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Me and my health: Choreographer Eileen McClory on her lifestyle


On stage: choreographer and dancer Eileen McClory

On stage: choreographer and dancer Eileen McClory

@Press Eye/Darren Kidd

On stage: choreographer and dancer Eileen McClory

Belfast dance artist and choreographer Eileen McClory (37) is artist in residence at the Belfast International Arts Festival, which runs until November 1. She is married to Gil (38) and they have a four-month-old daughter, Ayala.

Q: Do you take regular exercise and if so, what?

A: As a choreographer you are not as active in the room as the dancers so I would have to do other things to keep my fitness up, like yoga, swimming and walking. But it's changed since having Ayala. I had her in June and I was about six months' pregnant when lockdown happened. I had really bad pelvic pain and the only exercise I could do was go walking - even yoga and Pilates aggravated it. After having Ayala I felt like I'd been hit by a bus. So a few weeks ago, through Sure Start, I joined this brilliant class called Pramtastics. I love it now - we run up the hills, we do lots of squats, it's my lifeline.

Q: What is the worst illness you've had?

A: I haven't really had any illnesses, but I've had injuries. I went to New York to start a training programme and within three months of starting dancing I'd broken my foot. Part of the healing process was to start Pilates and that is how I developed my passion for Pilates and trained as a Pilates teacher.

Q: How healthy is your diet?

A: Before I got pregnant my diet was very healthy. When I got pregnant, all I wanted was to eat bread and cheese and tender-stemmed broccoli.

Q: Any bad habits?

A: I love chips. I never would have been a massive sweet eater but when I was pregnant I craved giant chocolate buttons. Now I'm trying to wean myself off them.

Q: Do you drink and smoke and if so, how much?

A: I would drink socially. I think for a while when I was in my 20s I probably drank a bit too much - I partied too much when I lived in New York. I really cut down about two years ago, mainly because I was getting married and I realised the drink was excess calories. I did smoke but stopped that a few years ago now.

Q: Do you take any supplements?

A: I'd been taking pregnancy supplements and then breastfeeding supplements. I have a very good diet full of vegetables and good meats which I hope is enough, although I still take Vitamin D because we don't get enough sun over here.

Q: How do you take time out?

A: Time out is spent chilling and watching Netflix. I am obsessed with Schitt's Creek - it makes me so happy. I like going for walks with my husband and Ayala and the dog - my husband got me a dog for a wedding present. It's a nice way to spend some time with Gil as he's really busy at work.

Q: How well do you sleep?

A: Before I got pregnant, really badly - I am such a light sleeper. After getting pregnant I slept much better, but now that I have had the baby, when she's asleep I am waking up again.

Q: Do you worry about getting old?

A: Oh yes. You feel it in your body - you don't feel as bouncy anymore and things that were easy get harder to do. My mum has really bad arthritis so I hope I don't get that - to see someone in so much pain when they want to be active is hard. I hope I just keep an agile body.

Q: What is your go-to product that keeps you feeling healthy?

A: As many vegetables as possible. I try to get my husband to eat more veg by putting more and more on his plate. Also, fruit and a little bit of chocolate.

Eileen McClory is founder of the dance theatre company Off the Rails. As the Belfast International Arts Festival artist in residence, her work, BRINK, produced by Maiden Voyage Dance, is available to watch in a compilation film with other major performance works from NI on the Belfast International Arts Festival YouTube channel

Belfast Telegraph