A workout on wheels: The benefits and fun of Roll Train

A workout on wheels: The benefits and fun of Roll Train

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- “Keep rollin' and keep safe” is the message during this pandemic from Roll Train, a Milwaukee roller dance class for exercise and fun.  While classes are temporarily suspended, instructors are staying connected by offering Facebook tutorials highlighting at-home roller skating drills. 

But before the pandemic took effect Kim Shine hopped on board.

There’s no judgment in this space.

Because balancing on four wheels isn’t necessarily easy.

Melinda Jimenez has skated, on and off, her whole life but she’s still learning things here.

“They taught me like all this new stuff I never I've never done any of this before so anybody can learn it, it's a lot of fun," Jimenez said.

In Milwaukee, Roll Train is building a different kind of community.

Ellen Fine founded the group about eight years ago after learning the skill herself, and taking a skating trip to San Francisco.

“I just decided that I wish everybody could experience what I experienced and that it wasn’t always possible to go out there on their own and try to learn it," Fine said.

But she also knew learning at a rink, with more experienced skaters, could be intimidating. So, she created smaller classes with a focus on fitness.

“I was really intimidated when I first started," participant Michael McAfee said.

McAfee has skated with Roll Train for more than two years.

“The most I like about it is, I can get exercise and then really think about it. Also, like, really good brain cleansing. Forget about a lot of other stuff," he said.

"Yeah I'm sweating right now so it's like, yeah, you don't even expect it, you're just having so much fun and before you know it, you are sweating," Jimenez said. "Yeah, you'll be sore initially but you get over that. It's a total workout though.”

Right now, classes are taught in a quaint spot on Milwaukee’s South Side.

A sign on the door, at 719 s. Fifth Street, leads you downstairs.

You’ll hear the music from there.

“You become addicted to it once you start it," said Terrance Clarke, Roll Train’s co-creator and Fine’s co-teacher.

He’s been on wheels since he was 16.

"We call it the escape button, you know, because it's a good exercise, and it's fun, it's not like going to the gym where you're grinding and working out and you can't wait to leave," he added.

Together, Clarke and Fine lead the way for all levels of skaters.

Their weekly classes go from beginner – where you’ll learn basic movements and balance – to intermediate and advanced.

Take it from 12-year-old Jocelyn Maciejewski. After more than a year here, she glides like a pro.

“They're just fun to learn from you get to be in a lot of routines and practices and performances, and a lot of parties, and it's just really fun to roller skate, and know all these dances," Maciejewski said.

Private sessions are available, but those students are encouraged to join the group when they’re ready.

"There will always be someone who was a beginner because every single person was a beginner except for maybe two, who will come over and go you know I used to have trouble with this move," Fine said. "So they get me, they get Terrence, and then they get at least eight other people who were where they were a while ago."

“I like I've made so many new friends, at 51, which I just thought I was done with that," Jimenez said. “I just knew they were my people and I went and I found them and I finally went to take a class by myself.”

Aside from fitness and fun, Roll Train is really about the love of skating culture.

Fine and Clarke say there’s definitely a scene in Milwaukee, and it has a lot of room to grow.

“It's good but it’s hard because we only have two days to skate here, which is Wednesday nights for adults skating, Wednesday night and Sunday night. If you go to Chicago, they can skate every single night," Clarke said.

For these folks, skating has added a creative outlet to their lives one that about forgetting your troubles, opening yourself to the rink and gaining family.

“You can't be thinking about your problems," Fine said. "You can't be thinking about your bills, you can't be thinking about work, because you're on wheels and you got to be thinking about that so before you know it, you've exercise you've relaxed your mind and you're singing in your car."

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