PHOTO: Maggie Kaiserman
Coming off of the best winter of my life, I was feeling strong--dare I say, even in shape. But I know this won't last. Magazine deadlines are looming and summer is looking like a lot of late office nights and questionable decisions. Like garlic bread for dinner. To counter this, and in hopes of going into next winter feeling even stronger than I do now, I've started a rigid training program that thankfully does not include the dreaded "sport" of running.
The 90s are back--and with that has come the resurgence of inline skating. If you think I’m joking, you don’t know me. If you think inline skating is kooky--you are absolutely correct. Now get over it. Inline skating works your glutes, your core, your quads, and improves your balance. Plus, inline skating is great for laughs! Life’s best medicine.
I was 9 years old the last time I owned a pair of inline skates, but as an adult I've found this sport to be akin to skiing for five reasons:
1. Stay out of the backseat. If you're in the backseat on skis, the worst thing that could happen to you is you end up in a TGR film. If you're in the backseat on your inline skates, you will break bones and possibly die.
2. Adrenaline! We're all familiar with the rush of skiing over a blind roller or dropping off a cliff band you probably shouldn't. Inline skating can provide the same thrill every time you try to cross a railroad track or approach a four-way intersection--it is both terrifying and exciting.
3. You can do it with friends (Editor’s note: that is, if you still have any after picking up rollerblading), but you don't have to. I don't believe in 'no friends on a powder day.' I think that's shit. There's nothing better than skiing--or skating--with your friends. On the other hand, it's just as fun to take a couple laps on the boardwalk, just you and your favorite podcast.
4. You're secretly exercising. The calorie-burning benefits of inline skating are equal to running. You can burn between 300 and 600 calories in an hour. Plus, your quads are getting jacked, which is really going to pay-off the next time you have to traverse all over Alta.
5. The end game is a cold beer. I ski for the après. I skate for après, too.
There are a surprising number of inline skate manufacturers. I've been getting out on two different pairs: K2 Skates V02 90 Boa and Rollerblades Macroblade 84 ABT. Both are soft shell skates, so there's no hard plastic and they go on more like a shoe than a ski boot--and both pairs fit true to size.
I found the K2 Skates to be a bit roomier (great for someone with a wider foot), but since it utilizes the Boa closure system I'm used to seeing on snowboard boots, it's very easy to crank down and tighten these skates comfortably. I have a lot more fit control with these skates than other traditional lace-up models with velcro.
The V02 90 Boa is from K2's fitness category of skates and uses 90mm wheels. The bigger the wheels, the faster you move, so I'd recommend this setup for an intermediate skater--or one of the rare people in the ski world with extra ego and confidence. These wheels move through gravel and terrain variations well, but they do sit a bit higher than I like--especially when I use the back brake. It's about half an inch off the ground, so I have really lean back on that skate and take my wheels off the ground. It's terrifying at first, but I got the hang of it after a Saturday morning in my garage. If you like to go fast, these are your skates--and a pricier investment pair for someone with a long skating career ahead of them.You can buy them here.
The Rollerblades I use, the Macroblade 84 ABT, offer a bit more stability. The smaller wheel size is great for beginners as is their adjustable brake system, which doesn't require me to lift my skate off the ground to engage. I just slide my break foot forward and lean into the heel, which makes me feel much more confident.
Rollerblades tighten with laces, a Velcro strap at the ankle, and a buckle at the cuff, so I don't get as much tightening power as the K2 Skates, but I also find I don't need to crank these down as much either. The fit works really well for my longer, narrow feet and the liner is extremely comfortable and form fitting. At almost half the price of K2 Skates, these Rollerblades are all about comfort--the perfect pair to throw in the back of your car for lunch-time blade brakes all summer long. You can buy yours here.