The year is 2001 I’m on the brink of puberty, yearning for a shred of independence in the one-square-mile New York City suburb where I currently reside. I’m not athletic per se, but nonetheless, I’m seeking a way to escape from the particular banalities of my day, consisting largely of school, homework, and snacks (lots of snacks). I strap on my first pair of rollerblades that my mom purchased for me on a whim and—bam—I’m hooked. The rest, as they say, is history.
As we look ahead to many more months of social distancing, those of us who are fortunate enough to be working from home are likely experiencing quarantine fatigue, longing for something, anything, to improve our mood and mitigate stress. The solution is simple: skate. When I was a mere tween, rollerblading gave me the release I so desperately needed. Cruising around my neighborhood, I was beholden to no one and nothing except my helmet and knee pads. My mind was finally cleared of the angst that I was experiencing for no apparent reason. I recently pulled the trigger and upgraded with the extremely Instagrammable Impala Rollerskates and let me tell you, they brought back some delightful memories.
If you, like me, are contemplating ordering skates, you are most certainly not alone. There’s been a massive uptick in sales amid the coronavirus. “Demand has been off the charts,” says Gwenn Moen, marketing manager of Impala Rollerskates. “We’ve been hustling to keep all sizes and colors in stock.”
In addition to the influx of new customers, roller skating has proven psychological benefits.
“When you exercise and get fresh air, you’re increasing endorphins, which improve the mood and decrease stress,” says Hilary Weinstein, LCSW, a psychotherapist and anxiety specialist based in New York. “By gearing your attention to both the body and its surroundings, you can shift focus away from negative thought patterns and anxieties.” It can also have a tremendous effect on self-esteem. “Moving our bodies increases positive feelings and self-efficacy,” says New York psychotherapist Jordan Karson, LCSW. My 11-year-old self would have to agree.
Even professional roller skaters have been ramping up their routines during lockdown. Marawa Wamp, aka Marawa the Amazing, who holds several world records in high-heeled skating, has been regularly running workshops and classes on Instagram at @iwanttogotoparadise. “It’s something you can do with friends online,” she says. “Get dressed up and listen to great music without having to leave your house. You can really relax, breathe deep, and let go of tension.”
While the rest of the world attempts to distract themselves with banana bread and meditative gardening, I’ll be cheerfully roller skating, finding solace in these wild and uncertain times by bettering my physical and mental health, not to mention the added benefit of staying the hell away from everyone else. I may be nearly two decades older, but I’m wise enough to know that my activity of choice was absolutely the right one then, and still is now.
Roller skates and rollerblades to shop
Roses Pic Inline Rollerblade, $120
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