Asimina Kourouni is the co-founder of Tailor Your Holiday, an independent company that creates bespoke holidays, and wellbeing and Pilates retreats. I find out how her love affair with Pilates started, and discover more about her holistic approach to all aspects of life.
Tell us about your background:
I hold a University degree in Sports and Exercise Sciences, and I have over 15 years’ experience in the fitness industry. My qualifications include EREPS Level 6 health and exercise specialist, aerobic dance, prenatal Pilates, rehabilitation of the spinal cord and related musculoskeletal conditions, and Body Balance certification. Along with my Pilates studies, I have become an accredited 2nd Degree Reiki therapist of the Usui System of Natural Healing. This combination of different studies is what makes my teaching approach more holistic.
What made you fall in love with Pilates?
When I attended my first Pilates training session, I felt that it fitted my body perfectly. The way my body moved during the session felt so natural. But it was the feeling I had the following morning that made me fall in love with Pilates. I ached in parts of my body that I had never ached before! But somehow, that pain was sweet. It was the result of the effort I’d put in, without feeling exhausted at the end of the session.
How has your extensive experience within health and exercise influenced your perception of wellbeing?
At Tailor Your Holiday our motto is: ‘’Train your body, free your mind and feed your soul’’. After 15 years of practicing, training and coaching you get to a point where every single detail makes a difference. Experience gives you a better perspective of the human body, and your approach becomes more holistic. I believe that everything is connected: the body, the mind, the spirit. Pilates [is synonymous with] wellbeing for me.
Tell us more about your unique approach to training:
I am a Health and Exercise Specialist, and also a Reiki Therapist. My experience in these fields has opened my perspective and my mindset. It has been enriched by different cultures, different weather conditions, various personalities, ages and fitness levels. My approach is holistic and inclusive. You cannot be strong if your mind is weak, and you cannot achieve mentally without physical strength. Hippocrates of Kos, well known as the ”Father of Medicine”, advocated: ”A healthy mind in a healthy body”. This is my greatest belief.
What prompted you to set up Tailor Your Holiday?
That’s a great question – but not that easy to answer! The hardest part is to put the magic that happened one morning into words. The other Tailor Your Holiday founder is Andrea. We already knew each other beforehand, as we had met before at social occasions. Each one of us is very different, yet we manage to have so much in common. We are hardworking, creative and really want to make a difference. So diversity brought us together, then the Tailor your Holiday miracle began. We are both so passionate about what we do that we inspire each other. After all, life is simple and more fulfilling when you share your dreams and goals. Tailor Your Holiday’s goal is to be a ‘family’ that promotes a wellbeing lifestyle, respects nature and makes a difference to society.
What makes Tailor Your Holiday different?
We connect with the communities where our activities take place. This is essential to create a blissful wellbeing experience for you, and a sustainable business strategy for us. We have chosen only small and medium-sized, family-run businesses who employ local, experienced staff as our partners. This enables us to deliver a truly authentic local experience during your bespoke holiday or Pilates retreat.
What we leave behind in the communities where our activities take place matters hugely to us. We build long-lasting relationships with our partners, underpinned by the mutual respect of all cultural diversities. We are also committed to protect the surrounding ecosystems, and to preserve local traditions, trades and professional activities.
What exactly does Tailor Your Holiday offer?
What activities can you take part in on a retreat?
Our retreats include seaside or countryside accommodation, and different activities depending on the location. All meals are locally sourced, and healthy snacks are also included.
We customise every aspect of the Tailor Your Holiday experience to meet our clients’ unique needs. So, from the moment you contact us, we’ll make you feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible. We then provide everything you need to design and enjoy a unique experience. We offer cycling, running, trekking and hiking retreats, combined with yoga, Pilates and nutrition.
Tell us more about your Pilates classes?
We separate our Tailor Your Holiday Pilates classes into different levels: beginners, intermediate, and advanced. Our clients can use the reformer machines for compound exercises that really focus on balance and stability. However, we also offer mat Pilates classes too. My classes on the Allegro Reformer Machine with a hands-on approach are hosted at Pulse Pilates & Fitness Studio in Ipswich. My matt Pilates classes take place at Quay Place Heritage and Wellbeing Centre, Ipswich.
What are the benefits of Pilates?
- It restores your posture and teaches you how to breathe properly, so any pain related to the spine gradually decreases.
- It increases flexibility and balance, which helps you feel faster and lighter.
- Pilates activates the muscles in a way that, after a couple of sessions, the body becomes firmer. So you look taller and thinner, even if you haven’t lost a pound! It carves/shapes the body in a magical way.
- It teaches you strength and balance.
- You will work muscles you didn’t even know you had.
- You will notice the difference in your arms. Pilates doesn’t seem like the sort of exercise to work your biceps and triceps, but it really does.
- Pilates involves a lot of small, intricate movements working muscles that don’t want to work, so it requires a lot of concentration.
- It also helps to relieve physical tension in your body, making you feel nice and relaxed
- It gives you a great sense of achievement
Is Pilates more suitable for women?
Pilates is suitable for everyone. For example, we help competitive cyclists, both female and male, to build Pilates into their regime, both on and off-season. In the off-season, we use it to help them build strength and improve alignment. During the season, it helps to stretch and release tight muscles, while improving core strength.
Core strength, flexibility, balance and efficient movement patterns are highly relevant to men’s fitness. In fact, the integrative component of Pilates can be especially beneficial for men, whose workouts often emphasize a compartmentalised approach to muscular development. Increasing flexibility is a goal that Pilates addresses in a way that men often feel comfortable with. Pilates classes are all about working towards functional fitness.