Antrim hurler Shane McNaughton on meditating in the subway and life's next sliotar

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Antrim champion hurler and actor Shane McNaughton

Antrim senior hurler and actor Shane McNaughton is a student at the Stella Adler Professsional Actor Conservatory in New York Picture: Mal McCann
Gail Bell

1. Up and at it – what is your morning routine?

I normally get up around 6am, no matter where I am. In my line of work, it’s hard to have a routine and this is the one thing that is normally within my control. I would go to the gym or for a walk, depending on what’s on that day. I check my emails to see if I have an audition that week; more often than not, there are no emails…

2. What might you eat in a typical working day for...

Breakfast? I don’t eat breakfast – I have a coffee and get some exercise in, before I eat.

Lunch? Lunch is my first meal of the day, usually around noon, and consists of eggs and toast.

Evening meal? Dinner is normally chicken and veg.

3. Is nutrition important to you?

Yes, being sharp mentally and physically is important to me and nutrition plays a massive part in this.

4. Best meal ever?

My cousin visited New York last year and took me to Keens steak house near Times Square. I had been on a $1 pizza diet for about a month as I was a poor student. It is, hands down, the best meal I have ever had – plus, I didn’t have to pay for it.

5. Do you have a guilty pleasure?

My guilty pleasure is chocolate digestives with a cup of tea. I will eat the whole packet and smile while I do it. Winter nights were made for this.

6. Have you ever been on a diet? If so, how did it go?

No. I have quite an active lifestyle and have never needed to diet.

7. Do you take health supplements?


8. How do you relax?

My favourite way to relax is to go to the cinema and watch a film. I’ll get a large popcorn and pour a packet of Minstrels into it. The excitement of not knowing what you’re going to get is too much sometimes, though. If I am at home in Cushendall, the dog and I will head around the beach. I think, as I come and go a lot, I appreciate home a lot more now.

9. Teetotal or tipple?

I enjoy a drink at certain times of the year but I have been trying to stay away from it as much as possible. If I do go out for a night’s drinking, I will get up the next day and balance the books. I love the craic in a pub on a Sunday with the lads.

10. Stairs or lift?

I’m a young fit man and there will come a day I might have to take the lift. Until then, I’ll take the stairs.

11. Do you have a daily exercise regime?

My day would start with the gym or a walk, then I would do a good 10 minutes of meditation – sometimes on the subway in New York. It’s a great challenge to keep a quiet mind in a city as noisy and as busy as New York. Everyone is trying to be somewhere yesterday, so slowing things down is essential.

12. Best tip for everyday fitness?

Get up before the sun and make your bed. Before you leave the house, you have already had two small little wins.

13. On a scale of one to 10, how fit do you think you are and how fit would you like to be?

I think I’m an eight out of 10. I leave the remaining two on the scale for my chocolate digestives and cinema trips. They won’t be sacrificed, so I’m happy with that.

14. Have you tried, or would you try, alternative therapy?

I have benefited from massage and acupuncture in the past.

15. Were school sports happy times or do you have a memory you would rather forget?

School sports consisted of playing hurling with my mates and getting out of school. I was very happy with this. Pitch and Toss was a great pastime of mine too.

16. Did you ever have a health epiphany which made you change your lifestyle?

No. I was hoping, someday, I would have this epiphany and from that moment everything would be just how I wanted it to be. You could spend your whole life waiting for this to happen.

17. Best health/lifestyle advice you were ever given and would pass on to others?

Get up early. If you don’t like how your life is going, change it. Look in the mirror instead of out the window; never blame others for your situation. Experiment. What works for your friend might not work for you, so it’s your responsibility to find what works for you and do it until it doesn’t work anymore. Don’t be precious about it; if it doesn’t work, let it go and find out what does.

18. Who inspires you or who would you try to emulate in terms of fitness/attitude to life?

I tend to study successful people and if they are doing something I feel could work for me, I will do that. In my line of work you face rejection quite a lot, so understanding why you are doing something is important, as it’s the ‘why’ you will go back to when things get tough. My favourite piece of advice came from my father as an under-12 in a Cushendall changing room: “The most important ball is the next ball." It doesn’t matter what happens to you in life, its how you react to it that counts.

19. What time do you normally get to bed and do you get enough sleep?

I get to bed around 11 or 12. Sometimes, when I’m away, it might be later.

20. Would you say you have a healthy attitude towards your own mortality?

I try to live every day in the present. We are here and we all have an opportunity to put our mark on the world, whether that is being a parent, a leader of a country or an actor – no job is more important than the other. It’s how I live that is more important than how long I live for, personally.

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