La Holista is ‘on a mission to help people live a healthier happier life’, but if you’re expecting more of the jade eggs and ill-defined ‘mindfulness’ that have come to typify the mass wellness industry then think again.
Drop by La Holista HQ in Thao Dien and there’s not a Tibetan singing bowl in sight – instead what you find is a bustling kitchen and a strong sense of purpose. That has a lot to do with the personalities and outlook of the dynamic duo running the show. La Holista was founded by health coach, yoga teacher, functional medicine practitioner and vegan nutritionist Chiara Squinzi and is managed by executive and NLP coach Pascale Fioretti. They make a perfect pairing of opposites, Chiara is a ball of black-eyed bounciness (“I am more creative and extrovert”) while Pascale is the calm presiding presence (“she is more disciplined and introvert”). Together they run a company that runs hikes, educates, coaches people, encourages healthy living in schools and above all cooks: it’s no accident that the business is literally built around the kitchen.
“When I set up the company in 2016 the idea was that I was only doing nutrition consulting,” explains Chiara. “It was about transitioning to a more plant-based diet but ironically I found I was losing clients because if you’re good and your clients get healthy they don’t need your help anymore. So I first started to write a recipe book and published it (you can find it here). I was testing recipes on friends and starting to develop the things I couldn’t find myself – snacks, kombucha, cashew cheese, etc.” Which is how the kitchen started. As a marathoner Chiara was also having to go to bike shops to get energy gels for endurance sports, and felt there had to be a better answer. Which is how the famous La Holista energy and protein sports balls came into being.
“When I arrived there wasn’t a snack that was made with wholesome ingredients and the energy snacks out there came with a shelf life counted in years. I wanted something that had protein, have an exact number of calories suitable for endurance and could be eaten as a quick bite.” La Holista energy balls took off, not least because they are about a third of the cost of energy gels, they’re made with good stuff including Iranian and Egyptian dates, organic Vietnamese cashews, and peanuts for protein. They can be purchased without plastic too if ordered directly and Chiara points out that the traditional packaging can be opened up and eaten one handed while you’re on the go. We’ll be testing that on the Push wall.
Hike your way to happiness
While La Holista’s activities include workshops, corporate consulting, and work with the International Schools its best-known services, at least amongst Pushpeeps, are the organised hikes. “We’ve taken about 1,300 people on the monthly hike in the last two and a half years… plus dogs.” The hikes alternate between a more gentle outing through lush vegetation (Xuan Thanh) and the hill hike up Nui Dinh near Vung Tau. “The tougher one books out the fastest as people use it as training”, observes Chiara. The hikes are probably the best example of the whole holistic approach in action. “You take it easy on Friday night and it keeps you busy on Saturday. There’s the exercise and you get to try great new food [think organic pasta with pesto] and we have seen so many friendships develop from this. People grow closer, maybe race together, and from our point of view we’ve seen a lot of people who come to the hike start as clients and become friends.”
It’s that real world, great outdoors attitude to wellness that makes Push see La Holista as a natural partner. You’ll soon see the energy balls on sale at the gym, and we’ll be joining and promoting the hikes. Find out more about the next Nui Dinh trip here.