At Move Daily we believe in the power of teamwork. As such, we have partnered with a variety of other health & wellness practitioners in our community that we'll be introducing over the course of the following months. Today, we would like to introduce Jackie Mirkopoulos via Q & A regarding life, health, and the essence of Evolve Holistic.
"Jackie Mirkopoulos is a vibrant beam of light infused with pure love. Her hunger for learning and experience has inspired her to find a deeper approach to health.
She has a combined 15 years of experience with Fascial Stretch Therapy, Kinesiology, Massage Therapy, Life Stretch, Reiki, Chi Nei Tsang Thai Abdominal Massage, Mindful Movement and is deeply involved in the Toronto health and fitness community.
At Evolve Holistic, Jackie will help you grow and deal with the physical and mental demands of your life. Her mission is to educate and empower people to connect with and reclaim their inner power, and learn to become their own healer. Her personal evolution in cultivating self-awareness has her excited about igniting that desire in others.”
Move Daily (MD): What inspired you to work in the health and wellness industry? Was it something you knew you wanted to do growing up, or was it something you found along the way?
Jackie: The number one reason is because health is everything. Without health, nothing else matters. I think it’s the most important part of our lives.
That being said, it’s definitely something I found. As one of the youngest members of my family, I saw my relatives having to contend with diabetes, heart conditions, and cancer all of which motivated me over time to find another path and do something different to avoid those risks. It inspired me to go into Kinesiology and RMT because I wanted to learn how to be healthy, first for myself, but then how to also help others.
MD: Were there any peak or pivotal moments that shaped your career after studying Kinesiology?
Jackie: It wasn’t until I went to the Sutherland-Chan massage school, after the broad scope of Kinesiology, that I realized working with people’s bodies and tissues in manual treatment was where I really wanted to focus my practice.
MD: What inspired you to found Evolve Holistic?
Jackie: What inspired me to found Evolve was in large part my own health journey. It started out as being an athlete, then learning to understand movement, and finally trying every possible way of eating or dieting to figure out what combination worked best for me. When I started to explore more of the spiritual realm with Reiki and energy work in combination with abdominal massage, I realized there was a whole side to my wellness that I was not only unaware of, but that I was completely ignoring.
This part of the journey was me realizing that health wasn’t just the physical, nutritional, or spiritual but that it also encompassed our emotional, social, sexual, and mindful sides, which is ultimately how we founded Evolve Holistic’s 7 Self-Care Essentials. It was largely through self-discovery and working with others in my practice that I learned how each element worked together and that when one was off, the entire system was equally affected.
The collective aspect of Evolve was to recognize the value of each Self-Care Essential and to bring in experts in each area to provide education and support for all of our clients.
MD: People need holistic approaches now more than ever, what does the term “Holistic” mean for Evolve?
Jackie: Holistic is a word tossed around a lot these days and it might mean something different to everyone. For us, the term holistic speaks to the importance of gaining knowledge about ourselves in all realms of wellness, versus just one or two in isolation.
This is particularly important in today’s world with the constant bombardment and pressure of social media regarding “ideal” labels of health.
The shared goal of Evolve Holistic is to help people explore all realms of wellness to not only broaden their knowledge and capabilities, but to learn what tools work best for them. Some people exist solely in one realm- gym movement, for example- simply because they don’t know what other tools could add to their life or better suit their personal needs.
The word Evolve is one we discussed when I founded the collective which speaks to a constant state of change: The concept is to continue to do so holistically, paying attention to all aspects of wellness.
MD: Part of our partnership with you is to deliver a Movement, Nutrition, and Intuition retreat (which we're very excited about), though Evolve offers a wide variety of other ones. What initially inspired the thought process towards these immersive workshops and retreats versus simply providing one-on-one work?
Jackie: Many of my greatest lessons have come from retreats. I learned over the years that until you can experience something for yourself, your learning won't be whole. A lot of my personal breakthroughs occurred within some of the retreats that I took as part of my ongoing education.
One of the biggest lessons I had was through a silent meditation retreat that I was going through as part of my teacher training. The first thing asked of us by our instructor was for each of us to allow ourselves to truly experience the retreat as a student versus considering it solely as a necessary part of our training within the program (which it was). When you allow yourself to be completely immersed in an experience, only then can you truly reap the benefits.
When people hear the word retreat, most picture escaping something. While yes we’re retreating from our typical daily environment, what we’re really doing is intentionally retreating inwards to immerse ourselves into a state where the sole focus and responsibility is yourself. When you’re in an immersive environment without standard daily stressors, you’re more receptive to new information and can get a much better sense of what works for your body and what doesn’t.
The focus of the retreats is experiential because books, articles, courses, etc. are all great resources, but the learning doesn’t fully take hold until you can experience something for yourself.
By creating retreats, we’re providing the environment and opportunity for people to retreat inwards to start asking themselves the right questions and acquiring the appropriate tools to make long lasting health changes.
MD: What would you say is your biggest change in approach over the course of the last five years of your career?
Jackie: The biggest thing for me was me stepping away from the role of facilitator and instead becoming more of a teacher and partner for the wellbeing of my clients.
I found that people were consistently coming back to me with the same issues without any forward progress asking me to “fix” them. It was becoming draining and frustrating so I stepped back and realized that I’d created a situation where I had become a facilitator caring more about their wellbeing than they did at times. When I identified that, I switched the narrative and started asking clients to meet me halfway, taking away the pressure of me somehow providing a magic pill. I had to let go of the sense of guilt that I couldn’t help people who didn’t want to put in daily practices.
We all have so much power within ourselves to know what we need to do and it is fun to learn how to reconnect, take on habitual lifestyle changes, and be empowered to improve our own outcomes.
MD: What is the biggest thing you think is missing from our industry as a whole?
Jackie: The intuitive piece. I think the industry is set up in such a way that it pigeonholes everyone to operate within the parameters of a certain label with regards to movement, nutrition and otherwise: Are you paleo? Vegan? A runner? A yogi? A Crossfitter? Etc. All of the tools out there are great and all can be applied differently at different times to different humans, so why is the need for labelling so strong?
What’s missing in our industry is the intuitive piece on what we need each and every day. As fitness professionals, we need to empower people to choose tools that work for them and to give themselves permission to be intuitive with their own body’s needs versus being wrapped up in a label of one particular way of being. Our industry slaps labels on people far too much, taking away the concept of leaning on objective measures of how we feel each day.
Intuitive eating has become a more popular term but it can extend to all other areas of wellness and mindfulness and is slowly creeping its way into strength training which is great to see. What being intuitive or an being an Intuitarian means is allowing you to label yourself as Your Self and the tools you choose to encompass your lifestyle can be as broad as you like.
MD: If you could encourage clients to embrace one thing daily, and you had ten minutes to impart with them one thing, what would it be?
Jackie: I am on a mission to change people’s relationships with their abdomen.
I think it’s missing and I want to inspire people to think differently to understand what’s behind that abdominal wall. The abdomen is such an important area that ties in physiological processes such as digestive health and immune function, to intuition and emotions. There is nothing more internal and central to your being than this area of the body which impacts everything we do and feel.
Most people have a negative relationship with their abdomen and suck it in, hide it, and flatten it with tight clothes or other contraptions. Changing the dialogue of telling our tummy how shitty it is for being bloated to appreciating it for all it does starts with being empowered to understand what is happening in there.
There is so much research about the gut being our second brain but we can argue that it is actually the first: We start at the gut and everything within it influences the rest of our systems.