Playing with your friends

This slightly ambiguous title isn’t anything sexual (sorry) but it’s about taking part in a team sport. Our first guest post from Ali Bunn – or should that be Knockturn Ali?


If you read the Pleasure Forecast regularly you’ll know by now that fitness is dead important for enjoying the life you lead. Physically this is understandable – exercise releases endorphins which make you happy in the short term. In the long term regular exercise helps to control your weight and boost your energy too. There are mental benefits as well, though…

The sense of achievement when you finish a hard run or beat your record on the cross trainer is unparalleled. Perhaps it is surprising to hear that, according to the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF) 80% of women in the UK aren’t doing enough exercise to stay healthy.

Until a couple of years ago I was a part of that 80%, I didn’t do any exercise at all. A friend mentioned the Couch to 5k running programme to me. I gave it a shot and actually sort of enjoyed it. Since then I’ve had an up-and-down relationship with running. I’ve never worried about the fact that my face turns purple after 10 minutes and that I sometimes have to take my top off half way round the route just to cool down.

I love that feeling when I run all the way to the top of a hill or beat a PB, but still it isn’t something I’ve stuck at religiously. Part of the reason is that it’s a solitary sport. To share your accomplishments feels like bragging and discussing the detail of your entire run is just boring for everyone else involved.

The Derby Family

More recently I have discovered a new fitness passion, one which I can’t imagine ever giving up on. Roller Derby is a full contact team sport played predominantly by women. It’s really hard. You need to pass a set of minimum skills before you’re allowed to play in a game and it’s going to take me about 18 months in all to get to that standard, fingers crossed.

It’s a sport which is growing in popularity. Our team in Norwich sees new players joining almost every week, and it’s addictive. It’s a sport which celebrates our strengths, both physical and mental. You get knocked around and bruised and then you get right up and keep playing. At the end both teams hug and then go for a killer after party to compare bruises and brag about the biggest hits given and taken.

But who is it for?

Derby players are all ages from 18 up, with many women playing well into their 40s and 50s. There are skinny players, fat players, short and tall, muscly and bony. And you know what? No-one gets judged. There’s no bitchiness, no “you’d play better if you were thinner” or “don’t you think it’s time to retire?”

We’re not jealous of the women who do it better than us (well maybe a bit… but only in an aspirational, I want to do that kind of way) and they aren’t smug when they’re showing us ‘Fresh Meat’ how to do it all. It’s a family from day one.

I never thought I could get so much happiness from fitness, but it turns out I just hadn’t found the right sport yet. Women are discouraged from showing their aggressive and competitive sides whenever possible and playing a team sport is such a fantastic outlet for all that.

If you struggle with sticking to exercise, chances are you haven’t tried a team sport yet. Give it a go, you might just find something which truly makes you happy, right down to your soul. (Don’t tell the Derby girls I got all mushy, will you?!)

Author Bio: Knockturn Ali is fresh meat with the Norfolk Brawds Roller Derby team. While she’s not quite ‘there’ with the skating yet you’ll find her officiating at Heartland Series bouts throughout the year.

About Jess

Typically found staring at cars, taking photos, and writing things.
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