Roller skates: the new set of wheels everyone's emerging from lockdown with
Roller skates have become a Londoner's favourite accessory, whether you're a Tik-Toking obsessed Gen-Zer, a school-age kid with no school or even a middle-aged parent
Maybe they've seen Ana Coto's moves on TikTok or Instagram. Or they're wellness buffs excited by the prospect of a new workout that tones the thighs, glutes and strengthens the core – all while wearing hot pants (or better yet, printed Spandex).
Some are London commuters looking for new sets of wheels so they can avoid public transportation while getting around the city, or mums looking for 15 minutes of 'me time' – and an excuse to wear knee socks again. We've also seen parents coaching their kids on roller skates, enjoying the fresh air on weekend mornings in Richmond and Battersea Parks.
Rollerskating is an aerobic workout that burns around 250 cals every 30 minutes. Plus, there's no one way to skate, from disco jamming to skate-park shredding.
We went to skating pro Obie Pearl (@obiepearl), co-founder of Play Tone, which runs skating, hula hoop and jump-rope classes, for her top tips on how to start skating. She and co-founder Tinuke (@tinukes_orbit) have Marawa's Majorettes and Starlight Express training and experience under their belts.
Throughout the month of June, Play Tone is running street skating workshops online to help you get comfortable on your wheels, including Street Skating workshops on Saturdays at 2pm, where you can learn the basic skills needed for street skating from the comfort of home. Or, join the skate parks workshop on 13 June, where you'll learn how to ramp skate.
Photo: Play Tone
Obie's top tips for roller-skating beginners
- Invest in skate protection: a good helmet, elbow, wrist, knee pads. There's a great group on Facebook called Skate Tips where people give their review of products and you can ask/ find set-up questions/ answers.
- Your key position for skating is holding a steady stance/ stagger/ lunger. Place one foot directly in front of the other, keep your knees bent and core engaged.
- Learn the three best ways to stop using your toe stop, from lunging and gliding your toe stop across the floor to a slow halt, a T-stop with your wheels, to a plough stop – this is where you push your legs into a star shape and keep your weight forward.
- When you've covered all the basics from rolling forward, stopping, falling safely, transition from forwards and back – learn how to stop backwards.
- There are a range of other skills for navigating streets like London or skate parks, from being able to step over objects, hop, and use other techniques to conquer bobbly pedestrian crossings and uneven surfaces. Learn how to spot different surfaces too! You can get really easily caught out by bouncy tarmac.
You can also integrate roller skates in your workout to build-up strength and learn how to balance – try this Skate Tone video to see what it's like.
Photo: Zach Baumann/Unsplash
Where to roller-skate around London
If you've got some moves, you can check out one of London's skateparks (which are mostly now open), from Clapham Common to Southbank.
Roller skaters and bladers can also skate on cycle routes in London's popular parks. Favourites for skaters include Hyde Park (Serpentine Road), Kensington Gardens (The Broad Walk), Regent's Park roads, Battersea Park, Richmond Park, Greenwich Park and St James' Park (on the Mall).
There used to be weekend skate meet-ups in Hyde Park and Battersea Park, like The Sunday Stroll and London Friday Night Skate; as London starts to reopen, check the website to see when these will be on again.
Marawa Rose Gold Impala Skates
Where to buy roller skates
Here are some retailers where you can find roller skates, roller blades and protective gear online, for kids and adults.
- Amazon: You'll find top brands like Rookie, SFR and Rio Roller, for kids and adults.
- Argos: Your go-to for budget inline skates for little ones. They even have Frozen print.
- John Lewis: The destination for kids' skates and helmets, you'll find Rio Roller, Stateside and SFR.
- SkateHut: Find everything you need on SkateHut – quad skates, kids' skates, inline skates – plus all the protective gear. We're just waiting to get good enough to justify a purchase of Moxi Lolly quad skates…
- Flaneurz: Super-cool French brand Flaneurz take your favourite trainers and Doc Martens and turn them into roller skates. You can also check out Hermès – the luxury brand's Savannah Dance roller skates are hi-top trainers with detachable wheels.
- Impala: Pastel, metallic, jungle print, floral… Impala's got the cutest quad skates (as well as inline skates and skateboards).
- Double Threat Skates: Get kitted out like a roller derby pro by Double Threat Skates, who provide the London Rollergirls with their footwear.
Photo: Unsplash/Jacqueline Martinez
London skating lessons for kids
There are plenty of skate camps for the kiddos to sign up to, like Zebra Skate in Clapham Common and Kensington, reopening July 2020, where your child can learn inline skating or skateboarding.
London Skate Crew in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens specialises in jam dance skating, quad skating and inline skating, as well as kids' classes.
For adults looking for that new challenge, Nordic skiing is a fun idea. Rollerski classes in Victoria Park get you ready for cross-country skiing season, on wheels. Or try the London Nordic Ski Club.
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