Health, fitness & roller derby!


Health, fitness & roller derby!

by: Gia Witmer | .
Kokeshi Roller Dolls | .
published: September 28, 2015

Good nutrition and regular exercise provide numerous positive physical and mental benefits. Many people find participation in sports to be a fun way to increase their activity and become more aware of their diet. From soccer to yoga to roller derby, there is a sport for every type of athlete. Working with a fitness group, committing to a diet plan, or registering with a sports team can help guide you to success in reaching your health and fitness goals. In time, the inner athlete that emerges may even surprise you! 

Okinawa provides a variety of health and fitness outlets to participate in. Many of the options available on island target men and children; however, roller derby is a great avenue for women to take control of their physical and mental wellness. When people think of roller derby they often picture a theatrical show where women dress up, skate in a counter clockwise direction and hit each other explicitly for the audience. The showmanship of contemporary derby has often overshadowed the athleticism of the sport. Modern roller derby is a strategic and competitive sport that has generated global popularity and is conducive to a diverse community regardless of body type, experience, and athletic capabilities. Many athletes of other sports, as well as many who consider themselves to be non-athletic in the traditional sense enjoy participating in roller derby.

It would seem crazy to even think of joining a local roller derby program, right? Wrong! For many, simply the thought of joining a roller derby program can seem overwhelming or out of their comfort zone.  For many members of the Kokeshi Roller Dolls (KRD), Okinawa’s premier roller derby league, athleticism was never a trait they categorized themselves in as a child or young adult. After joining the league, they began to make new connections between health and fitness as well as finding it highly rewarding. KRD targets women over the age of 18 who are looking to try a sport that provides an intense, thorough, total body workout. For many KRD team members, trying something new has helped fill a void during their assignment here in Okinawa. More often than not, team members have gone from knowing very little about roller derby to having it evolve into an integral part of their day to day lives. Though roller derby isn’t the ideal sport for everyone, like other sports, participation can give you a sense of self pride, accomplishment, confidence, along with the motivation to stay physically fit!

Actively participating in a sport keeps you engaged and aware of your daily health and fitness. In relation to health, having good nutritional habits can increase performance in your daily activity, develop a more positive mental state, and generate more energy throughout the day. The transition to eating more healthy may seem like a difficult task, however, with athletic motivation, it becomes effortless and routine. In order to maximize your athletic performance, you have to fuel your body with healthy choices. When intaking healthy foods, your body transforms physically in many ways such as weight loss, clearer skin, and increased muscle tone. Your body also greatly benefits from pre and post workout mini meals, shakes or snacks, which provide your body with the fuel needed to make it thru the workout and the proper nutrition to recover following a workout. Though the mental effects aren’t visual, you will feel less stressed, happier, and more productive with a balanced diet.

The culture of the roller derby community is quite unique! There are a large variety of athletes with differences in appearances, interests, personalities, and backgrounds, however; they all have one thing in common, a love for roller derby. This one, single aspect brings together all these different individuals from all over the world to participate in this sport while encouraging, teaching, and learning from one another. There is also a competitive component to this sport that promotes healthy challenges amongst each athlete. Skaters constantly challenge one another to try new skills, accomplish new goals, and push beyond their personal limits. Instead of an “I can’t” attitude, we encourage an “I can” attitude, which will lead to an overall more positive disposition. Committing your time at practice with your teammates assists in an advantageous routine for your mind and body. Knowing that regular exercise outside of derby practice will only make that next practice easier keeps skaters motivated to continue working out off skates.

There are numerous reasons and benefits to getting involved in roller derby or sports in general.  For some, having a friend or a group of friends to workout with is more motivating than an independent workout. In roller derby, you will meet many new people who quickly become your teammates, closest friends, and even your family while you are abroad. Secondly, roller derby is a year-round sport that gives participants an outlet to relieve day-to-day tension and stress; you can show up to practice with your mind focused on those stressors and leave practice relaxed and with a clear mind! With a piecemeal training approach, roller derby is one sport that allows you to learn and improve at your own pace without being forced to perform if you’re not ready. The environment of roller derby is consistently challenging while still being fun and exciting.  This makes it an appealing alternative to the stagnant gym workouts that leave many unfulfilled and unmotivated.

A common concern for many people while participating in roller derby is injuries. Injuries occur in all sports, especially in full contact sports; however, there are some very simple ways to prevent injuries in roller derby. First, before lacing up your skates, you should always wear protective gear including: helmet, elbow pads, knee pads, wrist guards and a mouth guard. Before partaking in any physical activity, you should always warm-up your body. KRD finds dynamic stretching, a routine that involves only controlled body movements, to be the best preparation to have maximum output during exercise. Additionally, you should commit to stretching after any workout while your muscles are warm. This is one way to prevent muscle injuries and soreness while stimulating muscle growth. Variety in your exercise regimen will help to ensure that you maximize your improvement potential. Finally, becoming well rounded in your overall fitness will increase your strength in your chosen sport.  Some exercises that can aid in this include yoga, plyometrics, strengthening, stretching, and pushing thru cardio exercises. Listen to your body when it tells you that something is overused, exhausted, or injured. Often, a little rest can make the difference between overuse and serious injury. Injuries can be prevented; put in a little time outside of practice, remember to stretch and always listen to your body!

A roller derby league creates a unique environment that supports each team member as she learns and grows at her own pace, never leaving its members feeling intimidated to try new skills. The training program is unlike any other program offered in other team sport settings and the camaraderie and friendships made are priceless and lifelong! You can make new friends while simultaneously reaping the health benefits that roller derby has to offer. Whether you’re a roller skating veteran or have never laced up a pair of skates in your life, I highly recommend trying roller derby as a way to pursue your fitness goals while having an incredible amount of fun. Roller derby isn’t for you? No matter what sport you choose to try, staying committed to being fit, keeping a clear, happy mind, and living a healthy lifestyle will have numerous positive benefits for you and your family.

Leran more about Roller Derby and the Kokeshi Roller Dolls at: