Dear guests, friends and visitors, we are delighted to share with you the interview of Steffie, based in Spetses and offering yoga and fitness sessions to Yayaki residents.
Enjoy the read!
Hi Steffie, tell us a little more about you and your fitness background!
I’m half Greek, half English. I currently work as a personal trainer and yoga teacher. I grew up on Spetses but later moved to the UK to study. After graduating last summer, I returned to the island and I ended up staying for the whole year due to COVID.
Sport is something I have always been hugely passionate about and I knew, from very early on, that it’s what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing. Growing up, I played a lot of sport and I was kind of obsessed, but it got to a point where I had to specialise and that’s when athletics took over. 800m was my event. I competed for about 10 years and dreamed of racing at international level, but life had other plans!
After sustaining a serious sports injury, I was forced to drop out of sport completely. This was such a tough period for me, but the whole experience was really transformational and it taught me so much about myself and how to approach life.
Before going to university, I took 2 years out. Alongside work, I travelled around New Zealand/Cook Islands for a few months. That trip was real turning point for me.
I then went to study sport at the University of Birmingham. My favourite modules were anatomy, sociology and sports psychology. I really love learning and I always knew I wanted to be an educator of some sort. University kind of made me realise that even more.
Can you tell us a bit about your approach to fitness?
When I was competing in sport, it was all quite serious and performance driven. Although I am really grateful for that athlete mindset, I wouldn’t say it was the most sustainable approach.
Since that phase, my fitness philosophy has changed a lot. While I am just as disciplined and passionate, when it comes to working out, I no longer put so much pressure on. I just move to feel good and focus on enjoying it. However, to be able to have that approach, it’s important to find something you like…that way you will also be more consistent!
In terms of the type of workouts I do, I’m really into strength training at the moment. In the morning I train weights and in the evenings I focus on flexibility and mobility. When I’m not the gym, I’m either out on my bike, running/hiking or swimming. Every day I try to mix it up and do something different. Having a well-rounded workout routine that incorporates strength, endurance, mobility and flexibility has been a total game changer.
When it comes to nutrition, I demand a lot from my body so it’s important to fuel it properly. I always think, keep it simple, keep it balanced. Whether its fitness or nutrition, always think of longevity. Your body is your temple and you only get one. So, nourish it and take care of it.
What made you want to become a yoga teacher?
There are so many reasons, but it was really in my final year of university that I decided it’s what I wanted to do.
When I was researching for my dissertation, I became fascinated with the topic of emotion regulation and its association with mental health. At the time, I was struggling with anxiety so studying really helped me understand it better.
As I was reading through various papers, I came across a study about yoga and the nervous system. This sparked something in me and I went on to read more and more. I ended up basing my project on the topic of mindfulness in the context of sport, so it all tied in very well.
What demographic do you train?
At the moment, I’m training a mix of people. Some are complete beginners while others are a little more advanced.
I find teaching beginners very rewarding. I want to help people be active, but I want them to do it with precision. As well as minimising the potential for injury, teaching from scratch and coaching correct alignment/ execution maximises efficiency and increases people’s understanding of exercises/yoga poses. Seeing clients learn, progress and benefit from the training that we do is one of the best parts of my job.
More recently, I’ve started training seniors and this too is very gratifying. Due to the greater prevalence of health conditions/injuries in this age group, a lot of exercises need to be modified to make them more accessible. Yoga teacher training has really helped me with this.
What fitness trends do you see growing in the future?
I would say the future of fitness is not looking for short-term fads. It’s about what works for you and your body. Everyone is different and people gravitate towards different sports for their own reasons. As you evolve, so will your fitness preferences. I personally have never really followed fitness trends. I focus more on listening to my own body and that’s usually where the answer lies.
With that being said, COVID-19 has definitely changed a lot in the world of fitness. Yes, more people are working out from home, but at the same time, people’s appreciation for nature has hugely increased and so too has their desire to exercise outside.
Who do you look up to in the fitness, yoga, health world?
I really admire people who have studied their discipline for a long time and truly know their stuff. When it comes to online fitness content, I tend to follow accounts run by experts who are really passionate about what they do. I like to choose wisely.
I’m also really drawn to people who have overcome adversity and improved their life as a result. I find listening to their stories and following their journeys very inspiring.
Why do you think Spetses is the best health and wellness destination for Yayaki guests and travellers?
If you’re into hiking/running, there’s some great trails. I love going trail running and mountain biking in those areas, especially during the winter/spring months. There is such an amazing energy up there and you feel so connected to nature!
If you are more into the beach lifestyle, there’s plenty of options. The beaches at the back of the island are great for when you want a quiet day out to chill etc. I would say Zogeria, Agia Paraskevi and Kouzounos are the best for this and the water clarity is incredible! Some of the beaches have water sports too, so if you’re into that kind of thing it’s also great.
This year, I got into the habit of getting up to watch the sunrise. Some days I do a mini yoga flow with pranayama (Nadi Shodhana is one of my favourites at the moment) and then I have days where I simply sit there and watch in awe. In my opinion, if you’re in the mood and you have time, there is no better way to start the day.
Your favourite workout spot in the island?
There are so many great spots, it’s hard to choose. I love hiking up to Profitis Ilias to do yoga and film workouts. The view from there is insane and it’s so quiet.
For running, I like going to Faros, particularly for sunrise or sunset. The scenery around there is amazing. As you approach the lighthouse, there’s a bench overlooking the sea, so I usually stop there and do some drills or light stretching.
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