Skating Minnesota

Forget the elliptical, I’ve found my new Minnesota summer workout: inline skating.

Sure, I used to own a pair of rollerblades, but only used them on occasion in my youth, more as short-distance recreation, à la birthday party at the roller rink. They also weren’t high quality. One time I tried them a longer distance, but had to stop at a bench, nurse my new blisters, and then take them off and walk home barefoot. It took a press release about a decade later, with an offer to try a pair of K2 fitness skates, to finally give them a try again—and I’m hooked.

Minnesota is made for runners, walkers, bikers, and skaters. The sophisticated trail system is all there, even crossing behind my back yard. But run? No thanks. Walk? Fine occasionally, but ultimately too slow for me. Biking is fun, but requires I have a bike—which is often left at the lake. So the trick has been finding the right motivation to get me out there, since gorgeous green views and (mostly) pleasant weather just wasn’t enough.

Solution: skating! It provides the thrill (quick, smooth rolling up to 10 mph) and challenge (quick, smooth rolling up to 10 mph—don’t fall!) I’m looking for, and a similiar constant forward motion I like about the elliptical. Even if you pause for a breather or slow your intensity, you’re making progress; it’s much easier to keep skating, just a little bit longer, than it is for me to keep running. Plus: I can burn upwards of 300 calories in just 30 minutes—and more, with hills. Score.

Once I strapped on my trusty knee, elbow, and wrist guards (seriously, recommended), I put on the skates and was impressed to find the boots were padded and really comfortable, secure, and reminded me of the sturdiness of ski boots.

Being able to stop is key, so I practiced that first, a few times: bend legs, get low, and extend the right leg with stopper forward, until friction slows you down. It was definitely a little uncomfortable and tricky at first, but I soon confirmed it was a really important skill to master. Once on the trails (many of which are nice blacktop), sometimes I naturally got going too fast, and just wanted to slow things down—or maybe a stroller or biker was coming, and I needed to prepare myself for a merge or pass.

There’s no question legs, glutes, hips, and core are all getting a workout, which is great. Even arms seem to be in play, what with all the balance checks and arm swinging.

In no time at all I was—cautiously—racing around the park, the wind blowing my t-shirt and hair back…working out is much more fun this way.