Can a 30-Year-Old Book Teach a 40-Year-Old to Ice Skate?

My brain refuses to accept the fact that the 1990s ended 21 years ago – it definitely seems like there should be only 10, doesn’t it? – and I have similar problems coming to terms with the fact that I recently entered my fifth decade of existence. … In any case, in my head I am still about the same as I was in my 20s, except for more tiredness. Or I thought so, until I strapped on a pair of rollerblades for the first time since I switched from dial-up to broadband (this was around 2003 and no, these events are probably unrelated) for the Lifehacker Fitness Challenge this month. …

I didn’t go into the details of this plan, except that I thought it would be fun to buy some new gear (see last week’s post for more on how to do this). I’ve skated a lot for over ten years, but mostly used my blades to get around when I didn’t have a car or bike (except when I skated in a circle in my driveway at 14, thinking about falling in love who did not respond to my affections; I was very deep). I have never entered this with any rigor; Aside from learning to skate in reverse, just not falling was skill enough. But just seeing if I remember how to balance 18 years, three presidential administrations, two children, and one pandemic later isn’t that hard. Luckily, my colleague Beth Skorecki, senior health editor at Lifehacker magazine, picked up this $ 50 book from a library book sale and mailed me:

If you couldn’t tell from the TMNT-ular color palette on the cover, Liz Miller published Get Rolling: A Beginner’s Guide to Roller Skating back in 1992. In the introductory part, she explains that she got into the sport by working as a tech in Silicon Valley in the summer of 1991. She was born in 1951, which means she was 40 years old (which, as you will notice, is also my age) when she wrote what she positions as an attempt to realize her “Mission of an ordinary person in the world is to tell other ordinary people about how easy, fun, rewarding and rewarding roller skating can be. ” (This also means that Liz is now 70, but I try not to think about it. And hey, as of 2019, she was still updating her figure skating website !) The book is written as a guide for beginners in figure skating. … Master the six lessons learned internally, she writes, and you can ride confidently – or at least not fall on your butt all the time. I don’t consider myself a beginner (I’m a retiring veteran!), But as I flipped through the lessons, I noticed that I never really thought about the basics. So I decided to use this book as a guide to teach me how to actually skate 30 years after I thought I had already learned.

Lesson one: learn to fall (and not fall)

Unsurprisingly, over 10 years of ice skating means I qualify as “not a beginner.” This section explains how to find balance (that is, can you stand on skates without rolling or falling), finding support (keeping your knees bent, balancing the weight on the inside of your feet), and figuring out how to move, turn, stop, and fall without hurting yourself. Everything is good here: it turns out that ice skating is very similar to cycling; Once you learn how to balance and reposition to start moving, you obviously won’t forget.

Lesson two: linked turns, glide, crossover turns, and stop.

We’re still in easy territory – mostly. This section teaches you more about the basics of ice skating, such as how to turn or weave between obstacles without lifting your legs (most inline skating is about redistributing weight to create momentum), and how to bend your knees and change position. to use the heel brake. But Miller also accounts for crossover turns, as you turn by placing one foot in front of the other while stepping across your body. It turns out that I really only knew how to do it in one direction; I could easily get my left foot to go over my right (moving in a clockwise circle), but doing the same with my right foot was uncomfortable and unnatural (the large brake on the back of the right skate did not help). Liz Miller seems to think that it should be easier for me to move counterclockwise as a right-handed person, but she is right when she points out that you need to “practice more on your awkward side for each skill so you can maintain and both. the sides of your body are trained the same. ” It turns out I’ve never been a skater with both hands, and that hasn’t naturally changed over the years of inactivity. So I’ve worked hard on this in recent weeks, rolling around in a nearby playground, exercising to get my clumsy right leg to do what I want. It was undoubtedly a learning process; I had to force myself to do something unnatural and unbalanced. I didn’t fall – yet – but I got close and I had to do this very cool hand-waving thing to keep it from happening more than once. (It also turns out that in old age you can get hurt even if you don’t fall.) I plan to keep doing the exercises until I learn, as part of the second lesson is eights, and I won’t be able to do this easily until I have mastered the crossover. twists and turns. (The rest of this tutorial — skating, squatting, picking up items as you drive by — I can already handle. Phew.)

Lesson three: turns, skating backwards

Reflecting the inconsistency of the self-taught skater, I was glad to find that most of the third lesson came easily to me. This is where Miller covers the bend, allowing you to quickly change direction while rolling in a small circle. I do this all the time – and it’s fortunate because I could never figure out how the hell to do it based on the illustrations and written instructions she supplies (extrapolating motion to text and vice versa turns out to be really tricky).

Rolling backward is really just a continuation of the turn – you use the same basic movement to orient yourself in the right direction, and then you … roll backward. Miller uses a lot of words to explain how to do this, but then again, if I couldn’t already do this, I’m not sure they would be of much help. When it comes to skates, it’s a matter of trial and error. The fact that “mistake” means a lot of falls is a good reason to play sports when you are young and malleable, but I am determined in my efforts to master the second step, which will hopefully give me the confidence that I really need. … try something new in steps four through six, but they’ll have to wait until next week.


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