The ideal skating surface is smooth and flat. But, you don’t need to resurface an area just for skating. “You don’t necessarily need perfect pavement because, in real life, skaters will encounter all types of terrain. It hones better skills to be able to skate on different surfaces,” says Jack Murphy, president of Power Rollers. “Although one of the primary reasons people like to skate is because they can do it outside, we have conducted many clinics indoors on basketball and racquetball courts.”
For two years, Crunch Fitness in New York City has had in-line skating on its class schedules, both outside and indoors. “Our instructors are IISA-certified and there’s is the only insurance policy we use,” says president Doug Levine. “We offer basic, intermediate and skate hip hop classes.” Boasting celebrity participants like Cindy Crawford and Geraldo Riviera, Levine says in-line skating is a very safe sport. “It’s not so scary to try something new. We’ve never had a problem with injuries or problems scrapping our floors with skate bolts.” When asked if heel brakes mark up his floors, he replied, “Yeah, but so what? There’s no damage, just marks. The fun our members have is worth it.” (If brake marks are a concern, manufacturers now make non-marking brakes and bolt covers to protect floors.)
Determine cost to participants and instructor wage. Crunch Fitness charges $12 a class, in a 2,000-square-foot studio. There are usually between six and 20 participants in a session with one instructor. The cost of an in-line skating group lesson is comparable to what you’d charge for an aerobics class. If you’ve contracted a skate school like Power Rollers, Murphy says you’ll negotiate a group or per-person rate. He usually charges between $12 and $18 for a 90-minute clinic. For every 10 participants, he provides one instructor. The participant will pay the club, and the club will take a percentage.
How much you charge depends on overhead expenses and instructor wages. An instructor will generally make an amount comparable to what you pay an aerobics instructor per hour. Murphy pays his instructors between $18 and $25 an hour. In a small town like Mammoth Lakes, Calif., (5,000 people), the Parks and Recreation Department hires an independent contractor who charges only $6 per person (a minimum of five people in a group) for a 75-minute lesson. The instructor takes home 80 percent. In any community, small or large, private lesson fees can be compared to private training sessions, charging whatever is considered normal for a one-hour clinic.
Equipment. Murphy and Nelms credit much of the success of their skate schools to easy access “mobile skating” trailers and vans that travel to different locations to give lessons. These vehicles are owned by the skate schools and carry from 60 to 150 pairs of skates, all different sizes for adults and kids, including all the necessary safety gear. Some even have PA and sound systems. “It’s all included in the per-person cost,” says Murphy. “Health clubs should contract a school that can provide skates and gear.” If you don’t have access to equipment that will come to you, Levine suggests working cooperatively with local retailers who are happy to rent skates for your classes. (Make sure you specifically request that safety gear be part of the deal.)
Even the best skaters fall occasionally and although there are very few reported head injuries, it is better to be safe. Always, always wear a helmet. For the many adults who have decided to learn how to skate to hang out with their kids, wearing a helmet sets the best example for children.