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RollerStop: the Family that Rollerskates Together!

RollerStop: the Family that Rollerskates Together!
The Beginners
Its 5pm on a Sunday evening and instead of doing the usual parenting things – going through the mental checklist for school the next day, preparing dinner or thinking how soon I can realistically pack the kids off to bed - I’m creeping around Kelvin Hall, level with a 2 year old girl and her mum and being lapped by a seven year old boy who is showing off his bag of tricks – one leg, crouching down, that sort of thing. I’m a complete beginner, which is apparently quite unusual but I was too enamoured with my scrambler bike to learn when I was younger and, as it turns out, my mother considers roller skating to be on a par with base jumping so it wasn’t encouraged.

Anyway, prompted by the idea that it would be fun to learn to do something with my son where we were both beginners, we embarked on learning to skate with Rollerstop. We did our first lessons on a Wednesday evening at SWG3 which is smaller than Kelvin Hall and has pillars so you can hang on to something.

Almost immediately the difference in approaches to learning was clear. I moved slowly – SWG3 also has a concrete floor, which certainly concentrates the mind after you’ve fallen a couple of times – and used the pillars in the room to measure my progress. A threw caution to the wind and went for speed over balance - but then there’s less of him.

After a couple of lessons we decide to try out the family skate session called Shakedown at Kelvin Hall (there’s also one on a Friday evening in SWG3) and G, who turns out to have some experience of roller skating, comes along too. Initially the large space seems intimidating but the wooden floor is positively bouncy. Anyway it turns out to be fun. The music is great, mixing disco classics and current hits. The pace is pretty steady and so it feels safe. There are stewards on hand – easily identified by their non-70’s hi-vis jackets - to offer help and to impress with their flashy skates (literally) and cool moves. The highlight of the Shakedown is where children try and limbo.

It is fun to learn together. We compare notes. He thinks I’m rubbish, which makes him feel good. His verdict? “Quite scary, awesome but bend your knees.” The bottom line is that he loves it.

There are other benefits too – roller-skating definitely burns up energy. The perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

The Rusty Skater
I have not been on a set of roller skates since I was 10 years old. Even though it was appropriately enough in the 1970’s (just), I have good memories of strapping on a pair of skates and hitting the streets, sometimes literally of course. I never went to an organised ‘Roller’ event though, I just wobbled around the neighbourhood, working out which of the paving stones would definitely make you fall over, and mapping a route around the block, sometimes daringly heading out onto the road – there was a lot less traffic then – for a smoother and faster skate.

So heading off to Rollerstop on a Sunday afternoon for a ‘family shakedown’, didn’t fill me with dread, but a certain amount of caution. I am a lot bigger than when I was 10, and a bit more conscious of the damage slipping and sliding all over the place could do. Also turning up for work with a sprained wrist / broken arm / broken leg / concussion would not be treated kindly if the cause of the injury was discovered to be, not some heroic act of self sacrifice, but trying to do a fancy turn to ‘Boogie Wonderland ‘ by Earth, Wind and Fire.

On arriving at Kelvin Hall, all our roller skate needs were met by very friendly and helpful staff, “Would I like knee pads, elbow pads and wrist guards?” Yes, yes and yes please, though I did not go for the crash helmet option, but they are available for all ages that need them. The skates themselves were a good fit – though the style and colour are dependent on what they have on hand when you arrive - and are of the wheel in each corner variety not blades, blades would be a bit beyond me I think.

The music was pumping, the crowd was in full skate and it was time to get started. I’m afraid to say the Disco part was a bit lost on me the first few times I went round so hard was I concentrating on not falling over and not knocking anyone else over. Whilst I was slowly beginning to enjoy myself I had one thing that was troubling me. I asked one of the members of staff who skate around with you, helping, offering encouragement and support,

“What’s the best way to stop?”

“Aim for that.” He replied, pointing at the wall.

Keeping this advice at the forefront of my mind, I kept skating, and as the music went from Boney M to Will.i.am and on to PSY, I definitely felt that I was remembering how to do this. The technology had advanced a lot since 1979, the skates I was on now were like a F1 Ferrari compared to the Morris Minor of what I had used back then, but essentially it’s all about bending your knees, finding your centre of gravity and relaxing enough to enjoy it, which I did, thanks to the helpful staff, great atmosphere and friendly fellow skaters. If I get any better I might try doing the limbo next week.

Top Tips for Rollerstop

Book into the lessons which take place before the family sessions, even if you’ve skated before. At the very least, you’ll learn how to fall properly. And stop.

Bend your knees.

You might look like Robocop but take the protective pads on offer as part of skate hire. There are some pretty groovy gold helmets too.

Bend your knees.

Rollerstop’s Shakedowns have been very popular but due to the redevelopment of Kelvin Hall, the Sunday sessions have moved to the Outdoor Hall at Scotsoun Leisure Centre. These are popular so online booking is recommended.) In addition, the team holds skate sessions outside Glasgow – the old ice rink at the Magnum in Irvine is very popular because of its size and these take place roughly every fortnight. Check out their website www.rollerstop.co.uk or follow them on facebook for news. Also worth noting that they do birthday parties.

This feature originally appeared in Westender Magazine www.westendermagazine.com


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