Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Skate Jam 101

Monday night I made my way over to United Skates for my first jam skate lesson. It's so funny how in a sea of skaters, you can spot a derby girl a mile away. As I surveyed the rink, one of the first people I noticed had on shorts, knee pads and wrist guards, not the normal garb for an open skate session. I took another look and it was Fresh Blood Maryann, my little derby sister. So nice to see one of our girls working hard outside of practice!

So there I was, derby skates on, in jeans and a tee shirt, gear free and feeling naked. I can't remember the last time I put on my skates without the rest of my protective wear. I kept touching my wrists to adjust my guards and reaching down to move my knee pads. They weren't there. Nevertheless, I made my way out onto the rink and met my friend who began to teach me the basics.

Rule #1 - Your foot should hit the floor on the beat of the song.
Easy enough I thought, but at this point, I'm not really doing it with any sort of rhythm, I'm just taking steps up and down. In the midst of all of the lithe skaters, lifting their feet from side to side, front to back as if they were being pulled on strings, I looked more like the tinman trying to take one step. If only I could blow smoke out of my head like him then maybe no one would notice my feet. Hopefully next time my lifts and my steps will flow a little better.

Rule # 2 - Don't squat down or stick your butt out around the turns.
Easier said than done. I've trained my body for over a year to teach it how to get low, stay low and lean in on the turns. This was going to be a challenge. Ok not as bad as I thought, but I had to keep telling myself "don't squat". I'm a pretty good listener, so it worked out better than I thought.

Rule #3 - Don't look at your feet
This one was easiest of all, especially when I wanted to watch everyone else's feet to see what they were doing. Though I'm pretty sure I shouldn't have been looking down at all. Ok, next time.

To sum it all up, I may not have as much rhythm as the other skaters, but feel like in a very short period of time, I learned quite a bit. It helps when you have a good teacher! I also realized that working on some of the simple steps will actually help me with derby. Lifting my feet more, not looking down and becoming more agile, are definitely skills that can move from jam skating to jamming. The only real problem I came across was my urge to sprint. I couldn't wait to squat down and speed around those corners and from time to time, when my teacher wasn't looking, that's just what I did. Shhh don't tell! Some habits are just too hard to break.

Can't wait for lesson 2!


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