How do you move?
Maria: We go to Roller Skating classes every Monday at Grey Lynn community centre through a group called Hey Macarena.
When did you start this?
Ben: Earlier this year. It was actually on Maria’s birthday. She had seen videos on Tik Tok and we’d talked about doing it for months but made a spur-of-the-moment decision to actually go through with it it after we’d had dinner that night and had time to spare afterwards.
Maria: Yeah It was quite funny as we were still in our dinner clothes, Ben in his funky shirt and me in a nice dress. Everyone else was in shorts or activewear and wearing protective gear. We wonder if they thought we were there by mistake – we definitely didn’t look like we were coming to a roller skating class.
Was it something you have done before in your life?
Ben: I had never once in my life thought about rollerskating. I grew up playing rugby! That night was definitely the first time for me
Maria: It was a first for me too. I grew up in Russia so it was all about winter sports. Like most Russian kids I had ice skated on homemade rinks near where we lived but not roller skating. I’m pretty bad at sports in general so it was great to find something that was so fun the first time.
What do you like about rollarskating?
Ben: Growing up playing rugby it was always run faster, be stronger. This was the first time I’d done any form of fun self-expression. And I loved the way it was a skill you could actually feel yourself improving so quickly.
Maria: I liked it immediately because it was a bit of stretching a bit of working your muscles but also so good for your mental health too. I am neurodiverse and I’m a bigger girl and I had all these thoughts about how everyone around might look, but there were all shapes and sizes and ages and it’s a type of sport where you can feel really comfortable in your own skin.
Ben: Definitely. I actually almost didn’t go – I had seen so many videos and everyone seemed to be a woman! But, when we turned up everyone, was so friendly and welcoming and I had a great time. I’m definitely much more comfortable with what my body can do now. It started off as a great way to stay fit but actually I don’t even think of it as exercise now – it just makes me feel healthy and more confident going out with my body exactly the way it is.
How often do you go?
Ben: We go once a week. We have moved from the beginners to the Intermediate class. We’ve talked about going twice a week. Madi is such a great teacher and makes it a lot of fun.
Maria: We’re definitely thinking about going twice a week but we’re pretty busy so just seeing if we can make it work. I really like that it’s a night out for us together every week. An activity we can do as a couple.
What would you say to someone who is wanting to take it up?
Maria: Oh they should definitely do it because you don’t need any level of skill and can start as an absolute beginner. And it’s so inclusive or everyone – I love that it’s some of the more mature members of our class who have ended up doing all the tricks. There is truly something in it for everyone.
Ben: Definitely do it. Not that many people do it in New Zealand, compared to other sports or types of fitness. And more people should because it’s so much fun. In fact they teach you how to fall on the first lesson so that takes away any fear you may have. I would definitely recommend it to anyone.