1 October 2014

Putting the Fun Back into Fitness with Emma Sandall

It is not unusual for boys to come to dance and ballet technique later in life, often in their mid- to-late teens. This year I have been teaching a range of wonderful young men from many different backgrounds. What is refreshing is their determination and discipline, as well as mature understanding of themselves gained from other experiences. Rhys Johnson is such a person. And he came to dancing after beginning as a skater. 

In my neck of the woods, I have noticed skateboarding is growing in popularity. Not just with young men, but older men and younger boys and girls. Indeed, at the skate park at Bondi Beach I’ve seen kids as young as seven shooting about and climbing around the skate bowl like little pros with audiences cheering them on. Here, Rhys talks about skating and why it gives so many people so much pleasure.

Rhys skatebording

“I started skateboarding when I was eight with my brother at the local skate park in Hobart, then became more serious about it when I began high school. The sensation is a complete euphoric feeling. The ability to escape through this physical activity is like no other. It’s you, your board and your imagination. The overwhelming feeling of achievement when landing a trick is indescribable. You can push yourself extremely hard or you can just relax and have a roll. There is no pressure – it’s all you and the board.

Skating can be the best of fun at times, especially when you’re nailing tricks and having a good day. But it can lose a lot of its fun when you’re not getting your tricks or landing things cleanly or having a bad day. If you’re not having fun go home rest came back the next day and it will usually feel great again. The more you skate the better you’re going to get.

There is not so much a technique to skateboarding, more a style, a way of landing a trick or riding your skateboard that makes you look good. When you skate you want to look smooth and clean. When doing a trick you always want to land on the bolts of the skateboard which ensures consistency and it looks clean and will help prevent injury. Having a good foundation in vert and street skating will greatly help you when approaching any trick.

  • Vert skating is where you skate ramps and bowls, transitioning from a horizontal plane to a vertical plane. The tricks usually involved are grabs and or airs and stalls and grinds, usually performed on the coping of the ramp. Skate parks are usually designed to fit this style of skating. 
  • Street skating involves manoeuvres that are performed on street like obstacles, obstacles that initially have a different purpose other than skating e.g., handrails, stairs, picnic tables.
Skateboarding can be very, very dangerous and can get you seriously injured, but that’s if you’re not being smart with yourself. Injuries usually occur if you aren't completely focused and ready for the trick you’re attempting, which leads to the result of tearing muscles, ligaments, grazes and broken bones. Once you build yourself up to it, through practice and body preparation, then you have the safest way of injury prevention.”

I then asked Rhys for tips about costs, getting started and  skateparks.
“There are all types of skateboards. Short boards are great for just cruising around, nothing serious. More of a “go to the corner store get milk come home” type of board. For a whole set up (board, trucks, wheels, bearings) would cost approx $150. Street skateboards are for the core skater who wants to perform tricks. The cost for a set up is generally higher (approx $250–$350). You can get entire set ups for around $100 but these are cheaply made boards and will usually not last longer than a few weeks, paying that little bit extra is worth it as long as you take care of the board, plus you get a greater performance control from the set up. Long boards are used for long distance travel or riding really fast down streets, this has been becoming more popular recently, and for a whole set up is approx $400–$500.

The Australian skate community is continuing to expand as there are more companies willing to sponsor and support it. There is the SBA, which offers free workshops at selected skateparks. The ages range from 8-year-olds all the way to 35–40 year olds at the parks.

Anywhere you go in the world you are bound to find skaters, whether on the street or in a skatepark. The world is our playground – if you can create it you can skate it. We are universally a very supportive culture constantly celebrating skateboarding achievements.
Emma Sandall is an ex-ballerina turned fitness and health guru. She teaches and coaches dance, fitness and Pilates and writes and produces video for all things movement related. Emma runs Body Playground, a space to activate and inspire body and soul. Email: emma@bodyplayground.com.au