More Londoners than ever are working out – and it’s not all about beach bods and muscle gains. Amy Smith hears inspiring stories from exercise evangelists. Portraits Andy Parsons
Alix Nardella (also known as Wiley Minogue), 28, performs as a star jammer for the London Rockin’ Rollers, a roller derby team celebrating their tenth anniversary this year.
‘I got into roller derby after seeing “Whip It” when I was a teenager. You hear of so many people who got into it because of that film! When I moved to London from Australia, I signed up for the London Rockin’ Rollers’ “fresh meat” course.
‘I was originally going to use the name “Dame Judi Hench”, but I’m quite small and not particularly hench. Being Australian, it kind of made sense to be called “Wiley Minogue”.
‘I work in hospitality, so there’s a lot of late nights. I hadn’t found anything I was passionate about enough to get up early for, but then I fell in love with roller derby. Now
I train twice a week and go to the gym: there are so many squats in my life now! I train as a jammer: the jammer is the person who has to duck and weave to get the points.
‘My previous self would not believe I’m going to gym and training six hours a week. I’ve changed my diet, I’ve quit smoking… all sorts of things. We are told to stand in the middle of the tube carriage and not hold on to anything to improve our core strength. Rush hour is a great chance to practise running and ducking.
‘I definitely feel a lot happier now. I’ve never been part of a team sport and derby is super-welcoming. And we get to play internationally. I travel a lot for work and quite often, if I know I’ll be in a place for a couple of days, I’ll get in touch with the local league and train with them.
‘We put on lots of events including the notorious lip-sync battles. I’ve not done one yet, but it’s probably on the cards! I guess it’s got to be Kylie…’
Catch Wiley Minogue and the London Rockin’ Rollers at the next roller derby at Tottenham Green Leisure Centre, N15 4JA. Sat Jul 29.
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