Meet Holistic Retreat Master Trainer... Gemma Cousins

12th December

Tell me about your role at Gymbox.

As the Holistic Retreat Master Trainer, I oversee the whole category – auditioning for new talent, organising instructor training's and workshops, as well as developing new creative class ideas.

The category includes all of the yoga, Pilates and balates (bar and Pilates) classes, but there are so many different styles within that. We’re always coming up with new ideas to keep the classes fresh and to keep members interested. Adding a new creativity to what’s already there is really important, as well as making sure we have really knowledgeable, skilled instructors who are at the top of their game.

And what’s your background – how did you end up here?

I was a professional dancer, working in musical theatre as well as backing dancing in music videos. I did things like the X Factor, Clothes Show Live and dancing for Pink at the Brit Awards, but after 10 years in a really competitive industry, I decided to change my lifestyle and went to live in Brazil for a couple of years. l love nature, travelling and the outdoors so I enjoyed beach life on the famous Copacabana beach, teaching stand up paddle-boarding and personal training, and after I came back to London, I needed something to focus on. That’s when I did my yoga teacher training. I went straight into teaching yoga at Gymbox, and it’s gone from there.

It seems like everything you’ve done so far is perfect preparation for this role!

Working as a dancer, doing a lot of choreography and directing, and mixing creativity with managing and communicating with other people – I really like how this role brings all those elements together and allows me to put my ideas into practice.


Which classes do you particularly like?

I had a lot of fun with the drum & bass yoga class recently, mixing HIIT training with power yoga. It brought together the yin and yang, mixing the fiery yang energy we all have within us with our softer yin side allowing for a harmonious internal balance of energy. Some people are more inclined to one side over the other, so this class is really good to balance it all out and bring out the side that might be more deficient.

I also have a lot of fun with Buti Yoga – it’s a mix of tribal dance, plyometrics and power yoga. I love each of those things individually but combine them together, put the lights down and the music up and it creates a really empowering experience. It’s just you on your mat and you can allow yourself to move freely, with an open heart and letting go of any inhibitions. I love seeing people surprise themselves in the practice, moving freely with open hearts, it’s a really fun class.

Is there any advice you’d give to someone who’s never tried one of the holistic retreat classes before?

I’d suggest hatha yoga, yoga for lifting or vinyasa, or a Pilates class, to start. The creative classes don’t always break the poses down so much, so it’s good to get the basics first. However, our classes are open to all levels and the professional instructors will always offer options for beginners.

But I’d also say to keep going! There’s so much to take in that you might hate your first class – give yourself at least two months, as soon as you start to understand the breath and the poses it becomes a totally different experience.

People can often have misconceptions that holistic classes are easy, or that they’re “for women”, but they can be really difficult, and challenging in different ways. They increase your strength, your range of motion and flexibility – everyone needs to make sure their joints are supple as well as strong and stable. If you’re not balancing out the body, you may end up causing injury to your body.

We’re also living in a really fast-paced society, and we can become disconnected from ourselves. Slowing things down can be one of the most beneficial things for yourself. Holistic classes, especially yoga which focuses on the breath, allows your mind to slow down and gives you time to regain your energy and your thoughts. Maybe you’re stuck in a particular mindset, or something’s happening in your life and you need time out: listening to your breath can be one of the most healing things you can do.


Where is your practice taking you next?

I always like to keep learning so I can be the best teacher I can possibly be by developing myself – you never know everything! I’ve run three yoga retreats this year already, in Sri Lanka, France and Bali. It’s such an honour to lead a retreat, and I always come away learning so much from the people I’ve been with. I also went to Italy in September to do some more training!

What makes Gymbox different to working in other gyms?

You’re not stuck doing the same thing, day in, day out! They give you a lot of creative flexibility, and the members are always open to new ideas and new concepts. That’s what keeps Gymbox ahead of their game. We’re not scared to go out of the box.


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