The Gym Alternative is a series that focuses on becoming fitter outside of treadmills and pumping iron.
With its inclusion as a sport in the Tokyo 2021 Olympics, skateboarding can be considered far from a dead sport. What was once started in the early 1960s as a tarmac alternative for surfing has since turned into a worldwide phenomenon. Names like Tony Hawk and Rodney Mullen are common even outside of skating fraternities.
In India, skateboarding had always been under wraps until the building of the first skate park in 2003. This was done by Nick Smith, a pro-skater from the UK who is the go-to name for India's skateboarding revolution. Since then, there are over 11 skate parks spread across the country in cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Goa, Ranchi, and more. Most cities with access to skateparks have built an underground community of people who admire the sport and practice it consistently.
Skateboarding can be defined as a sport, recreational activity, or a form of artistic expression. It is associated with freestyle BMX due to the common use of skate parks by both. However, they vary as you cannot perform an Ollie on a BMX. It has also come under the influence of hip-hop, reggae, and rock, which further popularized the sport.
However, many people fail to realize how skating is the perfect way to get fit and learn a few tricks. Here are some ways how skating helps develop fitness.
The most obvious factor of fitness involved in skateboarding is balance. This means a strong core is essential for starting in skateboarding. The core is a group of muscles involving the abdominal muscles (abs), obliques, and lower back. Having a core can help in proper weight management and balance. The core is the basic element to fitness in skateboarding, as you cannot skate without balance. However, skaters might opt to practice static strength, which is holding muscles under tension for a certain duration. This is because skating does not necessarily involve the full range of motion for the core. While some may simply be born with good balance, it can be developed and trained with regular exercise and practice.
A lot of skating relies on practicing movement over and over. Once you have mastered movement and balance on the skateboard, it is time to learn ollies and kickflips. However, you must keep in mind that the human body was not meant for skateboarding. A lot of tricks involve high impact on joints which is where strength training comes in. Developing good connective tissue and muscle strength can help in minimizing injuries caused by landing impact. Skating strengthens the hip flexors and the core and will push you to do strength training for better strength and muscle health throughout the body.
However, wearing safety gear while skateboarding is important to avoid injuries that are out of your control.
Cardio is a no-brainer. A majority of skateboarding involves pushing a board around for a moderate or long duration. Regular practice can help improve cardio immensely. According to MyFitnessPal, skateboarding is listed as an activity that can burn over 400 calories an hour! Though some may prefer running, recreational skateboarding can minimize the impact on the joints and still help you get your cardio done.
Many might be discouraged from skateboarding due to lack of balance or fear of falling off as listed earlier. However, injuries are common in most sports and even in something as basic as cycling. Skateboarding can help you overcome the fear of falling and a progression to doing basic grinds and ollies can help improve confidence. Being constantly aware of your surroundings and present in the moment when performing a trick also tests your mental strength. An endorphin boost at the end of every workout is normal. But skateboarding is a fun activity in itself that can result in a better mood and overall well-being.
Skateboarding has come under the misconception of rebellion. Many accuse skaters of being vandals as tricks performed in public have been lead to property damage. However, every skate park has a community that encourages people to take up skating. Mentors can help out learning the basics or advanced moves and the social connection can do wonders after a stressful day. Making friends is easy and it also makes the activity more fun. At one time, this is a sport with over 10 million active skaters, so a friendly community can do wonders for your skateboarding journey, physical and mental health.
Skateboarding is the perfect way to become fitter in a fun way. The community aspect and mental health benefits make it a great way to de-stress. The physical benefits positively impact health and total fitness. Finding balance between a barbell is easy until you have tried skateboarding. Netflix's upcoming Skater Girl is a perfect example of how rolling the concrete tides can develop a community.