Jen Yonda strapped her roller skates on for the first time in 2018, taking her maiden voyage along Boston’s Charles River. Despite falling multiple times, she fell in love with it. “I felt really free- I was not good at all, but it opened a new world for me where I could sightsee and be outdoors and move my body”.
A year later she swapped the turbulent weather of the East Coast for the year-round sunshine of Los Angeles so she could spend more time outdoors. She began skating with a local group but found they were quite advanced and male-dominated. In an effort to meet other women who skated, Jen began hosting a weekly meetup that she advertised through Facebook.
The Skate Hunnies took off in the spring of 2021. They will frequently see 50 or more people at events. The Hunnies host meetups all around the city - in Santa Monica, Venice, Beverly Hills, and Culver City - featuring sessions for people of varying skill levels and experience. Their beginner meetups are now some of their most popular.
“People come with the hope of starting a new hobby, becoming more active, making friends, and building a community for themselves”.
Founder, LA Skate Hunnies
The Hunnies’ rapid growth in 2021 also came as a surprise to Jen, which she wasn’t entirely ready for. “I didn’t know that this was going to become so big. I was kind of socially anxious about it because I’d never been a big public speaker.”
For Jen, the biggest challenge she’s had as the leader has been evolving with the group as it’s grown, and trying to honor what the group wants while remaining true to herself and what she can do. “A lot of group leaders burn out because they’re trying to please too many people. I’ve had to evolve with the group and let go of the autonomy of controlling it. I can’t run events for a community of over 600 people alone - I have to let other people do what they’re good at.”
The group has flourished in the last couple of years, and while leading a group of this size can be stressful, its rewards far outway the downsides. For Jen, the connections she’s made and the overall impact the group has had on others are what keep her motivated. “It’s cool to watch people connect, have a great time, and better themselves and be healthy through working out, skating, and honoring their inner child.”
Moving the group to Heylo has been game-changing for Jen, since the platform has allowed her to share administrative responsibilities more easily. Heylo’s features have also allowed her to foster a community feel in the group and made it much easier for people to find important information about upcoming events.