What Roller Skating Taught Me

Roller skating: the quarantine hobby that turned into a passion.

Roller skating
The day I broke myself. PHOTO DANIELLA FISHMAN

Back in April, I toyed with the idea of getting roller skates. Quarantine had just started, and I had been getting recommended skating videos on Youtube for about a month. I would see the girls that posted these videos, I would engage with the community and loved how welcoming they are. In May, I decided that I would set out on this new hobby and purchased a pair of roller skates from a second-party seller on eBay. Thinking it would only be something I would do when I got bored,  I skated around my poorly paved neighborhood and fell in love. Since then, I have met friends, learned new tricks, new dances, and become so much more comfortable with myself. Had I not found rollerskating during this quarantine, my mental health would have been worse off. Roller skating gave me an outlet for all the energy I had built up from staying home. After skating for about 4 months, I have learned so much more about myself and life that I had originally anticipated. Here is what I’ve learned thanks to roller skating:

1. It’s okay to fall, it’s okay to fail.

When I first put on my skates, I mentally prepared myself to fall over and over again. It’s inevitable if you don’t think you’ll slap the pavement, you’re wrong. Getting comfortable with the idea of falling is the first step to roller skating, even before you tie up your laces. Back in May, I had only been skating for a few weeks, and I got a little too “comfortable,” I thought that as long as I didn’t do any crazy tricks, I wouldn’t hurt myself badly. That was my first mistake. My second mistake was thinking it’s okay to skate without ANY safety equipment. Long story short, 1 hour into my skating session, I’m laying sprawled out on the ground with two fractured wrists and one fractured elbow. Basically, I was out of commission for one month. But the weird thing is, I was totally fine with it. Being the klutz that I was, I was just waiting for when I broke a bone, and when I did, it was taken as a learning experience, not an excuse to cry or regret it. After recovering, I hesitated to get back on my skates. I had to relearn to be comfortable with the inevitable fall. You will fall, you will fail tricks, but that is the beauty of skating; get up, brush off your toe stops, and get back to it!

2. It’s a pretty good workout!

roller skating
Image by @musicfox by Unsplash

Before beginning my skating journey at the start of quarantine, I was an avid weightlifter. The gym was my solace, the one place I could get my mind off of stressors while making myself sweat. When quarantine came around, my safe space was closed. When I initially got roller skates, I only thought of it as a new hobby. Still, as I got more serious, I realized I was actually a really great workout! While yes, just cruising with your friends is not the same as speed skating or playing roller derby, by learning new tricks you use muscles in your legs you didn’t even know you had! After practicing certain moves over and over again, you’ll soon realize just how sweaty you are. Plus, I found that time goes by really fast when I’m skating. Because I enjoy it so much, I don’t realize that I’ve been skating for 6 hours until I’m exhausted!

3. Patience really is key.

When learning tricks, or really when learning the basics for skating, patience is one of the most important (and annoying) aspects of trying. You will most likely not land that trick the first time you try it, maybe not even the second time…or the third, but you probably will the twentieth time! Inspiration is the motivation, patience is the hurdle you need to get over when making an attempt. Without patience, you will not progress in your journey. Whether you’re trying to learn how to dance on skates, learn to jump, or even how to properly stride forward, time and patience are the only way you will learn and become comfortable with any aspect of skating. Patience also comes in the form of knowing your limits. I recently learned to skate backward, last week, I learned how to take longer strides while going backward. While at first, I felt frustrated at not learning sooner once I realized how “easy” it was, I remembered that I still had a long way to go for many, many other tricks. What will seem easy once I get more comfortable is incomprehensibly hard for me currently. Be patient with yourself, be patient with your journey, and you will learn to appreciate it more.

4. Life isn’t about looking like you know what you’re doing.

I get it. You see those girls on Instagram and TikTok looking like graceful angelic goddesses skating down the street like they own it. You’re wondering, “why don’t I look like that?.” I’ve been there, heck, I still am there! No one wants to look like a “newbie,” no one wants to fail in front of others, but the reality is, you will. Learning something new means being okay with looking like a novice. Everyone starts from somewhere, and most begin with relatively no foundation of the craft. The skater you see online was once in the same exact position as you! Personally, I see it as an inspiration to do better. When I see dancers like @anaocto on TikTok and “trick-master” @barbiepatin on Instagram, I don’t allow myself to be jealous. I’ve learned to become excited about learning the same moves. By continuing my journey and pushing myself, I grow closer to them every day.

5. Learning is what? Fundamental.

Every time you put on your skates, you learn more than just tricks. You learn to be comfortable on wheels. You learn to become comfortable with messing up a trick, and accidentally tripping in front of people. You also learn your boundaries. Given that most people don’t have access to a skate park, new quarantine-skaters have learned to use their surroundings to their advantage. I’ve gone to parks to skate, I’ve skated on poorly paved streets, sidewalks, and uprooted NYC park paths, even my own living room. You learn what terrane challenges you, what you can use to progress in your skating journey. Can you skate outside? Where can you skate when it rains? What do you do if there is a giant pot-hole coming up? New skaters have learned to adapt without skate parks, which has helped me become more comfortable with uncomfortable terrain, thus improving my ability to skate and keep my cool in the midst of tripping.

6. Risk/Reward.

https://www.tiktok.com/@kellllllllllls/video/6847373312247614726

Recently I’ve noticed myself becoming more and more comfortable with trying new tricks and moves. However, with this new-found boldness towards new tricks, comes the risk of hurting myself even more. But, this is something common with roller skating. After skating for a while, learning and perfecting moves becomes almost addictive. You begin to crave the rush of attempting and successfully landing something new! This rush, like most addictive things, only increases when the action becomes more dangerous. Trying newer trickers with greater risk of injury only feels so much better when you’ve managed to not get hurt! At least that’s how I think. The more I learn, the more I want to attempt. The feeling of finally getting a trick, or learning a new way of turning is exciting, it makes me feel awesome. I feel stability in my rollerskating abilities, and that is the coolest thing. Starting from not even knowing the proper stance, to stall on curbs, only makes me more motivated to try newer tricks I’ve been scared of, like jumps and “shooting the duck“!

7. In conclusion, the roads need paving.

Being an NYC skater, I’ve been on my fair share of roads, and I’ve come to the understanding that, wow… the roads stink! Pot-holes galore! When the COVID-19 pandemic started taking off, the vast majority of skate-parks (indoor and outdoor) had been closed. I lacked the confidence and a skating oriented friend-group to find new places. So, the easiest place for me to go was in my local neighborhood (which, unsurprisingly, was where I broke both of my arms). Finding smooth, clear pavement when being a new skater is a blessing that many newbies did not have readily available. That being said, I think it’s important to appreciate where you learn from. Learning with rough terrain, and being comfortable with it only builds your ability as a skater. That way, when you begin skating on better-paved places, skating comes more naturally to you, and you’re trauma from various cracks, and pot-holes no longer scare you later down the road. In conclusion, NYC, please fill your pot-holes.

Daniella Fishman

Contributor

Daniella is an NYC born adventurer with a love of traveling, writing, eating, and rollerskating. Dani is passionate about supporting local communities and exploring everything from bustling city life to quiet woodland retreats. There is an adventure around every corner if you open your eyes and mind to it.

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