Roll your way to flex­i­bil­ity, strength

Skate­board­ing and roller-skat­ing of­fer phys­i­cal ben­e­fits like mus­cle strength and flex­i­bil­ity

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Michilea Pat­ter­son mpat­ter­son@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @MichileaP on Twit­ter

Peo­ple look­ing for a fun fit­ness ac­tiv­ity should get a set of wheels — of roller blades or on skate­boards that is. Whether it’s at a skate park, roller rink or out­doors in gen­eral; skat­ing and skate­board­ing is an ac­tiv­ity that both kids and adults can en­joy while get­ting phys­i­cal at the same time.

Leo Rawle, an em­ployee of Bent­ley’s Skate Shop in North Coven­try, has been skate­board­ing since he was 10 and said it’s a way of ex­pres­sion for him.

“I just love the free­dom of skate­board­ing,” he said adding that he played team sports as a child but likes that skate­board­ing is more of an in­de­pen­dent ac­tiv­ity.

Rawle said skate­board­ing helped him im­prove his con­fi­dence and teach him about per­se­ver­ance. The ac­tiv­ity has also helped him im­prove bal­ance and his ath­letic abil­ity for other sports. Rawle wres­tles pro­fes­sion­ally and uses skate­board­ing as a cross-train­ing op­por­tu­nity.

“It’s a good core work­out,” he said adding that skate­board­ing is great for stamina as well be­cause you’re con­tin­u­ously push­ing the board around.

The skate shop that Rawle works at sells Roller Derby prod­ucts in ad­di­tion to skate­board­ing gear. Nate Gauger, the owner of Bent­ley’s Skate Shop, re­cently re­lo­cated his store from E. High St. in Pottstown to in­side the Coven­try Mall which is lo­cated in North Coven­try. The store first opened in 2008.

“Bent­ley’s kind of helped save the skate­board­ing com­mu­nity around here,” Rawle said adding that at the time there weren’t a lot of nearby places to pur­chase skate­boards and equip­ment.

Gauger started sell­ing roller skates at his shop in 2010 and is now the of­fi­cial sup­plier for the Pottstown Roller Derby. Gauger be­gan ref­er­ee­ing for area Roller Derby leagues in 2011. He trav­els to dif­fer­ent Roller Derby games through­out Penn­syl­va­nia and even out of state. When he re­lo­cated the skate shop to Coven­try Mall, Gauger had the idea to get Roller Derby teams to skate in­side the mall as a grand open­ing pro­mo­tion. Roller Derby mem­bers from area leagues in­clud­ing Pottstown, Wilkes-Barre and Lan­caster got to ig­nore the mall’s “no skate” rule for one week­end.

Deirdre “Bomb Dig­gaDee” Kelly is the coach for the Pottstown Roller Derby’s Fresh Meat Pro­gram and skated pass mall cus­tomers last week­end along with sev­eral of her team mem­bers. The Fresh Meat Pro­gram is for be­gin­ner skaters just get­ting started with Roller Derby. The con­tact sport in­cludes two teams with five play­ers each skat­ing on a track. One player called the “jam­mer” scores points while the rest of the team acts as block­ers.

Kelly said the Pottstown league is more recre­ational than com­pet­i­tive. She said a lot of peo­ple join the team as a way to so­cial­ize with other women or as an ex­er­cise op­por­tu­nity.

“Roller Derby is all about be­ing un­com­fort­able,” she said adding that the sport keeps you fit be­cause of the way your body moves when play­ing.

Kris­ten Reaney “Tough Cookie” started her first sea­son on the Pottstown Roller Derby Fresh Meat Pro­gram just this year. Reaney said the team has been a pos­i­tive in­flu­ence on her and that ev­ery­one was very wel­com­ing when she joined.

“It’s been awe­some. It’s been amaz­ing. I love it,” she said.

First start­ing out, Reaney learned some skat­ing ba­sics when she joined like how to do crossovers and how to skate back­wards. She said the team also does ex­er­cises such as squats, pushups and sit-ups.

“It’s ba­si­cally a work­out on skates. We’re learn­ing how to skate but then we’re also try­ing to get in shape,” Reaney said.

Aleigha Wag­ner “Alto Hurtya” joined the Dutch­land Derby Rollers of Lan­caster in May. Wag­ner said skat­ing helped her meet new peo­ple and was also a good way to get more fit. She’s lost a few pounds since join­ing the team and gained mus­cle.

“My pants are fit­ting bet­ter and I’ve had to buy smaller sizes so that’s ex­cit­ing,” Wag­ner said.

Wag­ner said skat­ing on a Roller Derby team has re­ally im­proved her bal­ance. She goes home ev­ery night and prac­tices balanc­ing on one foot.

“When you play [Roller Derby], you’re al­ways turn­ing to the left. The left leg gets stronger so you have to com­pen­sate out­side of the games to get that other side bal­anced too,” she said.

Wag­ner said flex­i­bil­ity is an­other skill that’s re­ally im­por­tant when skat­ing. She said play­ers find them­selves in all kinds of po­si­tions dur­ing a Roller Derby game so flex­i­bil­ity helps them to move bet­ter. In the past few years, Roller Derby leagues have be­come quite pop­u­lar in the area. Other lo­cal Roller Derby teams in­clude the Wilkes Barre/Scran­ton Roller Rad­i­cals, the Brandy­wine Roller Derby, and the Read­ing Derby Girls.

For more healthy liv­ing sto­ries, visit the Fit for Life web­site pottsmer­c­

“My pants are fit­ting bet­ter and I’ve had to buy smaller sizes so that’s ex­cit­ing.” — Aleigha Wag­ner, Dutch­land Derby Rollers of Lan­caster “It’s ba­si­cally a work­out on skates. We’re learn­ing how to skate but then we’re also try­ing to get in shape.” — Kris­ten Reaney, Pottstown Roller Derby


Mem­bers of area Roller Derby teams skate in­side the Coven­try Mall in North Coven­try. The skaters were al­low to ig­nore the “no skate” rule for one day as part of a spe­cial event for Bent­ley’s Skate Shop which re­cently re­lo­cated to the mall.

Roller Derby teams from Pottstown, Wilkes-Barre and Lan­caster skated in­side the Coven­try Mall in North Coven­try to help pro­mote the re­lo­ca­tion of Bent­ley’s Skate Shop. The shop’s owner is a ref­eree for area Roller Derby leagues.

Pottstown Roller Derby mem­bers skate in­side the Coven­try Mall in North Coven­try as part of a grand open­ing cel­e­bra­tion for Bent­ley’s Skate Shop.

Deirdre Kelly, far right, skates in­side the Coven­try Mall as part of a grand open­ing cel­e­bra­tion for Bent­ley’s Skate Shop. Kelly is part of the Pottstown Roller Derby.

Mem­bers of the Dutch­land Derby Rollers, a women’s league in Lan­caster, skate in­side the Coven­try Mall in North Coven­try. Leagues from the area came out to ig­nore the mall’s “no skate” rule for a week­end.

Skate­boards with col­or­ful and creative de­signs are dis­played at Bent­ley’s Skate Shop in­side the Coven­try Mall in North Coven­try.

Roller skat­ing can help im­prove flex­i­bil­ity, en­durance and more.

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