On-skates to Off-skates and Back Again

It’s 5:00am, it’s still dark outside and the temperature is hovering around 2 degrees.  I’m awake and briskly pulling on workout gear while brushing my teeth before heading out the door and into my frozen car to get to a workout class entirely focused on core-strength.  This is day 1 of my new off-skates workout routine and it is tough; it’s also well worth it. A common misconception when you’re first starting out with roller derby is that your main focus is all on-skates. In learning to move, learning to stop, learning proper technique, etc. and though this is incredibly important and definitely a top priority, the working out you do off-skates is equally so.  Of course teaching your body the muscle memory in moving laterally and staying low or in putting the right amount of force so your plow stops stick and your turnaround stops keep you staying inbounds will make blocking jammers and fighting your way through a pack that much easier, but what you do when you’re still in shoes also helps tenfold in what happens when you’re on-skates.

Off-skates workouts help you to focus on your body as a whole, not just those muscles you need to skate well and stay upright.  Working out off-skates keeps everything in balance, it keeps you flexible so that when you do fall or get hit, you’re able to get back up quickly and keep moving.  I started an off-skates focus in February and have been doing everything I can to make sure I’m in the gym or doing something else in my gym shoes at least twice a week.  I push myself hard when at practice but equally as hard when I’m not at the rink and by the end of February I could tell the difference in how I was skating because of it.  My endurance was up, my strength and stability was up, I could take hits better.  It made being on skates that much easier, and for a new girl still learning the ropes, building that confidence has helped tremendously.

The Outfit has a great off-skates focus for everyone on the league whether new or veteran.  Tuesday nights are dedicated to a one hour fitness bootcamp at Urban Athlete where the focus can be on anything from abs and core to upper-body and endurance.  There is also one practice a week for each of our teams that are dedicated to off-skates workouts at the rink.  This not only helps build our strength individually as a skaters and players but it builds our team dynamic as well.  Sweating our way together through burpees and lunges, through group planks and mountain-climbers, we can support each other when it’s difficult and congratulate each other when it’s over and share the load in shoes as much as we do when we’re on the track.

- Rhonda Swanson