Sport offers fun, health and fitness on wheels

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Saturday was International Women’s Day, celebrating how women have inspired change through the century.

This is the 104th year for International Women’s Day and my column this week looks at how learning a fun sport has given a large group of women confidence, a positive body image and a cool, fun way to keep fit.

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of interviewing a very inspirational all- women’s team, Portsmouth Roller Wenches.

They range in age from 21 to 43 and formed back in June 2010 when they turned what we all associate as a fun

childhood pastime into a competitive roller derby

team who are currently ranked 49th out of 250 in Europe.

This sport is far from the recreational skating that some of us may have enjoyed as children.

If you are unfamiliar with the sport it may be worth getting acquainted with it as it was shortlisted for the Olympics last time and is now regulated by the WFTDA (The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association), so it could be something we will be seeing in Brazil in 2016.

I spoke to four members of the team – ‘Brookslide’, ‘Buns of Anarchy’, ‘Wheelma Flintstone’ and ‘Up Anne Atom’ as well as their head coach Tess AKA ‘Tess of the Derby Wheels’!

Great names aren’t they? Most of these women had never skated roller derby before and a couple of

them had never even put on skates.

So they got started through joining a 12-week course called Freshmeat, where they learn basic skills to be able to skate around as well as skills and drills used in the game, or ‘scrimming’ as I now know it is called.

At the end of the 12 weeks there is a basic exam set by the WFTDA where the minimum skills of roller derby are tested and every skater in the team has to pass.

This course is ongoing and runs on a Tuesday from 8-10pm at their training ground – Highbury College, Portsmouth.

This course is run by Up Anne Atom who, at just 22, is one of the youngest team members.

She is passionate about the sport and says: ‘I know where people are coming from when they come to Freshmeat as I had never skated before and it took me ages to even stand up with skates on!’

What I really loved about talking to the team members was their healthy attitude towards their bodies, health and their fitness.

They currently train twice a week for around four hours and because roller derby requires a great deal of strength and stamina, they also do outside training focussing on cardio fitness and core training.

There is a real feeling of support and community spirit within the team and the Wenches formed a Facebook group for all the girls to share fitness and nutrition tips and to support each other.

From my point of view, it is really encouraging to see women of all shapes and sizes who are all fit and healthy for their sport.

They are very positive and realistic role models for the next generation.

Talking of the next generation, the team are very much involved in introducing children to the sport.

Plans are afoot to form a junior league and to train youngsters from the age of five all the way up until they are 18.

This will be a non-contact version of the sport and the cool outfits and speed will certainly appeal to children, as well as the interesting nicknames!

If you would like to find out more about the Wenches then visit their website – portsmouthrollerwenches.com.

Thanks to the girls I spoke to and especially to Connie Stitch Up, who organised the interview for me.

· Nikki Caputa is a health and fitness coach who works one-to-one with clients and runs her own fitness camps in Fareham where she trains groups. Nikki is also an ambassador for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and a UK Hypo-presive Method Trainer. She helps people master a fitness technique that targets the core. Visit fab-body-fitness.co.uk. Follow Nikki on Twitter @nikkifitmum1