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Danielle Waterman

A Somerset Olympian helps Muddy off the sofa: Muddy meets one of the UK's top female rugby players

Danielle Waterman in action. England v Spain Pool A match at WRWC 2014 at Centre National de Rugby, Marcoussis, France, on 5th August 2014

England v Spain, Rugby World Cup, 2014

In Rio, she rubbed shoulders with Usain Bolt eating dinner and jumped into the lift with Andy Murray. Back in the UK, Danielle Waterman caught up with Muddy Somerset on the phone.

I admit it, I’d never actually heard of Rugby Sevens until the Olympics but from the moment I saw Team GB women’s squad play the real beautiful game, I was hooked.  The matches were fast, furious and thrilling, with Team GB only narrowly missing out on the Bronze medal. Fullback, Somerset born and bred Danielle Waterman was one of the squad’s star players. She’s the youngest ever player to be capped for England at 18 (and has been capped over 60 times), one of the first players to be awarded a professional playing contract in 2014 (the same year she scored the opening try in the Rugby World Cup final, which England went onto win) and since her debut in 2003 has won more international championships and awards than you can shake a stick at. She’s hot stuff.

WRWC England v Canada, World Cup Final at Stade Jean Bouin, Avenue du GÈnÈral Sarrail, Paris, France, on 17th August 2014

England v Canada, Rugby World Cup Final, 2014

Danielle was born in Taunton, grew up in Minehead, then spent a few years in New Zealand before returning to the West Country.  Rugby is in her blood, her father Jim Waterman (also a fullback) played over 400 times for Bath Rugby in the 70s and both brothers play. Although she now lives in Guildford she’s contracted to Bristol. She’s also a mentor for the Youth Sports Trust charity and a regular commentator on Sky Sports and England Rugby TV.

Like other elite athletes, Danielle has a tailor-made training and dietary programme put together for her by a team of trainers, physios and nutritionists to keep her at the peak of physical fitness throughout the season. I, on the other hand, am not even up to the level of unfitness required to start the BBC ‘Couch potato to 5k’ podcast…so I asked Danielle for some help. Here’s what she said:

Danielle’s tips to getting fit

The key is making small changes over a period of time so that you’re gradually creating a new normal.

Wear the right gear.  That means what feels comfortable for you, not what you think you should be wearing. Invest in a good quality sports bra and the right footwear for whatever activity you’ll be doing. 

Don’t do it alone. Whatever it is you decide to do, try to do it with someone else. You’ll share the highs and the lows of training and on those days when you really don’t feel like getting out there, you’re more likely to push yourself to do it rather than let a friend down.

Set yourself small targets – no matter how small – and put a number to them. Even if it’s just 10 lengths of the pool or 15 minutes running,  it makes what you’re trying to achieve tangible, and you’ll always have something to beat.

Choose a realistic overall goal you can work towards, like taking part in, or completing, a 5k park run. Even taking part is a goal.

Get fit and be sociable. If you’re going to the gym, try to go at the same time every week so you start to get to know other people.

Join a group work out. It can be hard to think of new things to do all the time, so take a class led by someone else every couple of weeks.

Visualise what you eat. If you find it hard to stop treating yourself and want to cut back on the crisps/cakes/bars of chocolate, try and imagine the amount you’d eat in the space of a week stacked together on a table. Then ask yourself is that enough for a kids’ party? For a family night in? Or for just one person?  If you need to cut back, do it gradually. If you’re changing what you eat, don’t call it a diet, call it a habit.

Technology can help. Danielle recommends Apps MyFitnessPal, which is a free calorie counter, diet and exercise journal and MealLogger, along the same lines. Also check out Pinterest for other people’s training tips.


Thanks Danielle  – now, where are my trainers?

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