Whether it’s distracting your body or sorting out your mind, having a good ole’ sweat, stretch and endorphin rush has been a go-to for getting us through recent months. The head-clearing magic of Yoga has been an absolute no-brainer for many of us. And since the launch of Out The Box, we’ve seen more of you hitting the mat wherever and whenever you need that moment of calm. We got Holistic Master Trainer Jess Parkinson to take a breather from her busy schedule to tell us more about life, Gymbox and how she’s helping you find your flow…
What does your role as Gymbox Holistic Master Trainer involve?
My role as Holistic Master Trainer primarily involves making sure the classes in my category run smoothly and are the best they possibly can be. We have everything from yoga to Pilates, with lots of variations of these through Gymbox's renowned Creative Classes. Mainly, I audition and recruit new, fantastic instructors, lead their training, sort our state-of-the-art equipment in our studios and help to create brand new classes for our timetable.
How were you introduced to Gymbox and how long have you been working there?
I’ve been at Gymbox for almost 6 years and actually started out as a spin instructor! Living and working in central London, I had always been aware of Gymbox and it seemed like such a cool and funky place. When I qualified as a PT and fitness instructor, I headed straight there to hand in my CV and that’s where my journey began.
Back in 2017, I helped create a class in a collab with cleaning brand ‘Method’ called Spin Cycle - it was such a fun experience and that was when I knew Gymbox was a working environment I loved. When I qualified as a yoga teacher, it was wonderful to expand my repertoire and connect with more members.
I then went into School of Rock In the West End for 2 years, so I was only teaching a handful of classes alongside 8 shows a week! But when I left and saw the Master Trainer role pop up, I just knew I had to apply.
How did you get into yoga, and what made you decide to take the next step and become a teacher?
When I was teaching spin, I was actually teaching around 15 classes a week. As you can imagine, that number of classes took their toll and I ended up suffering with a hip injury. While going through the healing process, I realised I needed something other than high energy classes to teach.
As many Westerners do, I approached yoga from a physical need, hoping it would give me a way of still earning money but in a gentler way. This is why I did my first teacher training. Pretty swiftly, I began to see such a change in myself - not just physically, but mentally and spiritually too. Friends commented on the change in me, and there started my appreciation for yoga as a lifestyle and not just a physical practice.
There are many different styles of yoga. Which is your favourite and why?
It's so hard to name just one style of yoga as my favourite, but I will say that doing my Yin Yoga teacher training was a real game changer for me. The extensive training I did in Yin made me realise how imperative it is to find the balance between yin and yang.
Like many of us living in London, I was always a very ‘yang’ person, drawn to dynamic practices and pushing myself to my limits. Yin yoga taught me the necessary lesson of stillness and acceptance. It's a very meditative practice, which has been a life saver for me over the years but especially during this crazy one! I urge everyone to give it a go.
How did you find lockdown and what did you do with your time? Everyone's experiences have varied drastically!
I'm so cautious about how I answer this because, as you say, everybody's experiences have been so different, but I feel like I had a pretty positive experience overall.
My lockdown was surprisingly busy. I actually did another 200 hour yoga course, and most of my private clients moved online. Pretty quickly I started picking up corporate classes online too. Gymbox also kept me very busy with the Instagram Lives they put out, and I know so many people loved the content we helped provide during that period!
Do you think yoga has become more popular as a result of the pandemic? Lots of people seem to have picked it up as it’s easy to do online and helps with anxiety…
I absolutely do think yoga and holistic practices as a whole have gained popularity - they have supported many people during a really quite challenging time. During lockdown, I started leading free daily meditations on Instagram Live and it was humbling to hear how many people relied on those 15-20 minutes a day. People who had never meditated in their lives were telling me how much it helped and it was amazing to see people dedicating themselves to the new and unknown in order to help them through it.
What's your favourite thing about being the Holistic Master Trainer at Gymbox?
Definitely the connection with the instructors and building a feeling of team spirit. The pandemic certainly challenged that, but I feel it's actually bought a lot of us closer and it's amazing to see so many instructors adapting to the new world of online teaching as well as coming back to teach under new rules and measures.
What's your favourite thing about teaching yoga?
Introducing people to yoga and making the practice accessible – while honouring the roots of yoga and planning my classes meticulously, I try to make it fun and inclusive. I love seeing how yoga can impact a person - whether creating a sense of calm, seeing improvements in physical function or the smile on their face afterwards. It's very rewarding.
You can follow Jess on Instagram and catch her whenever you want on Out The Box, just start your 14 day free trial now.