trousers, DEBBIE CO; rings, NATALYA LAGDAMEO AND SUKI; necklace, CAROLINA HERRERA

“Definitely, Baltie has bouts of being a bit jealous and wanting the attention on him—and I was trying to balance that,” she shares on the transition of being a mother of one to two. “As a mom, I really try to respect the child. “

Finding stillness

These new practices they incorporated help them take a moment to appreciate life and stay hopeful even in a time of crisis. It’s easy to feel the opposite, Daza admits. But at the same time, she wants to break the stigma of having to be happy or positive all the time.

“It’s healthy to feel sad and hopeless at times because it’s a balance,” she counters. When she finds herself in such a situation, she allows herself to take a moment to feel it. “I needed to go through it in order to overcome it.”

Blazer, DELIVER DELIVER, daily trousers, DEBBIE CO; rings, NATALYA LAGDAMEO AND SUKI; necklace, CAROLINA HERRERA

Meditation comes in handy when she brings her family to do it together. In the morning, they take 20 to 30 deep breaths, staying still for five to eight seconds. At night, they practice it as well. “It’s a habit that I’m trying to build, and I’ve started ever since I was young.”

Good for you

Doing what she thinks is best for her and her family is a reflection of Recess, the zero-pressure activewear line Daza co-founded with Anne Curtis, Pauline Ortega, and Roxanne Farillas in 2020.

“Hustle culture,” which is defined as the constant attempt to work as many hours in a day as possible, drove the 33-year-old to build Recess in contrast to that way of living.

I love the idea of carving out time for yourself, and that’s how Recess was born. We wanted to encourage people to have a break and do something good for [themselves]. And I always say this: we’re not human doings. We’re human beings,” she shares. “So it’s okay to just be.

Top and pants, PATTY ANG; rings, NATALYA LAGDAMEO AND SUKI; necklace, NATALYA LAGDAMEO AND SUKI; earrings, SUKI

According to Daza’s observations, the glamorization of being busy has negatively impacted society on how we perceive productivity. “I feel now that everything on social media is showing how busy you are, how much work you have, and it’s like your portfolio is social media, right?

“So, if you’re not busy, you’re kind of useless and a deadbeat. Or that’s at least how it makes you feel, you don’t say it, but that’s how you feel,” the mom of two shares.

Recess’ collections include bras, tops, jackets, and leggings that support a full range of motion and are suitable for low impact to high-intensity exercises. The pieces are also designed for when you’re just lounging around at home doing nothing.

Top, CAROLINA HERRERA; rings, NATALYA LAGDAMEO AND SUKI; necklace and earrings, CAROLINA HERRERA

Daza discloses that when she was going through the beginning stages of the pandemic in Hong Kong, where her family was temporarily relocated for Adrien’s work, her goal was to use the time to immerse herself with knowledge and “just learn, learn, learn.”

“But I realized I just wanted to do nothing,” Daza recalls. “I just wanted to stare at a blank wall, and that’s all I wanted to do. And I realized that talking to my therapist, and she [said] ‘that’s absolutely fine.”

“So my point is that doing nothing is very nourishing to you,” Daza continues. “And sometimes, we do need to take time to do nothing.”

Dress, MARK BUMGARNER; rings, NATALYA LAGDAMEO AND SUKI;
bracelet, CAROLINA HERRERA; earrings, NATALYA LAGDAMEO

The lifestyle brand came after years of being on a fitness journey of her own and once participating in the rise and grind culture like many around the world. She and her co-founders knew to direct the spotlight into taking a break once in a while.

Recess is for women and anyone who identifies as one. They can wear activewear doing different activities, even as their bodies go through various life stages.

Nurturing growth

The multi-hyphenate reveals this is her first time in retail. Although there are challenges such as difficulties in production at the height of the pandemic, she shares enjoying the process. “In order to be able to grow your business, you also have to have fun doing it,” she affirms.

Top, CAROLINA HERRERA; rings, NATALYA LAGDAMEO AND SUKI; necklace and earrings, CAROLINA HERRERA

From hiring the right, competent people aligned with her values, managing people to being on top of her finances, Daza continuously learns something new as an entrepreneur.

“We really try to embody the brand not only in our products but in our company with our employees,” she says. “We’re proud to say that it is something that we do try—nurture people and grow with them.”

With Recess’s mission for women to pamper themselves, Daza says, “we want our consumers to feel like they have a piece of something special and crafted for them.” While they are still a start-up, much thought and care are given to the products they create. “We want it to have a purpose, and we want people to love it for a long time.”

Dress, MARK BUMGARNER; rings, NATALYA LAGDAMEO AND SUKI; necklace, CAROLINA HERRERA AND NATALYA LAGDAMEO; earrings, NATALYA LAGDAMEO

With the brand’s objective to positively impact its customers’ lives, Daza’s able to help others. Now in her thirties, she values serving other people more than she’s ever considered previously.

“True happiness comes from helping others. Which I never believed before. I was like, ‘what? No, I’m [going to] help myself,’ she reflects. “When you’re younger, you’re just like ‘me, me, me, me.’ And then when you get older, you’re like gosh, what have I done to impact the world to change the world.”

In addition to realizing the importance of being there for people other than yourself, Daza believes that recognizing the people who love you can let you live a full life.

Blazer, DELIVER DELIVER, daily trousers, DEBBIE CO; rings, NATALYA LAGDAMEO AND SUKI; necklace, CAROLINA HERRERA

“Look around you. Your family, your friends—let’s say those 10 people you love to love you back, I feel like that’s a pretty meaningful life,” she muses. 

Text KATHARINE ALAMARES, ANGELA CASCO, and MICA CRUZ
Photos by JAN MAYO
Assisted by JV RABANO
Creative Direction by MARC YELLOW
Styling by STYLIZED STUDIO’s JOY BERNARDO
Assisted by JOLO
Make up by EMMAN MAGPANTAY
Hair by MONG AMADO
Sittings Editor DONG RONQUILLO
Coordination MAE TALAID

Shot on location at The Peninsula Manila
Special thanks to Mariano Garchitorena and Grace Lim

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