British snowboarder Aimee Fuller on the Olympics, harnessing fear and reinventing yourself


When I speak to Aimee Fuller at 9.30am on a Monday morning, she’s already done her first workout of the day and has a famously-intense Barry’s class lined up in 45 minutes. That’s quite the impressive start to the week in my book, but, then again, you don’t become a world-class athlete and Olympian without serious levels of motivation. 

At 16 years old, Fuller was scouted to represent Great Britain in snowboarding at the 2014 and 2018 Olympic Games. Fast forward 15 years and, now retired from the sport she loves, Fuller works as an author, TV presenter and host of her own podcast, Monday Mile, where she interviews fellow athletes and celebrities about resilience. She’s travelled across the world with her snowboard on her back and reached the highest levels of her sport. But how did snowboarding – seldom practiced in the UK due to its temperature (yes, really) – become the dream for a young girl from Keston in Kent? 

“When I was little, we often went to Bromley Ski Centre and I later developed an interest in motocross,” explains Fuller. “If you combine skiing and motocross – where you’re reading lines in the ground and working out positions – you have the perfect combination for snowboarding.”

At 12, Fuller moved with her family to the US where she mastered her jumps and tail presses before being scouted. “I had thought I was never going to be able to do this as a career and it was the end of the dream. But about two weeks before we moved back to the UK, I’d been noticed,” she explains. Shortly after landing at her new home in Northern Ireland, Fuller received an invite from the European manager of Roxy to travel to Switzerland and meet with the brand. “That phone call changed my life. I was presented with the opportunity to pursue my dreams.”

One thing that struck me during my conversation with Fuller is her clear commitment to anything she puts her mind to. Despite being deterred from following her snowboarding career while at school in Belfast, Fuller admits she never saw anything but the sport as an option. “After I got my A-Levels, I was convinced I would go to the mountains. I’d go to careers class and they would ask what university I was going to, and I would say I was going to be a snowboarder. They would say that’s not a real career. 

“The opportunity wasn’t just given to me and it was extremely challenging at times, but the environment and the people I was surrounded with were the world’s elite. And when you’re surrounded by the very best, that gives you the motivation to live up [to expectations].”

Once Fuller started training with Roxy, her exercise regime had to extend beyond the slopes. “During summers, I would cycle a lot. Even though my sport is anaerobic, you’re on the mountains for four or five hours at a time [so] you need the ability for your body to recover.

“Also in snowboarding, you’ve got to be agile and bouncy. In between the two Olympics – 2014 and 2018 – yoga became my bread and butter. It really helped with rehab, so I would religiously do one hour every morning and one hour every evening. Snowboarding is a sport which requires so many different elements, and the more you do, the better you will be.”

It’s safe to say Fuller’s 360-degree approach paid off. In the years that followed, she became the first woman to land a double backflip (at the X Games in 2013) and competed at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia and the 2018 Games in South Korea. In 2017, she finished fifth in the world rankings and third in the World Cup Big Air Super Series Tour as a slopestyle competitor. “Being able to achieve a world-first and taking the sport to a new level is something I’m very proud of. I call my snowboarding career the degree of life. 

“Never did I think as a young girl from Keston that I would be able to travel the world with snowboarding, from Australia to New Zealand and China to South Korea. It’s shaped who I am and it’s a very, very special industry.” 

But, as ever, the highs don’t come without the lows – and Fuller found herself plagued by the (entirely understandable) anxieties that come with extreme sports. “Fear has been a huge part of my journey, especially from 2015 onwards. In 2016, I had one of the best seasons of my life but I had started to worry. I decided I didn’t want to get hurt; I was tired of being broken and in pain. 

“There were times when I would go to the top of the mountain, pull down my goggles and just cry. This sport that I had fallen in love with had taken me to a place where I had multiple injuries and was really hurt. During the lead-up to the Olympics, when you’ve got three months to go, the last thing you want to do is get hurt. I didn’t want to miss out on my Olympic dream.” 

So what did Fuller do with that fear? Surprise, surprise, it became the motivation for a book, Fear Less, Live More, released last year. “You don’t have to feel defined by fear and that one moment won’t control the rest of your life,” she explains of its premise. “I apply this to everything: running, yoga, public speaking, getting your driving licence. It helps you realise what is important.” 

Having retired five years ago – shortly after her final Olympic Games – Fuller’s second act has seen her become as well known for her snowboarding as her broadcasting, and you’ve likely seen her presenting BBC Ski Sunday and Morning Live, as well as fronting digital coverage for Prime Video at the US Open and Wimbledon. More recently, she fronted a new Tampax advert and partnered with friend and Strictly Come Dancing star, Katya Jones, for Celebrity Hunted for Stand Up to Cancer. As of next month, there will be a new series of her podcast which launched during lockdown in 2021. 

“It started when we could first go outside and meet friends,” she says. “I decided I’d had enough of staring at screens and Zoom meetings, and I wanted to incorporate movement because it’s good for the body and mind. So, I thought I could invite guests to walk a mile with me on a Monday at a location of their choice to discuss motivation and resilience. We’re always on the move and I talk to people who are excelling in their field.” 

Guests have included Paralympian Laura Steadman, Channel 5 presenter Dan Walker, Formula 1’s Will Buxton and British entrepreneur and Dragon’s Den star, Sara Davies. So, what are Fuller’s highlights? “Ben Shephard is someone I took a lot away from. He’s so graceful and elegant with his words and how he presents himself. His mental agility to manage a career of that magnitude is really inspirational. 

“I also enjoyed talking to Alex Murphy, formerly of Dancing on Ice, who opened up about her stroke. Another highlight would be Paddy McGuinness. We went for a hike around the Teggs Nose Country Park in Macclesfield. The weather was so atrocious and we got drenched, I had to get a new pair of trousers from the charity shop on the way home!”

Season Eight of Monday Mile premieres on 3 July 2023 on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Read more: Fitness snacking: The health trend promising to banish lengthy workouts for good

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