Featured Recreational / Session Rink Life

The Case for Indoor Skating

Don’t forget the roller rink.

If anything CoVID-19 has taught us, it’s that you quickly realize how much you miss something when it’s no longer there. For us, it’s the roller rink. Never in our wildest dreams could we imagine our rinks abruptly shuttered due to a pandemic. But it happened. So far, I’m told we’ve lost 6 rinks across the USA since the outbreak started.

That’s why it’s up to us to keep our rinks open and thriving. COVID19 got people outdoors, practicing social distancing. And it also accelerated the sale of outdoor gear, from skates and protective wear, to softer wheels, helmets, wrist guards and other necessities. Roller Skating suddenly started trending with a whole new crowd.

Meanwhile, roller rink operators were forced to close during their busiest time of the year. Most spent their time on rink upgrades, such as painting, floor resurfacing, restroom facelifts, knocking out walls, rearranging the space, installing new lights, and making the facilities look brand new.

And God Bless those who had to deal with Governors who didn’t understand how to classify a rink when it came time to reopen. Is a roller rink considered a fitness facility? An entertainment venue? A restaurant? Community center? And why are ice rinks open, while rinks remain closed?

In Tennessee, rink owners couldn’t get an answer from their state leaders. So, they got together in a Zoom Meeting with the Governor and pleaded their case along with a set of guidelines they promised to follow. Those rinks, along with Georgia and Texas are already open. Ohio and North Carolina are next.

Rink operators in California, have been chomping at the bit waiting to get permission to reopen with no date on the horizon. It’s been a frustrating ride for everyone.

Now that rinks are re-opening across the country, I urge you to visit one near you so we can keep them around for the future. They offer many advantages over outdoor skating, such as:

Your car is always close by. You can go for miles in a skating rink, and your car is never far away. That means you won’t be stuck 2 miles up some trail with a sprained ankle in the pouring rain or hot sun; or facing down a wild animal while wishing you were already in your car.

They’re safer. For example, there are no hills. Hills are fun when you’re 20. Then you realize how expensive a trip to the hospital is. Roller rinks provide a smooth flat surface and sweep it often. Indoor skating surfaces are free of rocks, branches, seed pods, and small sticks that can trip you up when skating outdoors.

There’s no pollen. If seasonal allergies are a problem, indoor skating is your solution. What good is skating outdoors if it leads to sneezing, coughing, or a wicked headache?

In case of injury. Let’s be honest. Roller skating, especially outdoors can be dicey at times. Who hasn’t fallen? In a skating rink someone is always close by to quickly evaluate your situation and call 911 if needed. Response time could be a lot longer out on the greenway.

The atmosphere makes it fun. Skating to a Live DJ who understands how to entertain skaters is another plus. The lights and music, along with a crowd of good skaters is something you won’t find on a bike path.

You’ll make new friends. Skating rinks are the original social media. Regardless of your age or skill level, you can always find another person who shares your love of gliding on wheels.

You’re encouraged to have fun. How many times have you seen signs outdoors stating “No roller skating”? At an indoor rink, they want you to skate and have a great time.

So, when the quarantine is finally over, don’t forget our roller rinks. Change your wheels and skate indoors.

Featured Recreational / Session Rink Life

Re-opening Roller Rinks amid the COVID-19 pandemic

While the CoVID-19 Pandemic caused sessions at roller rinks to come to a screeching halt, some states are already making plans to lift the ban on social gatherings. That means a few, like those in Georgia have re-opened again, but with caveats. Some are only allowed 25 people in the building. Most are requiring a state health inspection to ensure cleanliness and sanitizing methods are clearly enforced. And there will be changes that employees and customers will need to be aware of.

What they’re doing

When rinks were first shut down by state governments, the brass at the Roller Skating Association jumped into action to advise rinks on how to weather the storm. The majority of skating rinks are privately owned, and operate on a shoe string budget by family members. Some had already put back savings to handle such an event, like a hurricane, or major catastrophe that would close the business for a period of time. Others were caught flat-wheeled. Because of social distancing rules, and the myriad of touch surfaces that kids have their sticky fingers all over, rinks were deemed “non-essential” businesses and unable to conduct business.

RSA Executive James McMahon has the perfect experience to lead the rink operators through this. He’s a former government politico able to help rink owners navigate the Payroll Protection loans, the SBA loans, and other funding available to small business owners at very low interest rates. As of this past week’s town hall meeting, many rink operators have reported that funds have been received. That means a lot of rinks will be able to re-open when the time comes thanks to the RSA jumping into action early and guiding them through this.

Also note there are a number of renovations going on at skating facilities throughout the country. When rinks open back up, it will be like walking into a brand-new business. Floors are being refinished, carpeting installed, painting, repairs, new lighting, and sound too. It’s exciting to see the progress posted on social media. If you’re not following your favorite rink, I urge you to do so!

Operational Changes

Before skating rinks can reopen, a plan needs to be in place regarding constant cleaning and social distancing. Gone are the days of staying open all day Saturday to accommodate rink rats who hang out for 8 hours straight. Instead, the FECs will have to abide by new regulations. Expect to see more “close and clean” session lineups. An example would be: open from 12-2:30PM then clear all patrons from the building, close, and clean to reopen at 3PM until 5:30 PM. Close and clean from 5:30 to 6 and run that session for 2 hours. Skaters will have to get used to a new session lineup and plan their rink trips accordingly.

Close and clean is a good thing. For one, the building will be sparkling clean for each new session. Typically, for rinks that remain open all day, it usually looks like a bomb went off by 4PM with overflowing trash cans, and harried employees having to restock restrooms during a busy public session. Now employees can focus on cleaning the building without customer interruptions, and customers don’t have to deal with spray cleaner odors, vacuum noise, and large bags of trash being emptied in front of them.

Another plus, the parking lot will get cleared every 2 to 3 hours for a new group of customers. Rinks will find it easier to remain in compliance of social distancing, while optimizing revenue opportunities, so they can stay open for us. You can’t make a lot of money with only 25 people in the building if they won’t leave.

Also note, there will be no sharing of rental skates. All rental skates will need to be disinfected between use. Skaters will most likely be required to wear a face mask, although that could vary among state authorities. And there will be hand sanitizer stations everywhere. Don’t be surprised if drinking fountains are shut off for the time being as well.

What’s to become of the play smart soft play zones? That hasn’t yet been determined. Since they are high contact, it is likely they will remain closed for the time being. Chances are also good that moms won’t want their kids in there anymore, anyway.

Show some love

More than anything, we need to remember to thank rink operators for remaining steadfast and vigilant during this crisis. They miss us as much as we miss them. The old saying is true, “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” As our economy hits the reset button and we’re free to skate again, never forget the sacrifice rink operators made to return to business. We may see the rates go up. Do not complain! There is nothing worse than not having a rink at all to skate at. We learned that during the past 6 weeks. Pay for what you love, and show the owners some gratitude.

See you at the rink.

Featured Recreational / Session Skate-Ettiquette

Be a Rink Darling

The communications arm of Starbucks claims the coffee purveyor strives to be the “Third Place” in our life when it comes to experience. But for those who love skating indoors, their “Third Place” is the rink. Home is considered first, work second, and then the rink.  For some of us, the rink and work are tied for 2nd, since we spend most of our time there. For those lucky owners who also have a living space at the rink, It’s a 3-way tie for first.

At my Starbucks at Electric & Main, the baristas have taken time to get to know me. And I try to help them out to by being a decent guest whenever I’m in the building.

As a customer of skating rinks, I encourage you to do the same. Become a rink darling to the team. That’s one way to help the rink thrive and stay open for years to come. And your rink owner will notice and appreciate you. It takes more than showing up and paying the admission fee. Fighting, leaving a mess, or destroying property will earn you a reputation that will ban you from the rink.

Here are 7 ways to elevate your status with rink operators.

  1. Buy your skates from the rink. Do not expect a skate pro to fit you for skates, and determine the best products for your budget so you can go buy them online for less. Techs are getting wise to this and have begun charging a small fee for a fitting. That’s to discourage this practice, or at least, compensate the skate tech for their time. Nearly all will deduct the sizing fee if you buy the skates from them. Additionally, you’ll be able to get them adjusted or fixed if there are any issues with your purchase. Buy online and you’re on your own if they don’t fit right or break.

2. Clean up after yourself in the snack bar. When you’re done eating, how about removing the trash from your table and dumping it in the nearest trash can. If there are ketchup or nacho cheese drippings left behind, let someone know so it can be cleaned up quickly. Granted, the employees should be walking around taking care of wiping tables. In reality, they are slammed making food behind the snack bar for hungry skaters. Help make their job a little easier.

3. Don’t hand the DJ a long list of songs to play and expect them all (or any of them) to get played. Each session is designed for a particular crowd. Friday nights will be vastly different from family matinées or Christian music night. Some of your favorite songs may not fit into the program. Accept it. If you don’t like the music being played, ask a manager about the different sessions and plan your visits then. The DJ needs to select music that entertains the greatest number of people in the building. Party moms who shell out 100s of dollars get priority on a Saturday afternoon which is why you’ll hear more Top 40 and family-friendly tunes.

2 Male DJs in the booth at a roller rink

4. Don’t sit on arcade games or on the skate wall.

5. Leaving skates or shoes lying around in aisles can cause a tripping hazard for others. Please tuck them under a bench, or better yet, invest in a locker.  

Skates in lying around in rink aisles is dangerous!

6. If you’re renting skates, return them with the laces tucked into the boots for quads, or close up the buckles for inlines. You’ll get faster service.

7. Be an extra set of eyes for managers and employees. If you see someone carrying a baby on skates, or a fight breaking out, notify a team member immediately. You do not need to get involved, just give them a heads up.

Keeping the rink safe and clean reduces liability and increases public trust. If you’ve ever had a rink close in your hometown and lost your “3rd Place” then you understand. It takes the whole skate community to keep rinks open and show the owners you appreciate their efforts. Thanks for doing your part.

Featured Recreational / Session Rink Life

Wheel Life

Recreational / Session Rink Life

Roller Skating Rocks

Were you a rink rat in high school? Did you hang out at your local roller rink week after week? If so, then you understand why roller skating rocks. Most of us gave up skating for other interests and are starting to recall how much fun it is. Perhaps it’s attending a skating party for your child’s or grandchild’s birthday. Or you want to improve your fitness level without all the danger involved.

Here are my Top 10 reasons why roller skating rocks it at any age.

  1. It’s safe. Yes, it really is. Especially if you roller skate indoors. There are no rocks to roll over, cars to dodge, rough pavement, or the possibility of getting stranded 2 miles from your car with a thundercloud overhead. The Roller Skating Association asserts that roller skating is 5x safer than bicycling.
  2. It burns calories. Depending on how fast you skate and what you weigh, you can burn about 500 calories an hour.
  3. It’s low impact. The gliding movement is a lot easier on your joints as opposed to running or tennis. Your ankles, hips, and knees will thank you.
  4. It tones muscles. Those are weights strapped to your feet, so it’s like you’re doing cardio and weight lifting at the same time. Your butt will begin to lift.
  5. Improves balance. Can you stand on one foot for very long? This is what keeps us upright and prevents falling in later years. Skating is the perfect activity to maintain posture and balance through the senior years.
  6. It feels good doing it. Feeling the wind in your hair makes you feel like you’re flying. Remembering how to skate backwards and do tricks: priceless.
  7. It improves your mood. An increased heart rate and fitness program boosts endorphin and serotonin levels.
  8. It’s an enjoyable activity you can stick with. When you look forward to skating every week, it becomes a fitness and social routine.
  9. You can skate at any age. I have skated alongside 80 year olds and 2 year olds. Roller skating is one of the few activities that can be shared across generations as a family activity you can all do together. Not only that, you can impress your kids because you may be a better skater than them.
  10. It’s a great value. Skating prices are a bargain when you compare it to snow skiing or a monthly gym pass. With roller skating, you only pay for the sessions you attend.

If you skated when you were younger, and then took a 20 year break, you’re not alone! We launched to keep you in the know about recreational roller skating.