Roller skating revival: Permanent facility opening at PNE Rollerland

Nov 19 2021, 8:12 pm

Made in Vancouver is a collaboration between Vancity and Daily Hive. Together, we’re turning the spotlight onto local businesses, organizations, and individuals who are helping to create a healthy local economy.


Rolla Skate Club is a community of empowered women on wheels. They use rollerskates to help women be more confident and take up space in their lives.

It’s just like a spin class, turned into a rock concert!

Vancity has been supporting people in our communities since 1946. As part of our Made in Vancouver series spotlighting local businesses, we talked to co-founders of Rolla Skate Club, Carla Smith and Lucy Croysdill about Rolla Skate Club. Learn more about what Vancity is doing in your community at vancity.com 

Co-Founders Lucy and Carla have been coaching and playing competitive roller derby internationally since 2007.

Carla left her career as an architect in 2015 to focus on her online fitness company that helped derby athletes train. Lucy founded a roller derby apparel and uniforms company called Pivotstar in 2009. They’ve both since sold their first businesses to focus full time on Rolla Skate Club.

 

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“We launched in 2018 with 150 pairs of vintage rental rollerskates. Using a 1998 former Fedex delivery truck, we brought the skates to various pop-up events and hosted outdoor classes and social rolls along the False Creek Seawall.”

They landed their indoor venue in Kerrisdale in January 2019, and quickly grew to a full-time enterprise, offering classes for adults and eventually kids, six days a week, with six coaches and two support staff.

So why rollerskating?

Lucy and Carla’s experience in roller derby revealed a very unique culture. It is body-positive, queer friendly, trans-inclusive, and intersectionally feminist. They have seen it change people’s lives profoundly, and they knew that more women should have access to this powerful experience.

“We created Rolla Skate Club to provide for this opportunity and make it accessible and approachable. Imagine a boxing gym. You wrap your hands, hit the bag, feel tough, but no one is going to come and punch you in the face, right? Same thing here – you can learn, work out, dance, and challenge yourself on skates, without the body checks. It’s recreational rollerskating, born from the spirit of roller derby.”

 

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Rolla Skate Club is the first of its kind using the group fitness business model for rollerskating. They are also the first major online rollerskating education resource and membership program.

“We wanted to find a way for more women to have the opportunity to be transformed and uplifted the way we had seen so many times in roller derby, even if they never wanted to smash into other humans in front of a roaring crowd!”

Just like Lucy and Carla teach in their rollerskating classes – it’s not about falling down, it’s about getting back up again. “Every time we fall down or stumble on our entrepreneurship journey (ahem Covid) we learn something new about ourselves, we dig deep and become stronger in the process.”

“We have 300 members at our flagship studio here in Vancouver, taking a variety of rollerskating classes, from Intro to Rollerskating, to our various skills classes in Dance, Roller Derby and more, as well as kids programs.”

“We now have nearly 600 members in every time zone on earth subscribed to our virtual memberships and learn to rollerskate programs! (Yes, you can learn and practice rollerskating in your living room!)”

 

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“Our goal is to upend the traditional women’s fitness industry, that leaves most women feeling negative about their bodies. We create space for people to be big, and take up space, and then take that feeling out into their everyday lives when they walk out our doors after class.”

Since the start of Rolla Skate Club almost three years ago, Carla and Lucy have been looking for a permanent home for their events. This December, their dream space will become a reality. Rolla Skate Club has found a permanent home at the Rollerland building at the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE).

“The history of the Building at the PNE has shifted a lot, from formerly being known as the Women’s Building to becoming the Rollerland Building in the 1970’s. So being able to settle in a space that has a history for women and of roller skating has also made it more special to bring the skating groove and community back to it.”

Rolla Skate Club is about so much more than the rollerskates. It’s about embracing new challenges at any age, it’s about choosing joy and most importantly it’s about finding your community.

For more information on how to join Rolla Skate Club, visit rollaskateclub.com

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