“Evermore Interviews” is our interview series on how health, diet & fitness relate to the purpose of inspiring trendsetters, entrepreneurs and artists.
This week our founder Alessandra met with Sammy Dinneen, a professional handstand artist and one of the best and most technical handbalancers in the UK. Sammy trained at The National Centre for Circus Arts (the UK’s national circus school) for three years, specialising in handstands while also achieving a high level of skills in acrobatics and other circus disciplines. After this, Sammy travelled to the Ukraine where he worked with some of the top handbalancers in the world to perfect his art.
In one sentence, how would you describe your life’s purpose?
Being able to share my skills and knowledge with others, teach people to achieve the seemingly impossible and influence the next generation of acrobats.
When did you first become aware of it?
I started breakdancing at a young age and this sparked my interest in movement-based careers. As a teen, I took advantage of the amazing Edinburgh Fringe programme to catch a few shows – I loved what I saw and knew this was the path for me. I trained at the National Centre of Circus Arts in London and specialised in handbalancing.
How does your health contribute to keeping you on track?
Because my profession is all about being active, my health is of paramount importance and I have to keep my body at its best. I can perform up to 11 times a week so keeping healthy ensures I am always performing to the best of my ability for my audiences. I try to do two hours of handstand training a day where I work on technique, flexibility, strength and endurance. Sometimes I have to work on the acts that I perform to clean them up, make them better or even to create a whole new act. I do 30 minutes of cardio every day, either running or swimming, then I do around an hour of weight training. For me it’s good to mix up my training so that neurologically I keep learning and don’t stagnate.
How did your fitness & diet get to where they are today?
Diet is really important to me as if I eat badly it affects my overall fitness and physique. My diet is based on Paleo which means I don’t eat any processed food, wheat, grains or refined sugars. So I eat lots of meat, fruit and vegetables.
What was the toughest point in your career’s journey and how did you kick back from it?
Handstands are a challenging discipline and so, over the years, there have been many low points. Handbalancing does not progress in a straight forward pattern; one day you learn a new trick and then you may not be able to do it again for weeks or even months. It’s hard not to compare training sessions to each other but I have learnt to treat each session in its own right and to remain motivated no matter what. If you want to master this discipline then it’s important to treat it as you would walking or standing; handstands have to become an everyday activity in order to feel as natural as possible.
What was the moment in which you first realised you’re really onto something?
When I was training as a dancer I don’t think I ever pushed myself to my full degree. But when I started training as a handbalancer I wanted to put in the hours and really achieve things. Most handbalancers can just do handstands but I can dance, do acrobatics and some aerial which makes my creativity standout more as I can bring different skills into my discipline.
What’s the biggest satisfaction you get from what you do?
One of the most exciting parts of my training is that I get to perform for a living, travelling around the world, performing my art on stage to thousands of people. When people watch me perform seemingly ‘impossible’ tricks, I can feel proud of all my hard work and see the true results of my training, my strength and flexibility. It’s very rewarding to show people that I can teach them a lot of what I do if they’re willing to put the time and effort in. I love being able to pass on my knowledge and teach people everything I have learnt – there is no better feeling than watching someone succeed.
One line for: your favorite health hack
What’s most important is that I listen to my body and eat what I need when I need it. I don’t just eat for the sake of it.
One line for: your favorite productivity hack
I often run to the gym or between my clients – not only do I feel great but this acts as my day’s cardio training.
One line for: your one-phrase mantra to motivate yourself anytime
Go big or go home.
What are your future plans and the next big goals you’re going after?
With handbalancing, there is no limit to what is achievable in what I can do and I’m always pushing myself to the next level in terms of my creativity, my skill set, where I perform, who I work with and who I’m able to pass my knowledge to.
Where can our readers find you?
I teach regularly in North London and perform worldwide. Follow me on twitter @sammydinneen or Instagram @mcsammyd. Or check out www.sammydinneen.com for more information.