Healthy Havering: Ice skating at Romford's Sapphire Ice and Leisure centre is 'addictive fun'
PUBLISHED: 17:00 28 August 2018 | UPDATED: 09:33 28 September 2018
Obesity-related hospital admissions in Havering soared over the past three years, so reporter April Roach went ice skating in Romford as part of the Recorder's Healthy Havering campaign.
“It’s a mental sport,” says ice skating coach Jack Newberry, moments before I’m about to step on the ice.
“There’s nothing to be afraid of. As long as your skates are tight and you have some confidence you’ll be fine,” he says.
“Don’t let your fear overtake you.”
Taking his advice, I re-tighten my skates, push my mental fears aside and step onto the ice.
After a couple of wobbles I’m still standing upright and able to make my way across the rink to join the other skaters taking part in Sapphire Ice and Leisure’s weekly Learn to Skate session.
I’m not a complete beginner as I used to ice skate regularly at school.
For about five hours a week I skated with a synchronised ice skating company in preparation for an annual dance show.
However, it’s been six years since I’ve been ice skating and as I take my first step onto the rink, I’m definitely a bit wobbly and out of balance.
With the encouragement of the coaches I’m soon sailing away and ready to take part in the session.
Andrea Quant, Carolyn Ansted and Jenny Meade have been taking part in the Learn to Skate programme since the leisure centre’s opening in February.
Jenny explains that she tried ice skating before at the old rink in Romford and returned now to try something new.
The four of us line up at one end of the rink and wait for instructions.
Ice coach Kelly Aiano starts us off with some basic exercises to get us warmed up.
Soon we’re more moving onto over-turns which involves crossing one skate over the other to skate in a circle.
With a smaller group of four skaters, Kelly is able to provide lots of support and individual guidance to help us improve.
We end the session by practicing three-turns which involves completing a half-turn on one skate to change direction.
With my previous experience I’m able to also try a couple of spins with Jack.
By the end of the session I have remembered all of the reasons why I loved ice skating in the first place.
There’s nothing like the invincible feeling of picking up speed over the ice and mastering a new move.
It’s an addictive fun sport and a great way to keep active while having a good time.
“You’ve got to be super fit to be a skater. You’re working your legs and basically using all of your body,” said Kelly.
Jack added: “It uses all of the muscles that you don’t normally use, it’s a bit like pilates.
“It’s all about maintaining good core strength.”
While we are taking part in the Learn to Skate session, half of the ice is partitioned off for a public session.
I notice a young eager boy who keeps falling over, with each crash sounding more painful than the next.
Fellow skaters are quick to come to his rescue, but as soon as he’s standing upright, he’s off again moving with even more speed and determination.
Ice skating is undeniably a challenging sport - it challenges your muscles and sense of balance but perhaps most importantly, your stamina and ability to bounce back and keep trying despite the falls.
I will definitely not be waiting another six years before I return to the ice.
Skate UK is the National Ice Skating Association’s learn to skate programme for beginners of all ages. The programme is set up in ten stages which you can progress through as you develop your ice skating.
The sessions take place on a Monday and Thursday at 7pm - 7.30pm and on a Tuesday at 8pm - 8.30pm.
They cost £9.50 a session, but discount prices may be available to members.
For more information visit everyoneactive.com/centre/sapphire-ice-leisure.