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DailyTidings.com
  • HARD ROX

    Feel the burn

    Ashland baseball gets a lift from fitness instructor Roxanne Flynn
  • Her biceps bulge. Her calves ripple. Her abs can't be stopped.
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  • Her biceps bulge. Her calves ripple. Her abs can't be stopped.
    But a case could be made that Roxanne Flynn's strongest muscle isn't really a muscle at all. It's her voice, that raspy, sandpaper-gnarled, drill sergeant screech which seems to always be cranked to DEFCON 5, whether she's clowning around — which she does a lot — or cheering on some poor, spent soul through that last one-legged squat.
    "Where's your booty?" she belts while squat thrusting, kettlebell in tow. "You should be able to feel that."
    And they do. Oh yes, they do.
    Flynn is loud, obnoxious, funny and a little bit out of control. These are the traits that make the muscle-bound, power-packed fitness instructor — also known as Rock or Rox, for obvious reasons — a fantastic motivator and, when she has time, a valuable asset to Ashland High athletes looking to gain an edge on the playing field.
    Some of those athletes — members of the Ashland Pilots, Ashland's American Legion A team — took part in two 30-minute workouts last week following baseball practice at North Mountain Park.
    Flynn, a former police officer who's been helping people shape their bodies for 25 years, offered a more hardcore, longer version of this workout to any AHS athletes willing to endure it last fall and many sprang at the opportunity.
    Why would anybody want to subject their body to 60 minutes of kettlebell hell? Because, they say, it's worth it.
    "Her workouts are really good for baseball because they simulate a lot of things, like transferring your lower body to your upper body," Ashland Pilots pitcher Jerry Carroll said after Friday's workout. "You're so much stronger in your legs than in your arms and to transfer that power to your arms has a lot to do with baseball."
    Matt Flynn, a pitcher/infielder and Roxanne Flynn's youngest of two sons, agrees.
    "I haven't been clocked for a while," said Flynn, who threw a one-hitter for the AHS junior varsity team last spring, "but I feel like I'm throwing a lot harder and I'm getting stronger."
    Which is exactly what the workouts are supposed to do.
    On Friday, Flynn ran the Pilots through a series of moves, some requiring the use of a 10-pound kettlebell and some not, each designed to strengthen the core and improve balance, which is especially crucial for pitchers.
    One movement called for the players to balance on one leg, straighten out the other like a plank and slowly bend over at the waist.
    "Keep your back straight, belly in, weight on the heel," she implores.
    Some are better at it than others, but everyone offers their best version of Flynn's picture perfect demonstration.
    "We're doing things to help them with their speed, agility and strength — it's that kind of training," said Flynn, who leads classes at Ashland Karate Academy and can be found online at rockfitashland.wordpress.com. "They're usually about an hour, but this workout you can do in just a half-hour because the kettlebell is the only exercise you can get cardio. Because you're moving, your heart rate's going to go frickin' through the roof, and you're doing weight training, strength training at the same time. Kettlebell is the best."
    Many of the moves Flynn leads the Pilots through look similar to those they put their bodies through on game days, such as swinging the bat, cutting left or right out of a fielder's stance or throwing a ball.
    "It helps them with their kinetic link," she said, "which is taking the power from the legs to your gut, to your core, to your shoulders, to your arms. It's that thrust movement."
    Though it's almost impossible to quantify exactly how much Flynn's workouts last fall helped the Ashland High varsity team the following spring, the Grizzlies did raise their team batting average to .309 from .282 the previous season, and also had a lower team ERA (3.56) and a higher slugging percentage (.405).
    "Like I was telling them, boxers do it," Flynn said. "And Tiger Woods, what does he hit with? What do you hit with when you have a baseball or a club? You hit with your legs. So you gotta figure out how to take it up. So when we do the kettlebell it's the same thing. This is all going to help them frickin' rip the ball."
    It probably already has. Nick Sanderson, who was out there Friday, batted .372 with team-high three home runs as a freshman. And Kyle Milgram, also present, batted .419 and had a 2.76 ERA.
    "I think that everyone has said that they've gotten stronger, and speed-wise all the kids have gotten faster," Flynn said. "I tested them the first time they met me and again at the end, and all of them got faster. It was pretty nice to see."
    For a list of Rock Fit Ashland classes and rates visit the website or text or call 541-621-4038.
    Joe Zavala can be reached at 541-776-4469 or jzavala@dailytidings.com.
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