#MyBlogLife: We Talk All Things Fitness With Ann-Marie Brennan AKA Dancing Vegan Yogi

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Name: Ann-Marie Brennan

Age: 28

Where I live: Templeogue, Dublin

What I do: Yoga, Pilates & Egyptian Dance Instructor

Instagram: @dancing_vegan_yogi 

When she’s not teaching at Platinum Pilates, training in ballet or practicing yoga, she’s showing her flare as an Egyptian folkloric dancer or whipping up some tasty vegan eats.

We caught up with Ann-Marie Brennan to find out about her Insta-life as a @dancing_vegan_yogi… and where she finally learnt to do the perfect ballet bun.

You have a huge background in dance. How long have you been training for?

I first started my ballet and jazz dance training 14 years ago, and eventually went on to full-time training at Cambridge Performing Arts School. Even now that I’m back in Dublin and working professionally as a dance instructor, I still continue to train with the Karen Wignall School of Ballet.

You do all kinds – yoga, pilates, ballet, Egyptian dance. What’s your favourite and why?

It’s really hard to pick a favourite. I fell in love with yoga and Pilates when I was recovering from an injury in 2010. The two disciplines combined made me stronger, more flexible and more in tune with my body than I ever had been before, and I’ve been injury-free ever since.

Egyptian Dancing is something totally different, but I love what an innovative style of dance it is. Each region of Egypt has its own folkloric dance, music and traditional costume which means lots of exciting choreographies and incredible outfits.

Tell us a bit about how you got into Egyptian Dance?

I traveled to Egypt in 2011 to perform with a dance company. On my first night off I went to watch a folklore show, and I couldn’t take my eyes off the stage. I was immediately hooked and just wanted to learn everything there was to know! I’m not one to do things by halves, so I joined a folklore-only dance troupe and relocated to the Egyptian coastal town of Nuweiba. The company rehearsed and performed six days a week and it was there that I began to train as a Tanoura dancer.

Between teaching and training, your schedule is pretty full. What’s a typical week like for you?

Well, I do some form of dance or exercise every day, be it training, teaching or preparing for classes. I practice ballet three days a week at Dance Theatre of Ireland in Dun Laoghaire. I also do an aerial dance training session one day a week in Sandyford, and I practice yoga and foam rolling at home almost daily. As for Pilates, I train and teach two to three times a week. That’s all on top of any Egyptian dance rehearsals, which can be non-stop if there’s a show coming up. Even when I don’t have a show on the horizon, I’ll still practice Egyptian dance once or twice a week so my body won’t be shocked after a long break.

How do you manage to stay on top of things?!

I can fit everything in as long as I have nine hours of sleep a night and a daily smoothie or juice blast, which I whip up in my NutriBullet.

We love your vegan recipes and pictures on Instagram! How long have you been following a plant-based diet?

I became vegan when I returned from Egypt in 2013. I had been a vegetarian for seven years by this time so the transition was easy. Some people worry that going plant-based will affect your endurance or performance, but I’m proof that the opposite is true. It’s only ever served to enhance my abilities.

What’s your favourite place to get vegan eats in Dublin?

Umi Falafel on Dame Street is my go-to. I absolutely love Middle Eastern food. Try their Palestinian falafel, batata hara and a minted lemonade. Heaven!

What’s a day in your life like at the moment?

My days are never the same which I really love. Today I had a  90-minute aerial silks class in the morning, with a tough conditioning session before even using the silks. Then I headed up the Dublin mountains for a walk with my mum who is preparing for her first stretch of the Camino de Santiago. In the evening I taught three Reformer Pilates classes at Platinum Pilates and I stayed afterwards to have a training session with some of the team.

Who are three Instagrammers you’d recommend we follow ASAP?

@blogilates: Cassey Ho is the reason I’ve finally nailed my ballet bun.

@mistyonpointe: An incredible principal ballet dancer with the American Ballet Theatre.

@veganfoodspot: Raw Salted Caramel Slices… enough said.

What advice would you give someone who’s trying dancing, yoga or Pilates for the first time?

Firstly, don’t go shelling out membership fees or committing to anything right away. Be patient, take drop-in classes until you find what works, and know what you want to get out of the class before you go. There is no point showing up to a restorative yoga class full of energy and prepared for a an intense movement session to end up doing gentle stretching and some breathing exercises. It’s all a learning curve.

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