A dose of nostalgia meets fitness & community
A disco ball illuminates the hardwood floors, ABBA’s Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! blasts through the speakers, high-waisted shorts and knee-high socks don each skater as they glide on quad skates. No, it’s not the 1980s, it’s 2022.
Wanderlust Wilmington Roller Skaters (WWR) might seem like a favorite pastime (literally), but this group meets weekly to exercise, socialize, and build a community on the rink.
Formed as an extension of Wanderlust Wilmington 2.0 – a private Facebook group for transplants and locals to connect – a single comment inspired ANDREA STAR and NICOLE COLLIER to form WWR.
“Someone posted in Wanderlust Wilmington 2.0, ‘I like to skate, does anyone else skate?’ so, Nicole and I started a group chat and we skated on Thursday at Scooter’s Skating Center,” Star says. “I decided to start the WWR Facebook group and post events. Most of us haven’t skated in ten-fifteen years. We just recently started the group and have grown to almost 150 members.”
Aside from a dose of nostalgia, WWR provides both fitness and mental benefits to its members. The demographic ranges from adults in their sixties to twenty-somethings who just relocated to the area. While Star says the current members are mostly women, all are welcome. WWR meets for Adult Skate Night each Thursday at Scooter’s Family Skating Center, 341 Shipyard Boulevard.
For those looking for some fresh air, Sunday is reserved for a pre-skate dinner or picnic followed by outdoor skating at Long Leaf Park. Eventually, Star and Collier hope to be able to rent out Scooter’s for beginners night.
“I feel like WWR creates a sense of collectiveness. I try to instill to let go of the fear that could be from skating, or the outside world, and to let yourself glide with the skates,” she says. “I have fibromyalgia, and I wasn’t being as active as I should. Skating has changed my life. Someone posted in the group that skating was helping their mental health. A lot of our members, like myself, are introverted and work from home. They come out for the group because they want to build a community.”
While members have been able to cultivate new connections through WWR, many have also found themselves sore after their first skate session, including Star. The American Heart Association lists skating as a top exercise for heart health and although it’s low impact, the average adult can burn up to 10 calories per minute. In all, those who skate weekly can see an improvement in strength, balance, and core stability – along with some newly toned thighs, glutes, and calves.
“Skating is fitness; you’re moving different muscles, and it helps you become relaxed, especially if you’re really tense. Over time, you let loose a little and enjoy the music,” Star says. “For mental health, you’re around people that will lift you up and cheer you on. If you fall, you get right back up, physically and mentally.”
While the health benefits are desirable and achievable, roller skating experienced its own resurgence in 2020 as many were looking for out-of-the-box outdoor activities. Social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok saw a boom in roller dancers, notably Oumi Janta, whose viral skating videos led her to brand deals, including with Bottega Veneta. That same year, there was also a worldwide shortage of roller skates due to their rising popularity.
While those looking to join WWR might be seeking a more personable and collective experience, it’s on the cusp of a growing trend. With Stranger Things season four featuring a key roller rink scene, it seems this pastime from the past will only continue to regain popularity.
As more members join, Star and Collier are in the process of creating an official logo along with a sign and T-shirts. They’re also looking to add more days to the meetups, specifically one for beginners. For those with more advanced skills, a collaboration with Port City Rollerz will help members learn quad skate tricks.
For those interested in joining, Star notes, “Come as you are. If you’ve never skated before that’s perfectly OK, everyone starts somewhere. You just have to believe in yourself and never say you can’t; practice makes progress.”
To view more of photographer Terah Hoobler’s work, go to terahhoobler.com.
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