Exercise That’s Retro Fresh: Rollerblading at Alki Beach
Editor’s note: We encourage you to practice good social distancing and visit parks when they aren’t busy.
If you experienced the 1990s, there’s a decent chance that in a closet somewhere, behind your hair crimper, oversized neon sweatshirt and a crate of VHS tapes, there’s a pair of old Rollerblades that have been gathering dust for the better part of 20 years. It’s time to break out those bad boys! Inline skating is back, and it’s a great way to turn a retro throwback into a new, fun workout.
Rollerblading is good for both your cardiovascular system and muscle development. It requires a smooth, side-to-side gliding movement, which means that it works your inner thigh and butt muscles really hard. The balance and coordination required provide a mental workout, too. Lastly, as a low-impact sport, rollerblading is easy on your joints and ligaments.
One of the city’s best “glide zones” is in West Seattle on the 2.5-mile path that runs parallel to Alki Beach. Along the way, skaters can soak in views of bustling Elliott Bay, the Olympics, the downtown skyline and historic landmarks like Alki’s mini-version of the Statue of Liberty. If you don’t own skates, local vendors like Alki Kayak Tours rent skates and protective gear. If you’re looking to buy a pair, check out West Seattle’s Mountain to Sound Outfitters.
Tips for First Time Rollerbladers
To help you get started, here are a few tips for beginners.
1. Safety first! Along with your skates, make sure you rent a helmet plus knee, wrist and elbow pads.
2. Make sure your boots fit snugly. Loose footwear will make it harder to stay balanced and maintain control.
3. Lace you skates up tightly. But not so tight that you cut off circulation!
4. Practice standing up on the grass, where your wheels won’t roll. Then take gliding “steps” by gradually increasing pressure on one foot at a time. Once you master balancing on the grass, inch your way over to the paved path.
5. Don’t lock your knees. Keep them slightly bent to absorb bumps and avoid injury.
6. Anticipate when you want to brake. Move one foot forward and bend your knee slightly, applying pressure on the heel until you gradually come to a stop.
7. If you lose your balance, try to fall forward. Slide on your knee pads and wrist guards. If possible let your wrist guards hit the ground at an angle rather than straight down. If you feel yourself falling backwards, grab your knees in an attempt to bring your center of gravity forward.
8. Patience, patience, patience! Don’t rush the process and get discouraged if it takes a while to get the hang of standing up, moving and stopping. This stuff takes time. Practice, as they say, makes perfect.