All-Ireland pole-dancing champion Tanya Cheung on health and fitness

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Tanya Cheung, all-Ireland pole dancing champion, from Flyaway Aerial Studio, Lisburn

Tanya Cheung, from Lisburn, is the reigning all-Ireland pole dancing champion and a former piano teacher
Gail Bell

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

I wake up at around 9-10am every day and usually spend some time on my phone, checking out my Facebook and Instagram accounts and then looking at my emails. When I've done that, I'll get up and get ready for a busy day ahead in the studio.

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

Breakfast? For breakfast I’d normally have cereal and some fruit or yoghurt. Then, there’s always some green tea to kick-start the day.

Lunch? For lunch, I usually just eat whatever I feel like on the day. I don’t spend much time at home, so I just stick to something that’s convenient.

Evening meal? Pretty much the same as above.

3. Is nutrition important to you?

I know nutrition is important, but it’s not something I worry about. I do drink water and eat fruit and veg everyday though.

4. Best meal ever?

I really love noodles and eat them a lot.

5. Do you have a guilty pleasure ?

I’ve recently taken a strong liking to eating cake – all sorts – so that is definitely my guilty pleasure.

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

No, I haven't and I’m usually quite relaxed about my diet, but there are times when I watch what I eat, especially coming up to competitions. I have been training a lot more and I know I need to fuel my body.

7. Do you take health supplements?

I’m not against supplements, but, at the same time, I don’t don’t really feel the need to take any.

8. How do you relax?

Music is my relaxation. Before I started pole dance and aerial, I was a piano teacher. I still love to play and I’m currently working towards my ALCM in piano performance.

9. Teetotal or tipple?


10. Stairs or lift?

It depends on the situation – I'll usually opt for whatever way is the quickest. I don’t have a problem with stairs if I need to take them, but also I wouldn’t go the long way just to avoid the lift.

11. Do you have a daily exercise regime?

I am pretty active but it depends how my body is feeling. My main form of exercise is pole dancing. I would also do some aerial hoop and silks for exercise and I’ve recently started to do basic gymnastics work. I train from two to five days a week and it can range from one to four hours each session.

12. Best tip for everyday fitness?

Enjoy the journey and find something you enjoy. If there’s something you want to do, then just do it. A lot of people tell me that they’d love to do pole but don’t have the confidence, strength or flexibility. The only way to get around that is build on yourself and just go for it.

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

I reckon I’d be a seven out of 10 – I’d love to be able to get through a competition routine without feeling too exhausted. It doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re carrying your entire body weight, it’s not easy.

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

I have tried reflexology and other things in the past, which were great, but I love a good sports massage.

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

School sports were happy times as I really enjoyed this aspect of school life. My favourite would have been netball and athletics during the summer.

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

At the start of January 2017, I decided to stop eating meat. I still eat a little bit of seafood, but would like to cut down on this in the future too. It was tough at first, but I do not regret it and I feel better not eating meat – mentally as well as physically.

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

Find something you love to do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life. I feel so grateful that I have my dream job – I share my passion for pole and aerial every day with women, men and children.

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

There are too many people to list; I am inspired every day by so many talented pole dancers and aerialists. It’s amazing to see what the human body is capable of – the strength and flexibility that is required is incredible.

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

I’m normally in bed for around 12, but I’m usually reading or planning for the day ahead. I get around eight hours sleep each night, which is enough for me.

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

Yes, I know how important it is to look after your own body and mind. I don’t drink or smoke, I exercise regularly and I know taking a few days' rest is just as important to let my body recover. I am surrounded by amazing people, my family, boyfriend, friends – and my Flyaway family.

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