In June, we ran our School Run Campaign which was a resounding success. Created in partnership with the UK’s four national governing bodies for athletics and running, School Run was designed to encourage as many schools, parents and families as possible to turn their journey to school into a fun, physical activity.
We caught up with Una Healy, one of the founding members of The Saturdays and a School Run ambassador, to find out about how sports have been influential in her life and why she thinks the School Run campaign was so important.
Tell us a little bit about you.
Una: I’m a singer/songwriter, and I write my own music. I used to be in a girl band called The Saturdays, but recently I released my debut album, with five singles in the last year. I’ve been into music since I was 12 years old when I started playing the guitar. Before that, though, my big passion was swimming. When I was 9, I was the all Ireland champion, so that’s where my sporty side comes into play. Then I sort of swapped the swimming for singing.
How did you get started in sport?
Una: Through swimming. At first, I swam just to enjoy it. Then, I got involved in a club and started to do lots of galas when I caught a real hunger for it. I’ve got quite a competitive streak, so I trained really hard and tried to do my best in every competition. My parents were great to encourage me and take me to the galas. They took me to training, so that really helped out as well. I made great friends through swimming — some I’m still friends with today which is really nice — so it’s so important as part of your upbringing to get involved in sport.
What is your training like? On a day to day basis, if you were doing nothing in a week would you run or would you go to the gym?
Una: I’m such an active person; I’m always on the go. I don’t like to sit down for very long. But I do like to go to the gym. I try and go about 3 days a week. I do a mix of swimming and using the gym facilities too, so sometimes I’ll do about 10 minutes on each of the different machines and some stretches for toning.
Do you do classes?
Una: Yes I do... I love aerobics classes. I really enjoy the dance classes - more the cardio ones than the body pump ones. I like to learn a routine with all the music. I actually love spinning as well; I really enjoy that because I feel like I’m in a club when I’m actually doing something good, which is great.
Can you give us an idea of what your diet is like?
Una: I have quite a balanced diet — I try and eat as healthily as I can. I’ve got a bit of a savoury tooth so don’t have too many sweet things. I do all the food shopping, so I’ll go through and makes sure all the greens and vegetables are there first in each meal and then add proteins - meat and fish. I try and balance it throughout the week as well so it’s not same-y every day.
What music do you train to?
Una: Whatever’s on, I suppose; a lot of dance music and anything that keeps the beat going and keeps you motivated. I normally put shuffle on and listen to any suitable workout playlist. I’m not too particular, but I don’t want it to be boring.
What's your favourite gym exercise?
Una: I definitely see the benefits of doing my floor exercises when it comes to toning and abs, stuff like that. So squats, lunges and sit-ups — you can see the difference with those when you work hard with them.
Least favourite gym exercise?
Una: Running on the treadmill. I only do 10 minutes because I find when I do 20 I get a bit bored. So I would say that’s my least favourite.
What is your favourite kit to train in/gym must have?
Una: Leggings, like these leggings [points to leggings] — I love these. I love that gym gear has become a part of fashion, so even if you’re not going to the gym it’s still really cool to wear it. Especially when you’re travelling as well; I like to wear gym gear at the airport because you look quite cool in your leggings. It’s comfortable, practical and looks cool. I love how fashionable sportswear has become — you can wear it all the time.
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far? Personal and professional?
Una: Personally, definitely my children. I’m so proud to have a person you can look at every day and be like “I made you!”. Bit cheesy! My achievement when it comes to sport was winning my all Ireland medals when I was 9 and then also winning two national song contests before I was in The Saturdays. Then, just being in The Saturdays and now going back out solo again, continuing to follow my passion. There are lows as well as highs, but it’s all about hard work and determination, and that’s why you’ve got to keep yourself going and stay motivated.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Una: Never give up, keep following your dreams and believe in yourself as well! In my world of music, it’s so hard, it really is, and so my advice is that you have to be prepared for a lot of setbacks. You’ll knock on doors and you’ll get doors slammed in your face but keep believing in yourself and follow your dreams and you’ll get there.