Yesterday, for the first time ever in my life, I went ice skating. And by “ice skating” I mean I clung on to the wall for dear life! But it’s ok, I had a lot of fun!
When my friend Natalie invited me to go ice skating, I was a little apprehensive. I mean, I’m the girl who couldn’t even stay upright on roller skates (at least the 3 or so times I tried it as a kid). But then I thought ‘I can sort-of balance now. Why not? I’ll give it a shot!’. Of course, I had no delusions that I’d be chasse-ing up and down the ice or anything…
As it often happens, the first stressful part was the clothing debate. It was bright and sunny outside, feeling more like summertime than February. What do you wear to go ice skating?!
(I decided to go with 2(!) pairs of thick thigh-high socks (got to keep those knees protected!), leggings and yoga pants on the bottom, a t-shirt and thick hoodie sweater on top. It was the right choice; I was comfortable throughout the whole time we were there.)
We rent the skates, I put them on, and just kind of balance on them there on the rubber carpet. Walking on them felt like walking on stilts but we slowly made our way to the open-session rink. We got to the doorway leading to the ice and, suddenly, it was real – I was going to try ice skating! For a second (or a few seconds or only a fraction of a second, hard to tell when your heart’s beating all fast), I considered backing out, just telling my friend that I’ll watch her from the bleachers. But no, got to get over this fear, or at least try to. “It’s ok,” I tell myself. “I’ll just stick to the walls for now.”
So I put one hand on each of the railings on the side of the door, and kind of lifted myself using only my arms’ strength until my feet were over the ice. I place one down, then the other, and kind of stood there awkwardly, afraid that any slight movement would result in my feet shooting out from beneath me. Then I realized that I can’t just be standing there blocking the doorway (and at this point I considered backing out again), so I slowly started to pull myself along the wall using both hands. “Just keep your eyes out in front, don’t look down, definitely don’t look back,” I tell myself repeatedly, slowly inching along. I am so focused on what I’m doing that I almost don’t notice all the curious looks from the other skaters (and their parents on the bleachers). Almost.
At some point I reached a small bleacher rest area and I tell my friend I need to rest (and I did! My right arm was so tired of pulling me along). Once again, I place both hands on the railing and lift myself off. Now I look back at the distance traveled – hardly 20 ft or so. “Maybe I should go back the way I came,” I muse out loud. But my friend informs me that there is only one direction of traffic. I groan inwardlly – I have to go all the way around to get out of here?!
She asks me if I’ll film her doing a couple laps, and I’m more than happy to sit on the bleachers for a little bit while she skates around the rink. I also watch the other skaters; some of them are quite good, especially what looked like a mom and her son, skating around and around together. They smiled as they skated, and it was like the cutest pas de deux ever! There’s mostly kids, pre-teens, and several adults. A pair of little boys was learning hockey drills with their coach over on one corner. Everyone was having fun! By the time my friend joins me after her laps I’m ready to get back out on the ice again.
I lift myself out onto the ice yet again, this time determined to cover more distance. Both hands on the wall still. I make a goal for myself: by the end of this session I want to be only holding on with one hand. Still, letting go with the second hand was so scary! At first I was just allowing myself to glide along (at least until it felt like my feet were getting apart from each other, then I had to pick one up and start again), still holding on with both hands. I was allowing myself to pick up speed at least. Then – I don’t even know how I worked up to it – I found myself gliding along with only one hand on the wall.
We ended up doing about 4 laps around the rink. By then end I was going a little bit faster, but still holding on with one hand. Actually, as I didn’t figure out how to propel myself forward yet, I was still pulling myself along with my right arm, but allowing myself to pick up enough speed so I could glide. It was a workout though; throughout the whole time I kept my knees bent and my core tight, just trying to lower the likelyhood of falling.
(After I came home, totally intrigued by ice skating, I looked up “How to ice skate for beginners”. The advice says you will fall and it will happen plenty. I’m so glad I didn’t read that before trying it out for myself!)
Anyway, as we had planned out our day kind of poorly, we only got to play around on the ice for about an hour. When the lady who took our payment had told us we only had an hour, I’d replied “If we last a whole hour!” LOL. But now that I’ve tiried it out I would definitely try it again, this time with more time to spare. Apparently the rink also offers one free lesson to students so they can decide if they want to sign up. After I get more comfortable just gliding around – without the wall – I think I would consider taking the free lesson. As for signing up, it’s actually pricier than ballet lessons (something like $40 to sign up (one time), $25 annual fee, $60/month for only a 1/2 hour lesson per week, or $100/month for 2 1/2 hour lessons). I think I’ll save my lesson money for ballet, but I’ll definitely try the “free skate” session again.
Speaking of ballet, I feel like the ice skating crowd and the ballet crowd may overlap (of course, this is just first impressions). Just little things like as my friend and I were walking from the parking lot towards the main doors for the rink, we saw a young girl get dropped off as well. She had her hair in a ballet bun, so I was kind of amused. Then we went in and all the girls had their hair in buns. They all looked so serious too, so focused. It was a very ballet-like vibe, I don’t know how to explain it. The fact that they were all extremely slender probably added to the illusion. But I really felt like I was observing a (serious and advanced level) ballet class. These kids were so talented, doing multiple spins and twirls or one leg, gliding along with their leg in arabesque (or whatever the ice skating equivalent of that is). We even saw when one of the teachers pulled out this type of harness that the student will wear so they can learn to do the multiple-twirls-in-the-air jumps without fear of falling (or at least that’s what this one girl was practicing with her teacher).
While we were watching the serious students practice (which was in the next rink over to the “free skate” session, after we had turned in our skates), my friend commented on how one of them looked just like a ballerina. So then I casually asked my friend “Did you ever do ballet?” She replied that she did from the time she was 4 until high school! Oh wow, I had no idea! Now I kind of wish we’d had this conversation sooner so I could have possibly invited her to take class we me at Evening Studio. My friend made a huge deal about how proud she was of me for trying something new, how at least I faced my fears and tried it. That’s when I was thinking of asking her “Do you want to try something new? There’s this place I go to on wednesdays…” Except that starting next week I’ll be superbusy with school. Well, there’s always sometime in the future, right?