We're back for another instalment, and this time we had the honour of sitting down with Elisa Fausto-Iossifidis, the proud owner of Inspire Yoga Pilates & Fitness. It was truly a pleasure getting an exclusive insight into the studio and its founder - someone you will soon read is a true ambassador for the UAE yoga and fitness community.
Let’s start at the beginning…tell us a little about yourself; where are you from, what brought you to Dubai, how long have you been here?
My love with Dubai began in 1995 when I came here to work for Emirates as a cabin crew; I can’t believe it’s been 22 years. I am originally from the Philippines, the youngest of nine kids and a licensed pharmacist. Wellness has always been important to me.
Where did your journey with yoga begin? And what was it that attracted you to yoga?
While travelling the world, I realised it was very important for me to keep my life grounded. In the beginning it was gym sessions, group exercise classes and trying all different fad diets that were in at that time … I wanted to be fit and strong.
The shift to mindful wellness happened when I was introduced to hot yoga. Initially I was interested in the physical results, until eventually I noticed how other aspects of my life started to change: I slept better, I was happier and calmer, especially at work. My relationship with food also changed; I stopped counting calories and focused on the benefits I get from the food I put in my body.
Was it love at first practice? How often do you practice?
I remember my first hot yoga class. I thought I was going to pass out from the heat and humidity of the room. I almost walked out, but I am to determined (my husband says stubborn) to just give up and I finished the class. Drenched in sweat as I was driving home I noticed I had this huge grin on my face … I was happy!
I knew then I was into something really good! I kept coming back and eventually did my 200 hours yoga teachers training. The rest is history.
My personal practice is at least four times a week. I go to different classes in the studio depending on what my mind and body need. Some days it’s the rhythmic flow of the vinyasa, other days I need to challenge myself more by coming to our warm core and sculpt classes that incorporate light weights into your traditional flow class...and some days I know I need to slowdown and surrender to a yin practice. I also believe in incorporating other disciplines with yoga, so twice a week I practice calisthenics with a personal trainer.
In your words, what makes yoga and fitness in general so important to you?
Having dabbled in quite a few fitness and wellness practices, I knew that yoga was something I would do for life. I found that yoga is meditation in motion, and meditation is something that helped me quiet the constant chatter and sweep off the fluff that everyday life continuously pushes on our plates.
I stopped trying to look outside for validation and learnt to look inside to find the happiness that I constantly strived for.
I remember when I used to do a lot of group exercise in my 20’s, I always competed and compared myself with the others in class … lifting heavier, kicking higher, running faster. Today I focus on what’s happening on my own mat. On days that I struggle balancing, I recognise that it may reflect my mental state that morning and that I need to slow it down and just breathe.
We are physical beings and general fitness is important to living an active life. Yoga adds more depth to that because it touches our mental and eventually spiritual being.
Ideally we should age gracefully and I believe this can only be achieved if we develop better awareness and understanding of ourselves as unique individuals. That’s the beauty of yoga! When we better ourselves, we eventually better the community and better the world.
Let us take a moment to list Elisa's current certifications: Absolute Hot Yoga 200 hours, Hatha 100, Yin Yoga 50 hours with Corinna Benner, Les Mills Body Balance, Mat 1 Pilates Moves Certification, Barre Certification, Barre Tribecca, BodyShred Jillian Michaels...phew, that's quite a list!
Elisa is proud to point out some of the notable yogis she has practiced with, namely Tymi Howard (Inspire Studio, Dubai), Christopher Harrison (Antigravity, New York), Yogananth Andiapan (Anahata Yoga, Koh Samui).
When questioned about her favourite yoga poses, Elisa very quickly confirms that any heart opening poses are at the top of her list - "The heart chakra is related to our ability to give and receive love. Opening our heart centre allows us to feel love, compassion and grace."
Like many other yogis, Elisa's go to yoga mat is the Liforme Yoga Mat (distributed by Fit ME Active and sold at Inspire Studio...might we add) - Purple Earth being her current colour of choice.
I promise we’re not Instagram stalking you, but are we right in thinking it’s a passion you share with your other half?
Yes! I feel very fortunate to share similar passions in life with my husband John. We were both gym junkies; in fact we met in a group exercise class many years ago.
Initially fitness was a means to cope with the stresses and demands of everyday life. Now it is very different; it isn’t just fitness, but also wellness and mindfulness. We come to our mats because we both love the stillness and peace we find in our practice … it’s our individual date with ourselves always trying to peel another layer to fully understand our “self”.
What would be a typical day for Elisa?
A typical day starts at 5:30am wake up licks from our 2 furry babies and husband waking up to do some exercise or yoga before work (he’s the early bird). I take this moment to listen to some guided meditation using Insight Timer to start my day right.
The working day starts with emails around 8am. I would then do a combination of the following:
I go to the studio every day mixing the times and days to ensure I interact with clients coming on different timings and classes throughout the week. One cannot overestimate the importance of receiving feedback directly from your clients.
I block time every day to focus on learning and implementing different aspects of the business (e.g. social media, marketing, new trends)
Meetings and demos from teachers wanting to join the Inspire family
Attend a yoga class or calisthenics session
Visit to the supermarket for studio and house supplies
Catch up with the teachers for a bite or tea
Come home to spend time with the dogs
Back again at the studio in the evening and then head home to prepare dinner
What made you take the plunge into starting Inspire?
Dubai has been home to me for over 22 years and it has been kind to me. After working for Emirates for 14 years and in the events industry for over 3 years, both can be pretty stressful at times, I recognised how challenging it was to maintain a sense of balance in our daily life. My yoga practice far from being perfect, was my anchor in staying happy.
Inspire is borne out of the desire to spread this sense of balance and well being to as many people as we can possibly reach. It is our way of giving back. What better way to be in a business that helps make positive changes in people’s lives physically, mentally and eventually spiritually!
Inspire opened its doors on September 14th, 2014 and thanks to its 15 teachers offers a wide range of classes; heated and non-heated yoga (Vinyasa, Hot 26, Yin, Yin Yang, Ashtanga, Jimavukti, Hatha, Slow Flow, Yin and Roll), Barre Pilates, Cardio Pilates, Circuit Training and Shred & Stretch. For those who are counting, that's 13 classes!!
Inspire's facilities include a contemporary, minimalist lounge, tea & coffee facilities (we personally enjoyed the Rooibos tea), alkaline water station, complimentary wifi (we all like a bit of free wifi), frosted studio windows, men's and ladies lockers, toilet and rain shower areas and complimentary mats & towels.
If you don’t mind us asking, did you encounter any notable challenges or hurdles in the beginning? Trouble with the neighbours?
Finding the right location and contractor to help put together the actual physical structure of the studio was the biggest hurdle at the beginning.
Initially the space where Inspire is right now was only offered to a business who can take the entire floor, which were 6 relatively big offices. John and I managed to convince the landlord to meet with us and I guess as a team, we were pretty convincing.
The contractor was a different story. The first company we worked with had difficulty in getting the necessary permits to start with the build. This resulted in at least 3 months delay. I was quite fortunate to be referred to a female designer who happens to be the wife of Bystro café owner Josh, our downstairs neighbour. She is a very passionate Italian lady, who together with her team got the work done fast and beautifully! There’s much to be said about power of a very determined and passionate woman!
What’s your secret to success?
I’m guided by 3 principles in life
Plans for the future? Another studio maybe?
We are actively looking for another space for Inspire 2. Ideally it would have the same attributes of our first studio; accessibility, parking, lots of light and most importantly, a neighbourhood that inspires a sense of community.
We have some of the most passionate and inspiring teachers in town and we want to be able to provide them the space to share their love of yoga to many by opening in other locations where we deem it is needed.
SPECIAL EVENT ALERT!
Into the New Year Desert Sunset Yoga and Sound Meditation - date and venue to be advised towards the middle of December.
Current Special Offers
If there was one thing you would like your students to take away from their time at Inspire, what would it be?
The moment spent on your mats is an expression of your self love.
Keep an open mind and an open heart, allow your practice to be a journey to understanding yourself more so that you can live the most beautiful version of your life…full and meaningful.
Off your mat, spend time to get to know the person who you meet in the studio, everyone has a story that might just inspire you.
Any last words for the local yoga community?
All of us can benefit with a bit of yoga in our lives.
As studio owners lets be supportive of each other and strive to make the business of yoga about helping people; yes it is a business and bills need to be paid but let’s not forget why we started in the first place … people before numbers.
As practitioners let’s be open to digging in deeper to the true essence of the practice beyond looks focussing on how we feel and how we can create a better community for everyone.
Conclusion: Yoga can be a powerful tool to change one’s life, community, city, nation at a time. Share it, love it and live it!
Timings : Weekdays - 6am to 10:30pm, Weekends - 8:30am to 8pm
Website : www.inspiremeyoga.net
Phone : 04 321 9771
Location : Unit 102+103, Indigo Central 8, Al Manara, Dubai
Introductory One Month Unlimited Classes AED400
One Month Unlimited Classes AED800
One Year Unlimited Classes AED5500
Recurring 5 Class Package AED325 (minimum 3 months)
Six Months - Monthly Instalments AED650
One Year - Monthly Instalments AED550
A big thank you to Elisa for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer our questions and becoming the first studio to be featured on our blog. Another huge shout out goes to Warren a.k.a. @africanaviator for the amazing pictures - the only photographer we need in our phonebook!