Words by Lean Miller (@leanmiller) and Geraldine Hoggang (@geraldinehoggang)
Anyone who’s in the process of trying to make going to the gym a habit knows that keeping up motivation levels is no easy feat especially at the start. What if we told you, however, that in existence is a gym tucked away in the South that will keep your endorphin levels pumping and heart rate soaring under the watchful eye of 17 furry coaches?
That’s right! We’re talking about the cats at Uniflex Gym in Parañaque. They may not be your typical work-out buddies, but you’d be surprised to note that they’re as effective or even more so!
Lea Barretto and Alex Cardenas, the owners of Uniflex Gym, initially opened their establishment in 2013 alongside adopting two of their first cats aptly named Uni and Flexi.
Lea came from the US and immediately noticed how stray cats were so common in the Philippines. She then started saving as many as she could.
Every new addition from Miki, Curly, Mallows, Kermit, Twix, Tort, Mac, Spag, Suki, Fudge, Little Orange, Scruffy Doo, Tortellini, and Kitkat came with a unique backstory.
The common thread is that they were abandoned when they were months or weeks or even days old and brought to the loving care of Lea who so kindly took them in and gave them a home at Uniflex.
In turn, their 17 furry pets have become like family not only to each other but to the gym goers as well. Ria, a regular Uniflex fitness enthusiast since 2015, mentions that she gets more motivated when she sees them curling around the treadmill or watching her to monitor if she’s doing her weights work-out correctly. Allan, another member, claims that he originally did not like cats, but after frequenting the gym, he has learned to love them.
Handling all of these cats, however, proves to have its fair share of challenges such as their strong feline personalities that result in conflict with each other. Most especially Twix who gets jealous of the other cats when they’re showered with affection.
They also had to get brand new work-out equipment because the cats scratched at the previous ones. Additionally, wireless keyboards within their reach are not safe from their claws. Not to mention that the handling of seventeen cats is costly in terms of food, litter box requirements, and visits to the vet.
Lea admits to having a hard time taking care of all seventeen of them which is why some are up for adoption. But she is very strict about the people who want to adopt them! Potential new owners are required to have the adopted cats spayed or neutered, kept well-fed, and indoors only, and must post updates and pictures of the adopted cats regularly.
While taking care of these 17 furry animals feels like taking care of 17 children, everyone in the gym considers them as family. Lea notes, “they adopt us, not the other way around,” which goes to show that these cats are worth it anyway. Some people come to the gym not necessarily being cat lovers, but the longer they stay, they too get converted by how lovable they are.
So if you feel like you need that extra push for leg day or are even considering adopting a stray, swing by Uniflex Gym and say hi to seventeen of your new furry friends!
414 El Grande Avenue Phase III BF Homes, Parañaque 1720
(02) 403 3751