When making the decision to use inline skating for fitness and weight loss know what to expect. It requires total body movement. Inline skating is a FULL-BODY exercise, meaning every part of your body is involved! It requires dynamic coordination, as you are often balancing on one foot at a time. If you are concerned about your ability to do this, don’t worry! Inline skating is easy to pick up, and you’ll be surprised at the level of skill you will be able to achieve in a short time.
If you are out of your teen years, you probably remember a time when roller-blading was popular. Everyone had a pair of skates, and every town had a local skating rink! If you haven’t dusted off the skates in a while, it may be time to hit the stores to pick up a new pair. While skates haven’t been a mainstream trend in the last few years, they haven’t gone away: in fact, they’ve been improved!
Today’s skates boast wheels that are wider and more easy to balance on. Larger wheels give you a more powerful and smooth ride as you skate! However, if you’re looking for wheels to help you make clean turns, smaller wheels are your friend.
Once you have your equipment, getting started is easy. If it’s been a while, or you’re worried about being a little shaky, try getting started in your home, just standing on the skates. Tie your skates on snugly and securely—make sure they fit! After donning protective gear (yes, even while just standing in your home), stand up on the skates.
If this is your first time, or it’s been a while, try holding onto something as you try to stand up for the first time. Make sure it’s something that can support you! The back of a couch or the kitchen counter are both excellent, waist-high things to hold on to. The back of a kitchen chair is a bad idea: if you fall, it could topple down on top of you!
Once you are standing, move your feet around a bit to get used to the skates. Move them forward and back, out and in. Try bending your knees until you have reached a squat, then standing back up. If you’re feeling steady, try moving around a bit without holding on to the counter or couch. As you get more confident, take your activity outside! If you’re still shaky, pick a route along a fence—you can grab on when you need to. Or, find a local skating rink. Skating rinks are equipped with helpful hand rails all along the rim to help you gain confidence and balance.
Once you feel that you’re ready to go, keep in mind the mechanics of inline skating. Skating requires you to frequently bend your knees, often into a squat, and will require your legs to carry you. As you move, pushing each foot outward (away from the center of your body) is the best way to skate. In the beginning, you may find yourself balancing on wide legs, but this is a mistake: it actually gets HARDER to balance if you spread your legs too far! Try standing up, with softened knees, pushing your feet apart only slightly with each stride.
Though your natural instinct will be to through your arms out for balance, you actually risk falling! By bringing your arms in closer to your body, you can find your center of gravity. Tightening your abdominals as you skate and keeping your hips centered over the movement of your feet will help you to use your core to maintain posture and balance. Keep your knees softly bent—or go down into a squat if you can manage!—and avoid locking them. This will help you to adjust to any bumps, bends, or other changes in your route without falling.
Inline skating may be challenging your first few attempts, but don’t get discouraged! As a full-body workout, even practicing balance in your kitchen is kicking your muscles into gear. Every tiny gain is a huge step in changing your life! As you begin to take to inline skating, you will find that your muscles will be sore upon the conclusion of a workout. Skating often involves maintaining a squat or a semi-squat, causing your calves, quads, and glutes to burn.
You may get the desire to hunch your back to release tension along your spine, but don’t do it! Keep your back straight for optimal balance and posture. If you find that you cannot hold the position any longer, take a break: skate to a nearby handrail, fence, tree, or bench, and grab on. For an effective break, keep your muscles ready to be engaged: do not sit or lay down.
Take the pressure off of yourself by holding on to another surface while remaining in a standing position. By doing so, you keep your muscles engaged while simultaneously giving yourself a break. Take this opportunity to drink some water—even if you don’t feel thirsty, your muscles are!
Remember to maintain a proper stance while skating. A proper stance is everything: you want to work your muscles, not strain them! Think “table grip” as you position your arms. You want to keep your arms in front of you AT ALL TIMES. This is not only to help you maintain balance, but also to keep you safe in the event of a fall. Put your palms out, face down. Your elbows should be bent and held close to your sides. Your forearms should be pointed at the floor or ground.
This is a “table” stance in that you should imagine you are placing your palms on a table in front of you. Keep your hands in front constantly, and do not move them off center. If you do so, your body is going to follow them, breaking its proper stance and leading you to a likely injury. It may be tempting to pump your arms back and forth as you skate. This is a bad idea! You want to maintain balance, not throw yourself off. Pumping your arms is likely to do just that, and isn’t recommended. Remember to keep your arms as still as you possibly can, always in front, always palms-down.
As you move, keep yourself in a semi squat position. You want to pretend that you are about to sit down, pushing your buttocks area out, keeping hips in and thighs almost parallel to the ground. Your weight should constantly be held on your back wheel. This can be frightening if you are inexperienced, and you will be tempted to lean forward on the ball of your foot. Do not do this! This will break your stance and strain your muscles.
Practice your stance at home until you can balance on your back wheel by maintaining your modified squat. Breaking your stance can cause your heel to slip out from under you, leading to a fall. It is vital that you perfect your stance before hitting the pavement. As you begin to move, push down on your heel and press your foot forward. Remember to maintain a straight back! You should immediately feel your stance in your lower back muscles.
Pull your abdominal muscles in and away from the tops of the thighs. This will offer some support to your lower back as you maintain a straight trunk. You will inevitably begin to lose your balance—when this happens, your instinct will be to stand up. Wrong! Crouch lower to maintain your control of your balance. If you still can’t get control, bringing yourself lower to the ground will shorten your distance to the pavement. Instead of falling, simply sit down.
If you stand up here instead of crouching lower, you create more distance between yourself and the ground and a more intense impact when you fall. If you lose control of your steering, aim for some grass or dirt! Try running your skates in place instead of trying to stop dead. As always, bring yourself lower to the ground if you feel like you’re going to fall.
Aim to fall back, not forward—you have more cushion on your seat than on your front! Again, simply sitting down is the best way to regain control when you lose your balance completely. This way, you avoid injury and give yourself a chance to catch your breath. Remain calm at all times and remember not to panic!
Any cardiovascular exercise is going to involve a little bit of work. The benefit that inline skating has over other kinds of cardiovascular exercise is that inline skating is fun, even while you are still learning! You may “feel the burn,” but if you are feeling discouraged, take inline skating as a social opportunity. Invite some friends to the rink with you to learn as you do.
You can laugh and joke together and have a good time, even when you fall! Remember that an important part of a lifestyle change is enjoying yourself. Don’t take yourself too seriously as you learn: if you fall down in the park, don’t be afraid to laugh! As you gain skills and balance, skating will become a refreshing past time that can help you clear your head or enjoy time with friends. Even a leisurely skate can include a fresh breeze in your hair or some awesome gossip with your buddies!
Inline skating is versatile, and allows you to choose your location. Spend some time researching local bike paths and trails, and find beautiful places to skate. Whether you skate alone or in a group, your location can make all the difference!
Be sure to find paved locations, as skates are not made for trail blazing. Skating on dirt is going to cause problems, wear down your skates, and increase your chances of injury. A beautiful location gives you the chance to experience a new place, spend some time in awe of nature, and get your blood flowing. A good location is good for the soul. So get those skates, grab a trail map, and get going!