When Live Active told me about that skating sessions were due to begin again in time for the October holidays I, like many other men and women my age in Perth, became very excited. Images of “the end ice” over at the old Perth Ice Rink by Muirton Park were vivid in my head. Teenagers dressed in jeans and thick jumpers, my mate, Ali, wobbling about on his size 10 skates being taunted by twirling Judi (who had had lessons as a younger child). Since then I’ve not skated much; I did have a rather dramatic slide across the ice, on my back, cartoon cat style, contents of my pockets emptying as I went at Edinburgh’s Winter Wonderland. And I took out a crowd of picture perfect teenage American girls at Rockerfeller Centre in New York a couple of new year’s ago when I lost control and instinctively grabbed for the first thing to hand – turns out it was her scarf! All of that aside, I love to Skate.
Rounding up two 10 year old nieces and one 23 year old son to do photographs I headed to Dewars Ice Rink to find out if my skating, average as it was, had held up better than my yoga stretches. There are Snow Babies classes for younger children and you can often catch the talented figure skaters and curlers out practicing while enjoying your coffee in the gallery. I can only surmise that Dancing On Ice has made this sport a popular choice again – my generation were more Torvil and Dean inspired!
We were all given our skates and tottered to the ice to get going – there were penguin pals for the kids, handles on the ears and skis on the feet to offer balance to these young beginners. Cain pulled on his skates and took off and I watched, puzzled as I fought to remember taking him skating as a child. We did the occasional visit but nothing that would let him take off at ease. I got the girls going on their penguins, the staff around keen to help, and we were off.
The girls picked it up right away – because it wasn’t too busy with kids they were able to hold onto their penguins for our full hour. They loved it – they were so excited to be trying something new and couldn’t believe that they were able to skate right round the rink with no grown up help. My sister has been pressured into classes as Jenna is determined she’s going it alone. They were mesmerised by some of the more competent skaters and loved the spectacle of it all as much as the activity itself.
We all fell at some point – I felt sure this would cause tears but amazingly they just picked themselves up and got going again. I think because they saw tumbles going on around them it didn’t faze them as much as a fall outside might. I have a bruise on my knee that I’m sporting rather like a badge of honour!
But enough of the fun – what about skating as an exercise option? Well, speed skaters will burn a breathtaking 950 calories an hour! If, like me, you’re not quite there yet, you’re likely to be looking at 400 - 600 calories over an hour on the ice. Add to this the fact that your body has to work harder in colder conditions than usual and you begin to see what a great workout this can be! The slight bend in the knee that keeps you upright for longer, works those thighs continuously and I can tell you my butt was sore the next day (muscles rather than bruising – I fell forward!).
Half way through our session my son’s friend appeared – they looked exactly as we had all those years ago and I was transfixed as Martin started skating backwards, laughing I asked, “Has Martin done this before?” “Mum, Martin was a rollerblader – this is easy for him…” Suddenly I realised where Cain had found his balance and speed from - the skate park (concrete)!
So my advice is this – let go of your fear, get your child like head on and go for it! The timetable below will show you what’s available. Make the most of it and go have some fun, you’ll be so glad you did!
Some top tips!
We enjoyed a skate and swim double – on leaving the rink we headed over to the pool and spent another hour and a half in there. I don’t know about the kids but I was in bed by 10 o’clock that night! A fantastic day out for families; I have, however, called on my grown up friends for an afternoon twirl! Skating is a great workout if you get yourself in there and go for it!