Special for Infobae of New York Times.
(Science Times) ; (Why Not Try)
Sometime in the mid-1990s, unifila skates were all the rage. At that time, about 17 million people skated for exercise or for fun with these types of skates. But they just so happened to go out of style and, except for a brief comeback in the 2010s, lost their turn-of-the-century “cool” appeal.
Now they are back in fashion. There’s a resurgence of skateboarders on paved roads, city sidewalks and in local parks, according to the Sports and Fitness Industries Association. Some are initiated into the sport, but for others it is a nostalgic return to the past.
Like many other outdoor sports, skating with unifilas grew in popularity during the pandemic: In May 2020, the Rollerblade company reported that it had the highest shipping month in 20 years. Although sales have since stabilized, the skates are still standing.
Christy Wiseman, a 28-year-old urban planner from Boulder, Colorado, is part of a younger generation embracing the sport. Seeing the skaters on the nearby bike lanes in late 2019, she was reminded of her childhood, she was zipping around her neighborhood on pink roller skates. So, just before the start of the pandemic, Wiseman bought her first pair of adult skates.
“I remembered the feeling of freedom and independence that I felt when skating. It was so much fun and I wanted to get some of that back,” she said.
It has real physical benefits.
Esther Goldsmith, a sports and exercise physiologist at Orreco, a London-based bioanalytics firm, says there are huge physical benefits to spicing up your fitness routine with unifila skates.
“Depending on how you skate, you can reap aerobic and anaerobic benefits,” he explained, adding that there are also many other muscles that are exercised and that does not happen with other types of sports such as running or cycling, since, for example, we put work stabilizer muscles of the abdominals and calves, as well as the inner and outer muscles of the thighs.
What sets inline skating apart from sports like hiking, running, and most types of swimming is that you move in a lateral plane instead of just back and forth. Over time, these types of functional muscles, which we use in daily life, decay if they are not challenged in this way.
“Skating makes you move your body from side to side, engages your core and improves balance,” says Goldsmith.
This exercise also trains your nervous system by asking your body to do multiple movements at once, like squatting and side-pressing (especially if you mix up your style). This is helpful in athletic and everyday activities, Goldsmith said.
This does not mean that skating is risk-free. There are falls, which are sometimes accompanied by sprains or fractures. But if you master the basic skills and protect yourself with helmets, wrist and knee pads, you can mitigate your chances of injury.
Maybe you’ll make friends.
Skating also provides a sense of community in local and organized skating clubs. One of the largest and oldest clubs is the Empire Skate Club’s Wednesday Night Skate in New York, in which up to 300 people travel between 19 and 24 kilometers of the city and when they finish, many go for a drink.
Miguel Patino, a 61-year-old executive living in Manhattan, has been skating since his youth, first on traditional skates and then on in-line skates in the early 1990s. Today he trains with a local race team, skates 2 miles a day to and from work, and regularly participates in Wednesday night rollerblading with Empire Club. According to Patino, this sport gives him great joy and a sense of freedom.
“Every time I put the skates on, it feels so natural and makes me very happy.”
You can go from basic to flashy.
While it’s tempting to just throw on a brand new pair of skates and start skating, your experience can be much better with a few basic moves and lessons, said Brittany Strachan, trainer at Wiseman and co-owner of Colorado Skate Fitness. Classes that teach basic movements like pushing off, stopping, turning and rolling can last eight weeks, she said.
“After that, you can move on to fitness-oriented classes,” Strachan said.
Arnav “Sonic” Shah, a certified skating instructor in New York, gives us these tips to get you started: “Always start on flat ground, like a basketball court, and learn how to stop first.”
And then do the following:
— Bend your knees
— Keep your back straight
— Keep your head straight and look straight ahead
— Place your hands in front of your body
— Bend and flex the ankles
— Place your feet about a fist apart
— Push sideways, not back
“Pick a distance or time that you feel comfortable with and keep going,” Shah said. “Don’t overdo it.”
Wiseman began taking private lessons to raise his skill level.
“I put a lot of energy into trying to brake and stop, so I started learning how to stop with various methods. Actually, it is the precondition for skating on roads or other public spaces”, explained the skater.
As he got better and gradually people joined his group exercise activities, Wiseman started taking a skating class where he lives to stay in shape. There he learned how to do crossovers, how to transition from skating forward to backward and vice versa, how to slide on one foot and other fundamental skills.
According to Strachan, a sample skating class is typically designed to include high-intensity interval training and may include a warm-up followed by exercise work, as well as short bursts of skating combined with strength training.