Greg O’Shea on his new fitness app and why ‘you need to fill your own glass first’
Just after launching his own fitness app – Bettr with Greg – we sat down with Irish rugby star Greg O’Shea to talk all things wellness.
2022 is now upon us, what does a new year represent to you?
You always hear this “new year, new me” thing which I feel puts a lot of pressure on people, and I actually did an Instagram post about this specifically. I think there’s a lot of pressure around the whole reinventing yourself in the new year, and becoming a new you. Sometimes people are doing things just good enough and they don’t need to reinvent the wheel and they don’t need to change things.
But then, a new year does also represent an opportunity to change things and to leave things in the past if something negative has happened to you, or you just kind of need a kick up the arse to do something different. So, I kind of take a mixture of the two. A couple of bad things happened to me at the end of 2021 and I’m kind of leaving them there. But besides that, I’m happy with the way I’m going in life at the moment and the effort I’m putting in and how things are happening.
So it’s a new year, but it’s the same me and the same processes!
Goal setting is a real new year buzzword… anything you have your sights set on achieving this year?
It is a real buzzword to be fair, but I always kind of have goals set out regardless of the time of year. So, I don’t sit down on the 1st of January and set out goals for the next 12 months, I always have long term goals that I’m chasing. But for this year, in particular, there’s the new app – a fitness app called Bettr with Greg – that I just launched so I’m excited about that.
After I retired from rugby after competing in the Olympics in 2021 in Tokyo, I was kind of lost about what I was going to do as a passion because rugby was my passion and now it’s gone. So, how was I going to fill that void? I absolutely love fitness and working out and helping people get better. I kind of did a bit during lockdown where I posted stuff on YouTube and people seemed to benefit from it which really gave me a buzz. I launched Bettr with Greg around that mindset of just getting a little bit better each day – not trying to reach this elite level of being fit and healthy, not setting that ridiculous bar, just getting a little bit better each day. So, I’m really looking forward to getting that out there and helping people.
Other than that I’m really enjoying working with brands at the moment… just continuing to put out positive content and working with brands that align with what I value in life. Those are the goals I’m setting this year. Oh, and to get travelling! I love to travel, so I would love to see more of the world this year.
The new year is also always associated with resolutions and change – what will you be bringing with you/keeping the same in 2022?
I do think there’s way too much pressure for people to make resolutions and change things and reinvent themselves. As I said, sometimes people are doing things good enough and their lives are good and they don’t need to change anything. Stop putting unnecessary pressure on yourself to be different when what you’re doing is good enough!
My mantra – and probably my only resolution for this year – is to do things that make me happy and only things that make me happy. Why would I bother trying to do things that don’t make me happy? It really only hit me in the last couple of months that I don’t need to do this if I don’t want to. So, do things that make me happy and surround myself with people that make me happy. Stop trying to please people. You need to please yourself first and fill your own glass before you can fill anyone else’s so that’s what I’m bringing with me into 2022. Other than that, just have fun!
Everyone got *really* into walking during lockdown, but is there anything else you like to do when you need some downtime?
I got into the walking as well with my family. I went back to my family house during lockdown and we went on loads of different walks. I also really enjoy going to the sauna, funnily enough. That’s probably a weird one but I love just sitting in the sauna by myself – in the heat, it really just relaxes me and allows me to clear my thoughts. I really enjoy that.
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I’ve also gotten into reading a bit more recently – and along with reading, listening to Audible. So, I’m kind of looking into, not self-help books, but like Jay Shetty’s book and Matthew McConaughey’s book and people like that, who kind of use their stories and lessons and tell them anecdotally. I’m really enjoying reading them and that really relaxes me in the evenings.
Lots of people watch Love Island as a way to switch off, what series/movies do you turn to to do the same?
Funnily enough, I am actually a huge fan of Love Island and I always was, even before I was on the show. The year I really got into it was Chris and Kem’s year and Olivia and all those – I think Dr Alex was on it that year as well? I used to watch Love Island to switch off like everyone else but then when I went on the show and I found out the ins and outs of it and everything that’s happened off the back of the show – I’ve had so much positivity but a lot of negativity as well – so I don’t really use it as a switch off anymore.
I’m not too big into series, but I do love documentaries. I absolutely get obsessed with documentaries. There’s one recently that I got through, it’s called Bad Sport on Netflix and I found it really good. Obviously, the Michael Jordan one, The Last Dance, that was incredible. Last Chance U… all documentaries like that, especially in the sporting context, are just like right up my alley. I love that kind of stuff.
What’s the craziest wellness trend you’ve tried and would you recommend it?
A wellness trend I’ve tried comes from a guy called Wim Hof. He’s a Dutchman and he’s basically famous for being able to tap into his adrenal gland and he did it by immersing himself in cold water. So, I’ve kind of taken that idea and I’ve started having cold showers.
Well, that sounds very hardcore – what I mean is… after my long, hot shower, for the last like 30 seconds or one minute, I turn it to freezing cold and stand under it. It just really helps with blood flow.
Not only does it have physical benefits but, mentally – I don’t know the ins and outs of it – but it really kind of shocks your nervous system and makes you feel good. Even though it’s freezing, I’ve absolutely loved it and I would recommend it.
But build up to it! So, maybe 10 seconds at the start, then 20 seconds, all the way up to one to two minutes’ of cold water after your hot shower and then maybe just a straight cold shower. I’ve also done a lot of sea swimming which is kind of the same concept but I do struggle with the cold so I don’t end up staying in for too long.
Must-have items to bring some hygge into your home?
I’m not too overly pushed on things I have to have to be cosy. I just really like a clean setting – a clean, tidy setting. To be fair, I recently bought myself a nice, big mattress topper for my bed, so maybe that’s something that I did want that was really cosy. That’s really changed my sleeping and has made me much more comfortable in bed. I definitely wouldn’t be able to sleep without one now! And also my Dyson purifier because that just cleans the air and helps me breathe better.
Someone who’s doing it right and why:
Straight away who comes to mind is Rozanna Purcell.
Her page is just so wholesome and genuine and fresh. She does a lot of hikes and she always just posts up the best hikes and the best recipes – just really good wellness stuff, positive content. I think she’s really nailed it on the head for outdoor, wellness and taking care of yourself content. It’s really relatable. You don’t need to be going to a gym, you don’t need to be buying these memberships and doing all these fads. She makes it very accessible and I love that she’s Irish as well.
Favourite track (or album) to wind down to?
To be honest, I have such a variety of music. Honestly, anything from Westlife to Drake to Zac Brown Band could come up on my music playlist. I don’t particularly have a favourite track off the top of my head.
I came across an artist yesterday that specialises in lofi house, his name is Madcat. He’s French and I just listened to basically all his songs yesterday and I loved it. It was very relaxing… so anything by Madcat!
As for an album that was released in the last couple of months, Justin Bieber. Any song off his latest album, I just love every single one of them and I am low-key in love with his wife Hailey Bieber!
I have a four or five-step skincare routine that my dermatologist has given me because I’ve had severe acne in the past. I have quite a few scars that I’m trying to get rid of, so I do that to kind of encourage my skin to heal. And then I try to read at least 10 pages before going to sleep. At the moment I’m reading Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence book.
Favourite Irish wellness brands/products:
There are two that I’ve really gotten into recently. One is a company called The Head Plan. They just make the best diaries for productivity and gratitude and scheduling and all that stuff. It’s an Irish brand and it’s incredible. I bought a couple of them at Christmas for my mates and I got one for myself too, which I’m using right now. So that’s really good for just setting yourself up and having everything written down and just keeping you on track, keeping you grateful.
Another one is Spoonful Botanical and it’s a lovely Irish couple that has put together this unbelievable jar of goodness. There’s turmeric in it, there’s ginger, there’s cinnamon… loads of different really good things for you in it, all in a kind of jam. And you can literally put it in anything – in your porridge, on your toast, you can eat it on its own. It’s a really nice Irish wellness product.
And of course, then Kinetica, who cover everything sports and nutrition. I’ve been using them for years – even before I became an ambassador or anyone even knew my name from Love Island – and it helped me get all the way to the Olympics.
What do you do to “get happy” when you’re in a slump or need a boost?
This is so on point for the last two years with everyone being in lockdown and everything. If I’m really down in the dumps and struggling, and it sounds so funny, but I ring my mam. There’s just something about mothers, they just know. Sometimes I ring her and we’ll just chat normally, but if I ring her and I’ve been down, she knows immediately and will be like, ‘What’s wrong?!’. It’s so mad, but she’s always able to just snap me out of it. Or my sisters have the same power. No one else really does – none of my mates, none of my previous girlfriends had that power – but my mam and my sisters do but I’m sure that’s like anyone else with their family.
Other than that if I’m down and just want to “get happy”, I just get myself completely away from social media and I’ll go for a walk or a run to get the endorphins flowing. Exercise is a free anti-depressant and it’s incredibly effective and if you could put the benefits of exercise into a pill, you wouldn’t be able to stock it on the shelves.
Tell us about the new app:
I could talk all day about this app, but in a quick synopsis, Bettr with Greg does what it says on the tin. I want you to get better with me so the unique selling point is that you’re going to train live with me. I’m fully committed to it, I’m fully in this with you and we’re all going to get better together. That’s the whole mindset around it – getting a little bit better with every workout every day and not trying to be this unattainable fit or this unattainable health. It’s all about just comparing yourself to yourself and how you were yesterday and just getting a little bit better. Even if that’s just by 1%.
The app consists of live sessions with me – about three a week – which are a mixture of bodyweight exercise classes, HIIT classes, ab and core classes and light weights (dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands). There’s a nice variety for people. There’s also pilates, because I’m a pilates instructor by trade. My mother is going to help out a little bit too – she’s a big-time yoga instructor and she’s really, really good. She’s the motivation behind me becoming a pilates instructor actually.
There’s also direct access to me with a Q&A section so you can ask questions and I’ll get back to as many as you can. The wellness section is just a general section for overall health and wellness and getting better in every aspect of life – so like, hydration, sleep, diet, stress management, just taking time for yourself, podcasts, posts, quotes, everything like that. It’s just a really nice place to go with positive vibes. If I help one person or 10 people, I’ll be happy with that because it’s something I’m passionate about and if you do something you’re passionate about, you won’t work a day in your life.
Bettr with Greg launched just yesterday and you can subscribe to the service via the app (on ios or android), or on the website for €9.99 a month.