We Are…Athletes

We Are…Athletes: The Importance of Cross-Training in Derby (An Interview with Little MerMadness)

The off-season is over, and the Blue Ridge Rollergirls are back at practice and ready to bout in February! Though the off-season was short, many of us hit the gym on a daily basis to make certain that we kept up our strength and endurance. Blue Ridge’s Little MerMadness, who is primarily a jammer, stepped up her game by killing it in the gym with an endurance-heavy workout. In addition to skating and working out, Madness also manages Anytime Fitness in Asheville, is a certified massage therapist, and is studying to become a personal trainer. I interviewed her to discuss her techniques and strategies for working out both in the off-season and throughout the derby year. Her positivity and enthusiasm for exercise is sure to inspire you to kick some butt of your own!


Hammer: A lot of skaters may think, “Hey, I skate three to four times a week. Isn’t that enough?” Why do you think it’s important to cross-train outside of derby practice and bouts?

Madness: Injury prevention! I can’t tell you how many times I probably should have broken a bone playing derby but didn’t because my muscles protected me. My other main reason for cross-training is to help me become a stronger and faster player on the track. Working out outside of derby allows you to focus on YOUR strengths and weaknesses as a player. Unimpressed with your endurance? Get your butt in the gym and DO SOMETHING about it. Laughing


Hammer: What is your advice to players who don’t currently cross-train but want to start?

Madness: Start small! If you have not been cross-training, do not expect to go into a gym and be some kind of superstar. Everyone starts at the bottom, and there is no shortcut to building the strength and endurance needed for derby. Like a good sturdy building, you must first start with a solid foundation. Stop by Anytime Fitness on Patton Avenue! I’d be more than happy to get you set up with an exercise program!


Hammer: During the off-season, you started an intense endurance workout. Could you give us an example of a typical non-skates workout that you do?

Madness: I’d love to! The composition of this exercise is super simple, and it’s great for anyone looking to increase her endurance. It can be done outside, on a treadmill, or even with a rowing machine. I add a dramatic increase to the incline when running on the treadmill. Here’s the breakdown:

Sprint for 1 min.

Rest for 2 min.

Repeat 6 times.

Add an additional sprint every week. So for example, if I start out with 6 sprints, the next week, I would be doing 7. Do this 2x a week for 4 weeks. You’ll definitely notice a difference.


Hammer: Many of the Blue Ridge Rollergirls train with Lyle Roberson (The PunishHer), who was voted the #1 personal trainer in the Mountain Express’s 2013 Best Of WNC. How do his workouts help with skating form and endurance?

Madness: Lyle’s workouts are extremely roller derby specific. He did a lot of research on the sport to ensure that the exercises he puts us through are going to work the muscles we use the most. He is also a huge stickler on form and will call us out if we aren’t doing the exercise correctly. Proper form = better results and less chance of injury. I owe about 80% of my success in derby to Lyle; he pushes me and the other girls to our absolute limit, and he does it with a smile on his face. I’ll never trust another trainer as much as I trust him.


Hammer: Though the Blue Ridge Rollergirls have access to Anytime Fitness, who sponsors the team, some skaters on other teams may not be able to afford a gym. What can they do to cross-train if they don’t have a lot of money or extra time?

Madness: Get outside! Look up videos on the internet! There are a MILLION different exercises you can do at home. Burpees, skaters, body squats, push-ups, sit-ups, one handed burpees, 6 count burpees, pendulum burpees… DO ALL THE BURPEES!!! Seriously though, the list goes on and on. Figure out a muscle you want to work on and look up a body weight exercise for it. 30 minutes a day, 2-3x a week is all you need to notice a difference on the track.


Hammer: What is the most important lesson that cross-training has taught you?

Madness: The most important lesson cross-training has taught me is how essential it is for my success in derby. I plan on playing for Team USA one day, and there is no way I will be able to do that unless I am also training in the gym. Yes, I know that playing and watching derby is how I learn to be a better player, but when it’s down to that final jam, and you feel so exhausted that you want to throw up… it’s that extra time in the gym that is going to allow you to find the strength to push through to the last second.


Hammer: Any final thoughts or encouragement?

Madness: Don’t be afraid to go to the gym just because you don’t know what to do in there. If it’s a good gym, there will be trainers or staff members willing to help you get started. The hardest part is just getting there! Also, don’t let soreness from a workout keep you from going back. Everyone is ALWAYS sore after trying a new workout, especially the more intense ones. The soreness will lessen if you keep up with a consistent routine. Remember to stretch!

Thank you, Madness! Everyone looks forward to seeing Madness and the rest of the Blue Ridge Rollergirls on the track February 15 at the U.S. Cellular Center in downtown Asheville.