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Here to help . . . Laura Antonello is opening a "wellness hub" in Kurow, offering Pilates group classes and one-on-one rehabilitation, herbal medicines and an infrared sauna. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

A post-Covid shift in how people look after themselves has presented the perfect opportunity for Kurow newcomer Laura Antonello to share her expertise by way of a “wellness hub”.

“Because of what’s happened within the world, a lot of people are finding that being quiet and being still and taking control of their well-being has been a major priority and a big shift in their lives,” Miss Antonello said.

“Whereas once before, they were really quick to sort of push it aside, because they’ve been able to be busy.”

Miss Antonello and her Kiwi partner, Matt Lyng, have moved to his hometown with their two children, Owen (3) and Mae (16 months). The couple met in Australia, where she grew up, but they knew eventually they would like to raise their children in New Zealand.

“Covid happened, and drew us over to New Zealand a bit more . . . that was sort of that gentle but forceful push to be here.”

Initially, Miss Antonello had a corporate job lined up in Christchurch.

“Then my lovely mother-in-law gave me that gentle push of saying, ‘hey, this is what this town needs, a bit of a wellness hub’.”

So, Wai Wellness was created.

Miss Antonello offered Pilates classes in a group setting, as well as one-on-one.

Her background was in clinical Pilates, “so a lot of rehabilitation, and a lot of rehabilitation in the way of post-partum as well”.

Herbal medicines were a point of difference she added to the wellness mix.

A “huge turn of events” earlier in life led Miss Antonello to Bali, where she studied yoga, and ended up living and working there.

“From there, I became very interested in herbal medicine. I’ve always sort of dabbled in it.

“My Dad was quite sick with cancer growing up, so he ended up with Chinese medicine, which then sparked my interest . . . then being in Bali, surrounded in this real authentic, holistic way of living, I dove into it a little bit more with Ayurveda, which is the ancient Indian way of medicine.”

From there, she moved to Portugal to further her knowledge of “folklore herbalism”.

“That’s where I sort of dove into the herbal medicine, and that’s just sort of continued on by doing consultations, and having my own herbal tea brand and things like that.”

All Miss Antonello’s one-on-one Pilates clients were offered herbal teas to support them in their healing journey, she said.

“I’m finding a lot of people, where their injuries lie, stems from a bit more a spiritual/mental health side of things. So, why are you feeling these things, why is your neck getting a bit sore . . . and with my interest and passion with herbal medicine, I have found I am able to support those who come to me.”

Wai Wellness opens on Monday , next door to Kurow’s River Cafe, and Miss Antonello was excited about the positive feedback she had received from the rural community.

“Which has made it so much easier to be open with my offerings, so to speak.

“A lot of people have said been waiting for someone like you to come to town’, and that has just made me feel so excited.

“I’m sure there’s a few people out there who have [thought], this overly-excited Australian girl?’, but that’s just who I am, and I can’t change that.”

On top of the Pilates and herbs, Miss Antonello will offer guided meditations, and there was also an infrared sauna.

“Most of my classes will end in slight mindfulness meditation, where I always connect with the breath and do a bit of a body scan, and set intentions for today, and all that. Part of that is my coping, and how I cope with things in the world.”

For those wanting to dabble in their own herbal treatments, Miss Antonello’s top recommendations were chamomile, lemon balm and calendula.

“Chamomile is the most convenient type of herb you can get, but the most powerful. It’s an anti-inflammatory, it calms the nervous system.

“Another big one as well is lemon balm. You know the phrase ‘sick to your stomach’? Lemon balm just really untangles that.”

She thought everyone should have calendula (or marigold) in their kitchen.

“Putting it in salads, in cooking, in broths is really good. It’s a blood tonic, it helps clean out any sort of bacteria or virals in the system.

“So I think those three are my definite go-tos, and they’re the nicest tasting ones.”