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Bells and Wheels

A pair of skates next to a kettle bell

I’ve always been a person that enjoyed playing sports, especially team sports. Growing up I was in dance, swimming, figure skating, ringette, and rugby. I always enjoyed being active but I didn’t really understand training. I would go to my practices and learn the skills and rules of the games so I could play competently but I didn’t have the drive to train on my own time. I was never the best in any of these sports while others that I played with sought out spots on competitive teams. Even in my high school years I did what was necessary to play but I didn’t go beyond that to be better or to be my best.

I joined the Anchor City Rollers Fresh Meat (or Learn to Skate program) in January 2016. Completing this 12 week program has been super fun and challenging. Every Sunday I would lace up my skates and attempt to do everything that was asked of me, even if I fell trying. I’m familiar with tough workouts, even 2 hour long ones - affectionately referred to by a previous coach as a “full metal jacket”, but a workout on wheels brought a whole new level of challenge!

Kettlebell workouts are what I consider functional fitness and are my go to method for training. You work pretty much every muscle in your body during each session and many of the movements have a cardio aspect. In my own personal workouts I also incorporate a lot of bodyweight movements to keep things interesting, not that I could ever get bored of kettlebells! The weights I am currently using generally range from 30 - 55 lbs. This may seem like a lot but, 1. I’ve been doing this for a while now (starting weights are typically 20-25 lbs); 2. you use your entire body to move this amount of weight; and 3. I think about it in terms of training to deal with life: my 1 year old is 26 lbs and my 4yr old is 40 lbs and I want to be able to pick them up if I need to for any reason. As someone that is just working their way back into living a healthy lifestyle after an injury, my main goals are losing fat and gaining strength. I started back into a regular training routine at the same time as starting the Learn to Skate program and to date I feel much stronger and am down 30lbs. I don’t have a scale that measure body fat percentage but I’m pretty sure there has been a significant change!

With each challenge I was given at my Sunday derby practices, I wanted to do my absolute best. I would adjust my workouts during the week to help me attain my goals. For example, I increased my jumping drills so I would have more confidence attacking the cones, I added exercises like side stepping and speed skater to work on my agility, and I incorporated supersets and running to help with my endurance (I really, really, really want to get my 27 in 5!!!) The most basic kettlebell movement is the two-handed swing. This movement targets the posterior chain, namely the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. Because the power comes from your hips and the bell is held in your hands, your core is constantly engaged. A more advanced move that targets similar muscles but is way more intense and gives you more value for your time is the snatch. Strengthening these muscles can help to improve your ability to maintain derby stance for prolonged periods. These workouts are so effective that there is no need to spend hours in the gym. If you are giving it your all, you can train 20-30 min per session and see amazing results.

One of the most important aspects of learning any exercise is making sure things are done correctly and safely. While learning to use kettlebells I had a certified instructor teach me not only the “how” but the “why” of each movement. That encouraged me to the point that after a year of training I also completed the certification and started teaching classes. I encourage anyone that wants to train with kettlebells to seek out not just a personal trainer but someone that is specifically trained as a kettlebell instructor. Derby has been very similar in this aspect, with an excellent array of highly skilled coaches who each have their own teaching method and are all very concerned with safety on skates. I recently became an intermediate skater and I am a little nervous to see what this new level will bring but I’m looking forward to another new challenge knowing that hard work will make me better and I wouldn’t have been moved up if I wasn’t ready.

**If you would like more information on kettlebell training or some assistance finding a certified instructor, send Julie a message through She posts her own workouts and would be happy to answer any questions.

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