This week, we caught up with ELLE Magazine’s fitness writer, BoomCycle instructor, motivational speaker and blogger Bangs & a Bun to chat all things fitness, career and inspiration.
Talk us through where your nick name ‘Bangs’ came from and how has it stuck?
‘Bangs’ is what they call a fringe in North America. I was living in Japan about 10 years ago and my roommate was Canadian. During the insanely hot and humid Tokyo summer, I would throw my hair up into a bun, leaving my ‘bangs’ out. My roommate would always say when I wore my ‘Bangs and a Bun’ I looked like I really meant business! A couple of years later, I started my blog and ‘Bangs & a Bun’ just seemed like the perfect name. People just started calling me Bangs because my actual name is Irish and most people can’t pronounce it. I much prefer for people to call me Bangs than to butcher my real name!
What are some of your favourite pastimes?
I have an adorable Boston Terrier called Stringer Bell. I spend pretty much all my time with him and love exploring my West London area with him. I love going to the cinema by myself (nobody asking me questions about plot lines and more popcorn for me – perfect!). Working out, though it is my profession, is also one of my favourite past times and I really enjoy going out to dinner with friends.
As contributing fitness editor of ELLE, what does your daily routine look like?
As well as contributing to ELLE, I also run two blogs, am a spin instructor at BOOM Cycle and have a podcast. Most days, my day will kick off with some sort of workout, be it teaching spin, going for a run or some sort quickie at home sweat session. I’ll then walk my dog, have breakfast and check my emails for the day. Then most days either consist of research (new workouts, new studios to try etc), meetings with PRs or brands, writing new posts, then if I’m not teaching spin in the evening, I’m usually reading or listening to podcasts.
Spinning is becoming increasingly popular, do you have any top tips for new spinners?
Be sure to arrive early for your first session and get the instructor to set your bike up properly for you. Most people will always ride with their saddle too low unless they’re shown how to set their bike up. A low saddle will make for a really uncomfortable ride as you’ll be really quad-heavy, rather than working through the whole leg.
Try to always keep your weight central, over the saddle, that way you’re engaging your core and involving your whole body more. You should never be leaning all your weight on the handlebars.
In terms of resistance, the beauty of spin is that it’s done to some awesome loud and funky beats. A good way to gauge if you have your resistance too heavy is if you can keep in time with the music. If your legs are spinning wildly, way faster than the beat, you should turn the resistance up a bit. Or if your resistance is so heavy it feels like you’re pedalling through concrete and you can’t keep up with the beat of the music, you’ve got it too heavy and should turn it down a touch.
The most important thing to remember is that it’s your ride – you’re only going to get out of it what you put in. It often takes a few sessions to figure out the resistance properly.
Oooh and finally, if the studio you go to offers spin shoes for rental, always get the spin shoes – makes for a way more comfortable ride than using trainers!
Do you have any particular favourite fitness classes outside of the UK?
I was in New York recently and did a bunch of workouts at various studios and my favourite was Tone House NYC. It’s without a doubt the toughest workout I’ve ever done (NFL players are known to train there in the off season), but my endorphin level was off the charts by the end of it! Sure, I wanted to cry, puke and get a hug from my mum at various point during it, but felt like a total champion when it was over.
What can’t you work out without?!
Good hair bobbles! I have waist-length hair and when I work out I need it tied up tight and out of the way. I need bobbles that don’t come loose when I’m whipping my hair around. Nothing irritates me more than having to adjust my hair part-way through a session!
List 5 of your favourite snacks to fuel up on:
Cashew nuts, bananas, broccoli, quinoa and…popcorn (I can’t help it, I’m addicted!)
Do you have a life motto?
‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence therefore, is not an act, but a habit.’ – Aristotle
What has been your most challenging and most successful moments of 2015?
I ran the London Marathon this year and I’d say that was definitely challenging, despite the fact that I had an absolute blast doing it. I don’t see anyway around it, once you’re past the 18 mile mark in a marathon, if boredom isn’t making you want to throw yourself on the pavement and throw a hissy fit, you’re a better human than me. My challenge in the marathon was to not do that! Thankfully I didn’t and I finished with a giant grin on my face. I’d say that doubles as my most successful moment too!
Although 2015 isn’t quite over, do you have any plans for 2016?
I’m planning to trek Machu Picchu in Peru in 2016, which has been a dream of mine for years, so I’m so excited. Goals wise, physically, I really want to work on my strength and 2016 will also be the year I finally become qualified as a Pilates instructor (which has been a long time coming!)
Who is your biggest fitness inspiration?
I usually run at 5am and quite honestly, anyone else I see out pounding the pavement at that time really inspires me. New runners also massively inspire me because I remember that part of my journey and how hard it is to just keep going, keep lacing your trainers up, quieting that voice that’s constantly telling you that you can’t. My riders who come to my classes at BOOM Cycle really inspire me too – seeing people really push themselves and helping them reach that place makes my soul feel good.
You run your own blog, create podcasts, write for ELLE magazine, and teach classes at BoomCycle – how and what do you do to keep motivated?
The thread that runs through everything I do is helping people push themselves to be the best they can be, channel their inner badass and get in tune with what makes them happy. I put myself out there, I share my journey and my struggles and I think being in the position to help others reach their breakthrough moment is really all the motivation I need. Do I have days where I don’t feel 100%? Where I don’t want to do it? Of course, I’m human! I’ve had phases in my life where I let myself wallow and feel sorry for myself and unsurprisingly, I didn’t get any further ahead in those moments. What I learned to do was just bring the very best of myself to every day, whatever form that may take. You can’t scale Everest every day, but you can take a few steps. Keeping that in mind helps me stay motivated.
Words by Rachel Harrison