An enormously popular activity in the '90s, rollerblading is rapidly rolling back into style, and for good reason. At the start of the pandemic, the brand Rollerblade saw a huge uptick in sales for skates, and the demand continues to this day. "The top benefit [of rollerblading] is exercise in ways that are fun, soul-filling, and mental health-enhancing," says Trish Alexander, executive director at Skate Journeys, a nonprofit whose mission is to teach and transform lives through inline and roller skating. "We have more students now than we can possibly teach, so we're working on certifying as many qualified instructors as possible," Alexander adds, reiterating the recent rise in rollerblading.
From improving posture, to burning approximately 300 calories per hour, and getting you outside to breathe fresh air, it's proven that this fun outdoor sport is incredibly beneficial to your mind and body. Plus, a solid pair of inline skates starts at only $180. "Rollerblades cost a lot less than a bike," says Kim Brown, recreational inline skater. "You can easily do 10 or more miles and still make it to local destinations in the summer." They're portable, too. "Similarly, you can carry your blades with you, meaning you don't have to worry about someone stealing them." Plus, the sport is very easy to add to your daily routine. But before we go further, let's get to the basics.
Fun fact: The sport you think of when you hear "rollerblading" is formally called inline skating. Rollerblade is a registered trademark and the industry leader that started it all decades ago-hence why many people use the brand name generally when talking about the activity itself (a good analogy to this would be Kleenex, which is actually a brand of tissues, or Band-Aid, which is really a brand of first-aid bandages). So, technically, it's referred to as inline skating or skating. How do inline skates differ from roller skates? The positioning of the wheels is the primary difference. Inline skates have one central frame and a line of wheels, whereas roller skates have two horizontal rows.
5 healthy benefits of roller-skating and inline skating
Those who skate regularly can attest to its amazing positive effects. Trina Albus of Santa Monica, Calif., has been rollerblading for over 30 years, year-round. She grew up in the Detroit area where ice hockey reins, and her dad was an avid ice skater and hockey player, and loved to rollerblade during the summer months. "One day when in high school, I tried on my dad's Rollerblades, and although they were way too big, I instantly loved it and was hooked from that day forward," she reminisces. "I loved how the single blade of wheels on each foot mimicked the feeling of gliding across the ice while wearing ice skates."
Anna Zuver, a skater, massage therapist and Rollerblade brand ambassador uses skating to get exercise, connect with a one-of-a-kind community, and decompress mentally. John Gardner, NASM certified personal trainer and the CEO and co-founder of Kickoff shares the top five physical benefits of inline skating.
Improves Posture: Requires good posture to maintain balance and it slowly works on the muscles that improve posture.
Builds Muscle: Targets more muscles such as lower-back muscles, hips, glutes, and upper leg muscles.
Improves Balance and Coordination: Because you engage your core and lower back muscles in order to skate, it really improves overall balance, stability and coordination.
Strengthens Core and Lower Back Muscles: By engaging the core and lower back muscles in order to get the balance required to skate, the muscles are really developed.
Great Cardio Workout: Can be equivalent to jogging or a brisk walk when it comes to aerobic exercise.
Never skated before? Here's how to start
Check out dedicated 'how to' resources and videos online. No surprise that Rollerblade has awesome resources for beginners.
Buy a pair. The top skate brands to check out are SEBA & FR, Rollerblade, and K2. Three great blades for beginners are the Macroblade 80 ABT, Zetrablade, and Advantage Pro XT, according to Rollerblade product and marketing manager, Tom Hyser.
Invest in high-quality skates-it matters! Expect to spend a minimum of $180. "Once you buy the set up, you can skate for a few years," says Alexander. "So invest early in high quality and keep them for a long time."
Safety tips and pointers
Safety first! Albus emphasizes that beginners wear a helmet, wrist guards, and knee guards.
Add it to your daily routine. "Like running you can do it right out your front door, so it's easy to add to your daily routine," shares Alexander.
Consider wearing a whistle on busy paths. "I've started wearing a whistle around my neck, and in busy areas, I'll keep the whistle in my mouth ready to use it to warn people I'm approaching," says Albus. "I use my whistle all the time and have found it to be the most effective way to have a safe blade."
Learn with a friend. Inline skating is a wonderful sport to partake in with friends and family. A bonus benefit is the community aspect. "Skaters are an inclusive group," Alexander shares. "They are all looking for events to create or join and there has never been a better time to take it up-you'll make so many friends."