Rock 'n' roller
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Danielle Gardner loves dancing. Having dabbled in many dance styles over the years with her husband Steve, she's discovered a new way to bust a move — on roller skates!
"I love that dancing translates so easily onto wheels," says the Devonport-based fashion designer who has run her own vintage-inspired label for the past 13 years.
Danielle discovered skating later in life and says she fell hard for the combination of skating freedom and grace, and cute retro fashion with a "punky feminist attitude".
"It's the one form of exercise, I love making time for each week."
Getting in the zone
Living on Auckland's North Shore means ActivZone has been her skating venue of choice ever since she took up roller skating in 2016.
"I really enjoy the skating classes run at ActivZone, and the convenience of the rink being only a 15-20min drive away."
Having always had a love of dance and choreography, Danielle says rollerskating is a natural extension of both.
"It's so much fun, and has been such a great challenge to take on as an adult who never rollerskated or rollerbladed as a child."
Wheel fun for everyone
There's nothing more satisfying that the freedom of "zooming around a rink and nailing that latest balance move you’ve been working on," she says.
"I also love the people I've met through rollerskating, and that other friends of mine have taken it up too."
The skate escape
Over the years, Danielle's had many friends involved in roller derby which she credits as her introduction to the world of adult rollerskating.
"Then as my friend Samara Buscovick (Lady Trample) started growing her Chicks In Bowls movement here in New Zealand, for skaters who wanted to try skating in skate parks alongside roller derby, I was intrigued by the different forms skating was taking."
"I then saw a video of Michelle Steilen (EstroJen, Moxi Roller Skates) skating around LA with her colourful girl gang of skaters, set to ‘Rebel Girl’ by Bikini Kill, and my heart yelled “THIS!”
Joining the wheel world
Having never skated before, she began her journey by taking classes on Learn To Skate basics and enjoyed it so much she ended up staying in the classes.
"Now I'm learning more artistic skating moves, which I enjoy the challenge of."
From strength to strength
Over the past four years she's built up a lot more strength and control of her balance and has the muscular legs to prove it!
"In the last year we’ve also started to learn some jam skating moves, which has been a lot of fun, as it has more of a street vibe, and can be bust out to retro disco or 90s R&B tunes."
A bit of fun on the side
She's not part of a club or skating league because she considers roller skating a bit of fun on the side.
"Committing to club sports, while also running a creative business, hasn’t really appealed to me."
"Rollerskating is a light, fun activity for me, where I progress at my own pace, while not having the pressures of competitions or vying for medals, is far more attractive for what I personally want out of roller skating."
Learning from the best
"Macarena Carrascosa (Hey Macarena) and Mercedes Carrascosa (ActivZone) are my current coaches, and I have loved learning from them over the years, alongside school-aged students and in the adult classes they run over summer."
When it comes to skating soundtracks, she prefers to roll around to upbeat pop and funk tracks such as I Love It by Icona Pop or Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson, and pretty much anything by Missy Elliott.
"Anything that has a good pace to it, and makes you want to shake your butt and throw your hands in the air! I love dancing, and I love that it translates so easily onto wheels."
Skate minds think alike
Danielle likes to skate at least once a week, usually in one of the classes run at ActivZone.
"I’d love to get together friends who are also into great tunes and fun retro fashion, and descend on the ActivZone more regularly in the public skating sessions."
Getting her retro skates on
Her preferred skate brand is Moxi Skates and she's the proud owner of a deep purple pair which she absolutely adores. "They're still going strong, almost four years on," she says.
A match made in skating heaven
"[My husband] comes from a rollerblading background, so he’s been able to pick up some of the moves quicker than I have. We have a lot of fun skating together, whether in the classes or the public sessions."
Danielle's top tips for getting and staying active
- Joining a class helps to keep you accountable on a regular basis, so you know that particular time slot in your calendar is already spoken for, and you can protect it from being compromised.
- Having a friend or two to exercise with keeps each of you accountable to each other.
- Finding an activity that you really love, where the exercise aspect is just a happy bonus, is the very best place to start, as you’re more likely to stay motivated and actually look forward to doing it.