Name: Barry O’Neill
Occupation: Owner of Bonco Wellness/yoga instructor/student
WHEN my children, Sienna (5) and Ralph (3), are in school, I’m usually up around 6am when my wife, Gemma, goes to work. One of the first things I like to do is get into an ice bath.
Recently I did a workshop called Wim Hof Method. It’s a breathing technique, designed towards controlling your emotions, learning to control your breath. It calms the nervous system down. The whole idea is that if you can learn to control your breathing, getting into the ice shouldn’t be a problem then.
I have the ice bath outside the back door, so it will be interesting to see if I continue it into December and January when it gets really cold outside!
I set up my own yoga studio in Claremorris called Bonco Wellness back in 2013. With that line of work it means my hours during the day are spent on content creating, improving existing programmes and of course being Daddy Day Care until my wife comes home. Then I head into my studio in the evening time and teach hot yoga.
I’m a qualified refrigeration engineer, and before becoming a yoga instructor I worked with my dad in the family business. I went from one extreme to another, building fridges and industrial freezers to working in a yoga studio in 43 degrees heat. I began doing yoga after I ruptured my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in my right knee in a skiing accident in 2008. I was living in Galway at the time and I heard hot yoga was good for injury recovery. Once I got into it I found it mighty for my whole body, not just my knee. After I moved home to Claremorris I kept traveling to Galway for the classes, until the travel got too much.
Then in 2013 I decided to do an intensive three-week yoga instructor course in Brighton after doing six months with Yoga Therapy Ireland previously.
Not long after that I decided to do it full-time and took out a loan from the Credit Union to help build my own studio in Claremorris. It was nerve-wracking at the time because I had a child on the way and I didn’t know how it would go. I also had to break the news to my dad that I wanted to pursue this and not take over the family business.
Before that I was working during the day and then teaching yoga three times a week in the evening. Something had to give, so I gave up the day job and went full time with Bonco Wellness and it worked out brilliantly for us.
A lot of the local people thought yoga is all airy fairy stuff. But after trying it they really enjoyed the classes. Although, at first, the yoga resembled line dancing classes with people bouncing off each other, in and out of postures at the back of the room. But I grew a good base of clients early on that have stuck with me.
Four months after opening in Claremorris I introduced hot yoga classes to Castlebar in a room at Castle Leisure. From there I managed to build my own purpose-built hot yoga studio in Castlebar too.
I always like to challenge myself, particularly physically while I can. Right now I feel I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been, and a lot of that is because of yoga.
I’m a big fan of gymnastics, body movement, practicing handstands and Brazilian Ji Jitsu. I set up a BJJ club in Claremorris last year. It never really took off so it’s on hold now, but hoping to relaunch it in October.
Nutrition is always a huge part of my life and has got me to where I am. I have a list in my phone of about 12 foods that I eat. It’s boring and it’s simple, but you train better when you fuel better.
I’m fairly relaxed and don’t stress too much. I do like meditation and I try and do about ten minutes every day. It’s a discipline thing for me really because I actually find it quite difficult, but it calms the nervous system down a small bit and helps you get your mind off things.
However, I’m not a monk either. One of my mates describe me as Bonco Wellness Monday to Friday, because I do like to have a few pints of Guinness at the weekends!
I’m hoping to grow the online side of my business into the future and just continue to be better at more body movements, gymnastics and different variations of handstands. For anyone interested in following what I do, my Instagram is @_bonco_ and Facebook is Bonco Wellness.
In conversation with Ger Flanagan
Tell us something about yourself we don’t know?
This is probably a bit deep and I’ve never really shared this, but I think it’s an important message as there are so many people struggling with mental health issues at present. I went through a rough patch in September 2018 and attended a counsellor for help in dealing with ongoing grief issues from the loss of my mother in 2011. It’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of and I would strongly recommend anyone that is struggling with their mental health to seek help and share their problems. It’s very easy to look from a distance and assume an individual is healthy and happy when the reality is you have no idea what another person might be struggling with in their lives at any given moment. Stay healthy. Be happy.
Favorite place in the world?
Keem Beach on a sunny day. Bliss.
What do you miss most about being a child?
Having my mother around.
Best advice given?
If you make life easy, life will be hard. But if you make life hard, life will be easy.
What makes you nervous?
Not so much nervous, but my family is the most important thing to me so I think subconsciously I am always thinking about their happiness and well-being.
Name three things always in your fridge?
Turkey burgers, eggs, avocado.
Most unusual thing you ever ate?
I’m not very adventurous when it comes to food so it was probably just some funny type of meat while on safari in South Africa. Although I think it was only billtong.
Most prized possession?
I’m not very materialistic, I like a simple life. But the most used possession I own would have to be my Nespresso coffee machine. I like my coffee.
If money was no object what would you do?
Lots of traveling and lots of home improvements.