“Any professional skate school or program will require, with no exception, that students wear a helmet and wrist guards. Most will require full armor — helmet, wrist guards, elbow and knee pads,” says Chris Morris, president of Southern California’s in-line skating operation, the Blade School. Morris’ IISA-certified instructors have taught more than 4,100 people to skate through parks and recreation departments, colleges, universities and health clubs.
“A person can be a great skater with no knowledge of how people learn,” Morris says.” IISA-certified instructors are well-trained at how to teach. It’s important to provide a safe first experience. And then to follow up with a logical progression of lesson content.”
Pehar agrees the most important concern from a health club perspective is safety. “Blade School instructors have developed a reputation with our members of being safe and professional. They are all certified and care about the image of safety. A positive image is necessary for the sport to grow. So much so, that if a member who signs up for a session does not have a helmet (they are given session instructions prior to the event to bring a helmet), he doesn’t participate. It’s that simple.”
Gathering momentum in the fitness industry
Last October, IDEA, The International Association for Fitness Professionals, offered in-line skating sessions to determine interest among fitness professionals. According to Jill Flyckt, education manager at IDEA, the skating classes were the first to sell out of more than 60 sessions. “With such an overwhelming response, IDEA has decided to continue in that direction of offering other fitness options like in-line skating,” Flyckt said. Ten in-line skating sessions are scheduled this June at the IDEA International Convention in Las Vegas. An IISA Instructor Certification will take place the weekend before the convention.
In the last couple of months, I have received phone calls from individuals and companies in the process of developing complete “health club packages” for implementing in-line skating programs. These packages include everything from new products to safety and educational programming to computer software. It is difficult to project where and how far the in-line skating phenomenon will go in the health club industry. One thing is for sure, though. The sport of in-line skating is not a passing trend. It is a popular cross-training option for those who are already fit. Even more important, as the word gets out that it is a safe sport, it is an option to get those who are less active to discover fitness.
As the fastest growing sport in the country (including roller-hockey), the time is now to recognize the longevity and value of in-line skating programming. McPherson’s feels her initial “hunch” to offer in-line skating has opened another door to retain and attract new members. “Either we are dealing with an educated public who is looking for a variety of activities, or a less active market who desperately needs options to discover that fitness can be fun,” says McPherson.
“As fitness educators, we should promote not just ‘come to my club’ and that’s it; rather, ‘do strength training in my club, then go for a two-hour in-line skate, then tomorrow come back into the club and do an aerobics class.’
To explore the possibility of implementing in-line skating in your facility, answer all insurance questions as outlined by Meyers, then prepare a proposal using this article and information from the other listed sources. Use your proposal as a tool to educate those who have the authority to say “yes.”
A recent fitness study conducted by Rollerblade Inc. showed that skating has a significant impact on fitness levels, especially in the areas of cardiovascular development, lung capacity, muscular strength and weight loss.
One hour on skates consumes almost as many calories as running. Skating strengthens muscles and connective tissues surrounding the ankles, knees and hips.