What would you say if I told you that there existed a kind of exercise that you would want to do all day long? And no, it’s not what you’re thinking of. But it is a sport that might be the most fun you’ve ever had in a room with dozens (and dozens!) of other women. Most of whom, by the way, are wearing reeeeally short shorts (not that I was, er, noticing that or anything. Nope. Not me). And where you all get to make up a fantasy kickass alter-ego? A kind of sport that’s equal parts nostalgia, badassery, tough women and having a bloody good time? One where women of all shapes, sizes and gender expressions get to kick ass, take names and then go for a few pints and compare bruises? Oh, and also there’s something called a ‘booty block’. Oh, my.
I don’t know about you, but I was intrigued. As if it were tailor-made to tempt a beanbag-bound nerdlady like myself to pop Captain Picard on pause, put down the caramel coated rice cakes and leave the house to try out this unfamiliar thing called ‘physical exercise’.
A bunch of emails and several months of skating around the park and the roller disco later, me and my sparkly-laced quads ventured into the first session of what’s slightly-terrifyingly called Fresh Meat training with the Dublin Roller Girls. To say I was intimidated walking in the door is an understatement. I’ve never exactly been a jock. My idea of a fun Friday night is more likely to involve a good book or a stack of board games than wild antics. What on earth would the likes of me be doing joining up with the impossibly cool roller derby girls? Team sports are something that other people do.
Or, at least, they were.
Within about, eh, 5 minutes I realised I’d no need to be intimidated. These impossibly cool derbyers were also friendly and welcoming, and my fellow freshmeat was as nervous-yet-excited as myself. There were tons of people on hand to help us out with which way up our knee pads were supposed to go, correcting everyone who had their wrist guards on backwards and somehow understanding our muffled “offuffgoffsfhshfhsh” from behind our mouthguards.
In what seemed like no time we’d managed to get ourselves dressed and were wobbling our way around the track. By the end of the first session we were like pros, most of us well on our way to having mastered the arts of going forward, turning to the side and even stopping without relying on the classic ‘barrelling straight into a wall’ maneuver. We even learned a new and exciting way of falling over- this time with no flailing and bruises at all. Win!
The next few days were filled up with tons of new Facebook friendings and shared stories of aching muscles, inability to stand up and tons of excitment about getting back up on our skates the next week. Almost instantly we turned into a truly masochistic bunch itching for more training and delightedly comparing our stinky wrists after a good session of skating.
Falling for a derby
In the past few weeks I’ve learned more ways to fall over than I ever imagined possible. I’ve also discovered things I’d never have expected, from voluntarily doing hundreds of squats, lunges and push-ups in a week, to how lovely it is when we see someone mastering something they’ve been having a really hard time with and everyone stops to cheer. Possibly the sweetest thing on the planet, that is.
But it’s early days yet! Barely past week three of training and we’ve already had bruises, scrapes, and at least one uncomplaining visit to A&E on the same day I was complaining to all and sundry about what could charitably be called a pulled shoulder muscle. Kind-of. Ish.
And in the midst of it all I’m spending my week counting the days till Sunday and wondering if this is what being a jock is like, and whether that’d be so bad after all.
I’ll be reporting in to you lot in a few weeks with more tales from the fresh meat frontier. Will I have my very own sparkly new skates by then? Will I ever decide on a derby name? How many more visits to A&E will we have racked up? And what was that about a booty block again? Stay tuned!