On a roll: why you should try rollerskating!

Rollerskates aren’t just a memory! Discover how donning some wheels brings fun with great fitness benefits

If you remember strapping Fisher Price skates over your shoes for a clunky circuit around the block, or ever felt the giddy rush of twirling at a rollerdisco, you’ll know that rollerskates can be serious fun. So often it’s a diversion that gets shut away in the attic with our old toys and memories – but there are lots of reasons to return to that joyful childhood pleasure.

‘It’s a social activity and a great way to meet new friends,’ says Ashley Moore, former British Men’s Rollerskating Champion. ‘I find it gives people so much confidence too. It’s a sport that’s accessible to everyone, as you can get skates that are adapted for disabilities and I’ve taught visually impaired and hearing impaired clients.’

Health benefits of rollerskating

Strengthen your whole body

You might think that skating is a walk (or roll) in the park, but for every slide you’ll experience serious body benefits. ‘It’s really a type of cross-training, because you’re improving your coordination, using your core to balance, pumping your arms and of course working your legs and glutes,’ says Ashley. ‘It’s great for building up muscle and strengthening your whole body.’

Lose weight with rollerskating

Looking to slim down? This could be the hobby for you – an hour of moderate skating burns around 300 calories, while picking up the pace can torch 600-900, depending on your weight. When you consider you burn 100 calories per mile of running (on average) and assuming you can cover four or five miles in an hour, that makes skating potentially a good calorie-burning alternative option. Gentle on joints Skating is kinder to your joints.

In-line skating causes less than 50 per cent of the impact shock to joints compared to running, according to a study from the University of Massachusetts. A hearty workout ‘Rollerskating is one of the best cardio activities there is,’ says Ashley. Even moderate skating will get your heart rate up to 140-160 beats per minute, depending on your age and fitness, according to research from the Universitat Konstantz. It’s recommended that you exercise at 55-85 per cent of your maximum heart rate for 20-30 minutes to get the most out of any cardiovascular activity. You can roughly work out your maximum safe heart rate by subtracting your age from 220.

How to start skating

‘Skating doesn’t have to cost a fortune – you can spend as much or as little as you like,’ says Ashley. ‘I’d recommend starting on a pair of skates between £40-£75, as anything cheaper is likely to be in the toy market. You will also need knee and elbow pads and a helmet. Falling is part of the fun – if you accept that, you’ll have a great time.’ After all, children find skating easier than adults because they are basically fearless, so embrace your childish side and be brave!

For beginners, Ashley recommends a sturdy four-wheeled boot (quads) over in-line skates. ‘Quads are easier as you can stand up in them, and they’re a better choice if stability is an issue. Plus the brake is at the front of the boot, so you lean forward to stop which feels easier and safer than blades, where the brake is at the back. ‘Make sure you stand up in them with your feet flat so you can check the fit. Then bend your knees and check that a gap appears at the back of your boots – you should be able to fit one or two fingers in.’

Rollerskating warm ups

Before lacing up your boots, do some basic warm-up stretches, as you would before running. ‘Warm your quads, hamstrings, calves and hips with some static stretches,’ says Ashley. Remember to cool down with some stretches at the end as well. While you can just scoot off around the garden, getting some instruction early on will help you with things like braking and turning. ‘Getting out in public when you’re a beginner might make you feel self-conscious, so I’d recommend finding a local class or club to build up your confidence,’ says Ashley. ‘But if there’s nothing near you, there are plenty of tutorials online. Once you’ve got the hang of it, there are lots of brilliant bike routes that you can use around most cities – and it’s a great form of transport as well as a sport.’

Rollerskating classes for adults

Want to master the basics? Skatefresh offer adult lessons in London and Brighton, where you’ll learn how to skate safely and leave with plenty of exercises to practise. Group sessions from £15 and private for £50.

Tutorials: There are lots of great videos on YouTube. We like Indy Jamma Jones who shares confidence-building tips as well as practical advice such as how to change your wheels.

Rollerdiscos: Get your groove on in 1970s style, as lots of leisure centres now hold rollerdiscos, so check yours out. Try Bump at the Trinity Centre, Bristol. The next event is September 7, tickets cost £10 including skate hire.

Roller derby: You might enjoy the fast-paced game of roller derby. It involves one player (a jammer) trying to travel in one direction on a circuit, while the opposing team try to block them. 

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