We Tried Roller Dancing With Roll Train, and It Was a Blast!

It was a lesson on gravity, dancing and falling (properly) on wheels.

The last time I stood on eight wheels, I was in sixth grade, celebrating a friend’s birthday party at Skateland in Waukesha. A lot has changed since “Livin’ La Vida Loca” topped the charts, in particular my center of gravity and my definition of a good time. So when my editor asked me to check out a class at Roll Train – a local roller skating fitness class – I seriously doubted I’d make it through without some bumps and bruises. 

I visited the East Side fitness studio, above Hacienda Beer Co., on a Monday night with my friend Danielle. As we rode up the elevator, my wine-induced confidence started to plummet, and peeking in on the class that was wrapping up didn’t help. This wasn’t gliding across a roller rink beneath a spinning disco ball, holding on to the railing. This was full-blown roller dancing.

The studio is small, set up like a fitness class with big mirrors in front. Roll Bounce, a 2005 skating movie, played on a TV in the corner, where Danielle and I chatted with other skating newbies waiting for our “first-timer” lesson. Watching the more experienced class work on their routine – lots of fancy footwork and spinning in place – I understood why co-owner Ellen Fine encouraged me to sign up for the intro course. 

Terrence Clarke, the other owner, rolled over to show us around the space and give us our skates, which are free to rent with the $30 two-session intro class. Also included in the fee was a much-needed physics lesson: A squat stance, Ellen told me, would keep me stable on wheels, and I should bend down and grab my knees anytime I felt like falling.  

DO IT! First-timers can sign up for an intro class or one-on-one lessons at rolltrain.com

A few days before the class, I’d encouraged my 5-year-old son to pick up his feet on the ice outside our house to avoid slipping. Skate dancing, it turned out, required the same balance and control, so I trudged across the floor until I found my blue, taped-on X. Maybe this wouldn’t be so hard after all.  

For the majority of the hour, Ellen and Terrence showed us the ropes of skating (with way more patience than I could have). After the four of us gained some control of our skates, we worked on a simple footwork routine to LL Cool J’s “Headsprung,” and I only fell once – with no major injury to my knees or my ego. It was a full-body workout with all of my muscles flexing just to keep me on my feet and some added cardio, too – the best of both worlds – plus, it was way more fun than I expected!

Ellen says I have to come back to get the full experience, and once my abs and quads recover from the work-out, I’ll think about it. Either way, it’s safe to say my sixth-grade self would be proud (and slightly embarrassed) of my effort. 


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s May issue.

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