Workout variety keeps roller derby team fit

The roller derby team uses many different workout techniques.

Ask the members of MedCity Mafia Roller Derby what the benefits are of skating with the team and it sounds like a well-rehearsed script: it’s so fun they don’t even notice they’re working out. But get this—they are sincere!

The women on the team are from all walks of life. Some have always been athletic, have played in competitive sports and are into fitness. Others had been sedentary, new to the sport scene and the demands on their bodies. Because of this, the exercise and diet regimes the team employs are varied and extensive. Yet, results are conclusive—they work.

"I enjoy being physically active," said Jessica Jones a.k.a "Rude Jessture". "I eat healthy 90% of the time and allow myself a few cheat meals and snacks. I wasn’t always this way however."

Finding she had difficulty breathing after walking up a flight of stairs, Jessica took a hard look at herself. What she saw motivated her to make some changes: limiting calories, joining a gym, walking three times a week.

"I purchased the Beachbody DVDs and fell in love with weight lifting. I left cardio in the dust and dedicated myself to pumping iron. Roller derby is so fun I don’t notice how hard I am working. It’s amazing."


Kayla "SMASH" Wagner is one of the team captains. Nearly 10 years after last breaking a sweat working out, she started roller derby.

"After years of sedentary office jobs, I struggled to gain the basic skills I needed [for roller derby]. My body just didn’t have muscle or flexibility needed to even roller skate."

Kayla got into shape by attending two practices per week and skating on her own time. Then she went further.

"I started running; even ran a Ragnar Relay. I realized cross training was the key to take my game to the next level," she said. "Like many athletes, I hit plateaus. When that happens I focus more on strength, weights, HIIT workouts and biking. I push myself."

When she first started roller derby she was a "quiet, unassuming skater with little confidence in ability and never a leader."

Kayla confesses, "If someone had told me I would eventually become a captain, I would never have believed it. Roller derby helped me become confident and empowered me to become a leader."

Amy "MexiCAN MangleHER" Stromback Drewes admits to never working out before she joined the roller derby team. "Now I practice on skates, do CrossFit plus cardio and strength training."

She eats healthier, counts calories and fat and takes vitamins, resulting in more energy and feeling much healthier.


Another major component is mental health benefits. Like so many, being a team member has changed her life.

"I feel better about myself. I’ve built confidence and even look at my body differently. I love the camaraderie and feel like I have a second family," Amy said. "My teammates build me up to be the best I can be. I love them all for that."

The social interaction and support from fellow team members is an important part of participation for Tamara "Pirate Queen" Tomfohrde.

"It isn’t just about the physical changes," she noted. "It’s also mental and emotional. Before I started derby, I was a loner. I left my house to go to work. Now I hang out with an amazing group of women while getting an intense workout. Derby helped show the real me, step out of my comfort zone and put myself out there."

Rock climbing, running, biking and attending CrossFit is the recipe for continued success for Colleen Kannen who goes by "Loose Kannen." She was looking for a sport when she fell in love with roller derby. "A sport where players rely on each other so much is motivation for staying fit and healthy."

"Hannie Oakley", a.k.a. Hannah Champeau, loves to skate. She bikes to work, cross country skis and snowshoes. She hits hard but doesn’t see herself having changed physically.

"Emotionally, I’m a lot calmer. I’m more open and happier. Going to practice after a rough day is almost heaven," Hannah said. "I would rather be volunteering with my team than hanging out with other friends. Strange how that works!"

Angie "Knock Knock Knuckles" Herron handles public relations for the derby. She looks at her derby experience philosophically and concluded it’s evolved into a complete lifestyle change. "Derby is a physically demanding sport requiring total body fitness. A by-product of that is an interest in nutrition and I drink ridiculous amounts of water."


She also discovered the importance of rest and recovery. After a game or hard practice she relaxes, soaks in a hot bath and takes an easy walk with her dogs. "And then there’s sleep; no longer a luxury. It’s a necessity I protect like the precious resource it is."

"It’s fun, it’s social and we get to skate and play a game with friendly and committed women. I look forward to many more seasons," says Jess "Jessicutioner" Dorschner. It seems the whole team agrees.

Want to play roller derby? Join MedCity Mafia for new recruit training starting Monday, May 18.

Have questions? Contact them at or message them on Facebook.

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