Get­ting fit and fall­ing in love with roller derby along the way

WHEN CATHER­INE DWYER WANTED TO GET FIT­TER, ROLLER DERBY HELPED HER ACHIEVE HER GOALS – AND FIND A SPORT SHE LOVED IN THE PROCESS

Good Health (Australia) - - Content -

‘In my pri­mary school years, I was pretty ac­tive. I grew up in north­ern Vic­to­ria and in small towns you played sport be­cause there wasn’t much else to do for en­ter­tain­ment. I tried net­ball, ten­nis and bad­minton. Dur­ing high school I did taek­wondo for a few years, but I never stuck to any­thing.

Af­ter high school I worked as a re­tail man­ager. I was a rel­a­tively av­er­age weight but when I met my boyfriend and we were to­gether for five years, I grad­u­ally put on weight. I wasn’t eat­ing well and I wasn’t do­ing any phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity. I worked 10 or 12-hour days and by the time I ar­rived home I was too tired to cook, so I’d buy KFC or Mcdon­ald’s.

I was sick of how I looked. I was a size 14 to 16 – not hugely over­weight but I felt un­com­fort­able in my clothes. My boyfriend would buy me lol­lies to cheer me up!

When I tried to go for a run I could only man­age a cou­ple of hun­dred me­tres. That was a wake-up call - I re­alised how un­fit I was. But I couldn’t find a way to get fit that I en­joyed… un­til I found roller derby.

When I was about five I tried on my sis­ter’s old roller skates and I wanted to roller skate from then. Later I’d see roller derby on Amer­i­can TV shows and it al­ways looked ex­cit­ing. I re­mem­ber see­ing a show like NCIS and watch­ing a scene where a woman was in a roller derby team and she was ‘jam­ming’ – skat­ing fast and duck­ing and weav­ing. The speed and the sen­sa­tion of glid­ing just looked like fun.

About seven years ago I was vis­it­ing my fam­ily for a few weeks and saw a poster ad­ver­tis­ing roller derby in the lo­cal shop­ping cen­tre. I called the num­ber and the next week­end I joined about 30 other women for my first train­ing ses­sion. Most of the women al­ready had their skates and one of the girls let me bor­row hers. I put them on and I was in love. The first game I played was a fundraiser. I didn’t know any­one on my team and I was in­cred­i­bly ner­vous. There was a mo­ment when I thought ‘What am I do­ing here?’ But it was a lot of fun – al­though it fin­ished a few min­utes early be­cause some­one put a hole in the floor! I’ve never seen that be­fore.

I filled in for dif­fer­ent teams and got a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence do­ing that. I’d go to boot camps and prac­tice games; I played as of­ten as I could. I started off train­ing twice a week – a ses­sion goes for about two hours. Now I live in Mel­bourne I’m with the Kingston City Rollers and I train three times a week. I’m a jam­mer or point scorer

– I fight through the pack and there’s a lot of speed, agility and en­durance re­quired. In 2015 I played in my first Grand Fi­nal. Grow­ing up I never thought I’d play in a Grand Fi­nal or win a tro­phy. That was a mas­sive high­light.

The sport is hard work but be­cause I love skat­ing, it doesn’t feel like a chore and I didn’t even no­tice I was build­ing my fit­ness. But grad­u­ally I could do things more eas­ily, like run. I can run 8km now and fur­ther if I want to. I also do a lot of ply­o­met­ric work – high-in­ten­sity ex­er­cise that builds stronger core and leg mus­cles. I’ve had no ma­jor in­juries, just some bruises and a few sprained an­kles.

I cut out a lot of the junk food. Most morn­ings I have eggs and I love tuna sal­ads, lamb and stir-fried veg­eta­bles and healthy soups that I make my­self. I snack on dark cho­co­late, nuts or car­rot sticks with hum­mus. If I need some­thing quick, I have a chai pro­tein drink. I do have a sweet tooth but I make low-carb brown­ies or whizz frozen straw­ber­ries, ste­via and lemon juice in a Nutribul­let – it tastes like sor­bet.

I’m now a size 8/10. I en­joy shop­ping and buy­ing clothes and feel much bet­ter about my­self. I’m a lot more con­fi­dent than I was.

It can be hard to start a new sport when you lack con­fi­dence and get ner­vous. That was me. But when you per­se­vere there are so many ben­e­fits. Next on my list is danc­ing and park­our – roller derby is just the start…

one of the girls let me bor­row her skates. I put them on and I was in love It’s hard work but be­cause I love skat­ing, it doesn’t feel like a chore

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