Small Moves, Big Results
Give keepie-uppies, skipping and skateboarding a try! That’s what Thea Kyvåg, Sarah Louise and Danni Gallacher do to keep moving. They tell us their story, what inspires them to move, and why the number 300 is so significant for people’s wellbeing
By Tomi Otekunrin
Photography by Claudia Agati
Going out and seeking any form of connection is human nature. Staying connected to one another helps us form bonds, gives us a sense of belonging and increases our quality of life. Skateboarder Danni Gallacher created Girls Skate UK, a flourishing community that helps young girls and women learn how to skate and share their love of the sport. West Ham United F.C. Women’s winger Thea Kyvåg learnt how to play football so that she could spend more time with her friends. Skipping extraordinaire Sarah Louise has amassed over 100K+ followers on her @skippingwithsarah Instagram account, through her love of skipping. All of these influential women have built careers and have found their chosen community through making real connections.
Thea, Sarah and Danni understand that movement can not only help improve mental and physical health, but it can also help spark new relationships and that’s why they have teamed up with PUMA for a new campaign. Supporting the brand’s She Moves Us platform, PUMA300 is an initiative that aims to inspire young girls and women to do 300 moves of any activity to help improve their overall wellbeing. The campaign’s name is based on a Statista report, which shows that the average UK person scrolls over 300 metres on their phone every day.
Being on our phones helps us stay connected in this digital age, however too much time on our devices can have damaging effects on both our mental and physical health. A short burst of movement can allow us to disconnect from the constant distractions and notifications from our phones, and instead help us reconnect with our mind and body. For example, you could set a goal for yourself to see how many keepie-uppies you could do in a set amount of time and see if you keep up with a pro like Thea. You could buy a skipping rope and practise a few times a week until you can match Sarah’s fancy footwork. Or you roll out the skateboard and work on perfecting an ‘Ollie’ like Danni. Find what moves you and maybe you’ll pick up a buddy or two.
At the young age of 18, Norwegian footballer Thea has already achieved so much. She has represented her country at the 2022 UEFA Women’s U19 Championships, has racked up 40+ appearances for LSK Kvinner, and now wears the famous claret and blue as West Ham United F.C Women’s newest attacking winger. All of this success started from having fun in the playground. “Literally, like all my friends played football growing up,” Thea says. “It was a good way to hang out with my friends and make new ones. That’s how it became a passion for me.”
Thea’s passion has transformed into a prosperous career that has allowed her to move countries, join a new team and play in a different league that continues to grow in popularity. All of these new changes would usually cause one to be a little apprehensive but the Norwegian winger is enthused instead. “It’s always been my dream to play in this league. The Women’s Super League is the biggest and best league.”. As Thea is slowly adjusting to a new city, different food and changing weather, she’s also having to get accustomed to a different style of play. “The game here has a higher tempo and every aspect is a lot more professional. But I’m enjoying it.”
One thing Thea does find challenging — like everyone else — is getting off her phone. When she finds herself spending too much time on her phone, she likes to remember what’s most important to her. “Spending time with my friends and family makes me feel the happiest,” she says. “It’s important to switch off, be aware and to remember that it’s not only the phone that matters.” The West Ham player hopes the campaign will encourage girls and women to be more active, especially with others who can support you, saying, “It doesn’t matter what activity you choose, as long as it makes you feel better.”
Danni doesn’t only want to teach young girls and women how to skate, she also wants to create welcoming spaces where people can be themselves. After she built up the largest women and non-binary skateboard community in the UK with Girls Skate UK, she launched The Skate Retreat. The retreats run two weeks out of the year and currently take place in an idyllic, expansive woodland in Norfolk. These excursions allow older skaters to skate in a more open and relaxed setting. “When you go to a skate park, you’re there skating with people, particularly kids who are really, really good and that can feel quite intimidating,” Danni explains. “I just realised that there was a massive market for older people that wanted to learn how to skate in a totally judgement free kind of place.”
Skateboarding isn’t only about finesse and flair, it can also be a mode of transport that allows you to connect with others — that’s how it started out for Danni. “I lived at the top of a big hill, and all my friends hung out at the bottom of the hill. So, it was just in my best interest to learn how to skate and get down the hill quicker.” The Girls Skate UK founder wasn’t an immediate pro when she first got on the board. “Actually, I’m not a natural. I work really hard at the tricks that I do,” she says. “Skateboarding is about perseverance. People think that you need to have mad balance or skills but you don’t, you just need to keep on going. Once you push past the fear of starting something new, you can accomplish almost anything.”
Wanting to break the monotony of everyday life during the lockdown in 2020, Sarah Louise took up a new hobby of skipping after seeing her partner engage in the activity. She wasn’t immediately good at skipping, but she found herself hooked after a few attempts and was determined to get better. “It was just one of those things where it felt difficult, but it felt like with a bit of practice, it would potentially get easier”. After reaching out to skipping pros and receiving their advice to start skipping only a few minutes per day, Sarah found the sport more manageable and started to notice the small improvements that encouraged her to keep going.
To document her progress, Sarah started her now popular @skippingwithsarah Instagram account. She never thought she’d have amassed such a big following or do major brand collaborations. “I started the account to get involved in the community. I wanted to share my experiences with other people who were in the same boat and just learn from each other,” Sarah says. Though her community mostly exists online, Sarah has been able to use her platform to meet up with other skilled skippers across the globe.
Skipping for Sarah is about community, invoking that child-like joy and improving your mental health. These reasons are why she joined the PUMA300 campaign. “I’m obviously a huge advocate for not using, or not focusing on exercises simply to lose weight,” she says. “I think that it’s really good that this campaign focuses more on using exercise to improve just health in general and finding an activity that’s fun and relatable to you.”
Whether it’s skipping, skateboarding, sprinting or yoga, find what moves you and start off small. After all, 300 metres can go by before you know it..
Photography By Claudia Agati, Editorial Design by Root