Ali from Bunn the Baker has been trying to get me to go to Roller Derby practice with her for weeks but after a knee injury (bursitis) from skating, I kept putting it off. I used to skate on inlines years ago but was never particularly good. I don’t like new situations and I don’t like not being very good at something but hearing Ali talk about derby and the people she was meeting, I was slowly persuaded.
We went out for lunch and bumped into a number of derby folk who Ali told to expect me at the next practice. I couldn’t back out. I turned up with my skates (acquired by my mum who took them from a work colleague’s son – it’s all legit) and signed up.
Admittedly, I was terrified. But then more newbies turned up. I made friends and started to feel more relaxed once I was kitted out with knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards and a helmet. I took the the skating rink.
I was a little wobbly to begin with but soon got into the swing on things. It’s like riding a bike. My balance wasn’t great but the more I skated, the more my confidence grew. We then got into the learning the derby basics. T-stops, plow stops, knee taps, knee falls, sticky feet, derby stance and so on.
The knee taps and knee falls were the part that did me in. It’s, essentially, lunging while skating. I have good strong thighs (thank you, years of squats) so at least I had the power to do it over and over again.
By the end of the three hours session I was sweating, sore, out of breath and feeling victorious.
So, that may all sound like a leg workout and, for the most part, it is. But my arms, abs and shoulders ache too. That’s because you’re using the rest of your body for stabilisation. Your abs get a huge workout in keeping you upright and I was waving my arms all over the place the keep balance (not sure this is good practice but it worked). You’re not putting your hands on the floor but you do use your arms to help you get from your knee tap/fall by pressing on your legs. It’s the most fun full body workout I’ve ever had.
I think two hours of skating burns around 1500 calories. The extra hour was mostly kitting up and stretching.
Ali wrote a post on The Pleasure Forecast about the emotional side of playing derby and how a team sport is an amazing thing to be a part of. That post sold derby to me more than anything else so I suggest you give it a read.
I envisage a lot of my time from here on is going to be spent looking at bright leggings to wear to training and saving my pennies for some good skates.