Roller skates are all over TikTok right now. Here's what to know if you're buying them for the first time.
- Over the past few months, roller skating has become trendy on social-media platforms like TikTok — so much so that skates are sold out from various retailers.
- Many cite actress and dancer Ana Coto with igniting the trend.
- Speaking to Insider, Coto and other skaters shared their tips for getting into the world of roller skating.
- Many advised finding a skating style, purchasing your own skates, and joining a local roller-skating community.
But in recent weeks, it's also become the launching pad for a new wave of roller skaters. At the time of writing, the app is home to countless videos that show people dancing, cruising, and sharing tips in colorful skates. As a result, roller-skating tutorials are on the rise, and roller skates are now sold out from numerous retailers.
To help share some tips and tricks with beginners, Insider spoke with five roller skaters about the activity. Here's what they had to say.
Roller skating has become all the rage on social media in recent weeks
Though roller-skating videos have long existed on Instagram, YouTube, and other platforms, many credit actress and dancer Ana Coto for sparking the trend on TikTok — a video of her skating to Jennifer Lopez's "Jenny from the Block" has over 1.7 million likes.
Speaking to Insider, Coto said she's been skating for three years, and credits fellow skaters like Michelle Steilen, who often goes by Estro Jen online, with helping her hone her craft.
"Estro Jen had a big part of my starting to learn how to skate because she told me that the way she got so good was by skating more than she walked," Coto said. "And that was shocking to me as a layperson. The concept of that was like, 'What? Okay I see.' So I bought a pair of skates and it all sort of happened from there."
Of course, Coto isn't the first person to post a roller-skating video online. She told Insider that she "didn't reinvent skating," and acknowledges that "there's so many other very gifted skaters out there, especially in the LGBTQIA and BIPOC communities, and they're very much underrated on TikTok right now."
"TikTok was just a new way of sharing my videos that already kind of existed, and that I'm continually making," she said. "What I'm doing isn't that different from lots of other skaters. I think maybe I just got lucky posting very TikTok-specific content."
She later added: "I think it means that I'm gonna be one of many roller skaters to blow up — and I'm not first; I'm not the first at all. But it is happening right now — maybe because of the pandemic — and I'm not going to deny that I've seen and felt the response to my videos, and I'm so overjoyed."
Beginners should first find a skating style they're interested in, and then purchase their own pair of skates
According to Coto, who describes herself as a dance and jam skater, there are "so many different niches in roller skating." That being said, beginners should first identify "what type of roller skating really calls to you."
Kamry James, who has been a roller skater for two years, agrees, and says that determining a skating niche can help you figure out which skates to buy. She specifically suggests choosing between jam skating, artistic skating, and rhythm skating.
"With artistic skates, you need a harder, leather boot that is strong enough to withstand force from jumping," she said. "Jam skates have a shorter boot that stops at the ankle to make it easier to dance in. I personally use rhythm skates that are in-between jam and artistic skates, which allows me to move freely while still having the support I need for my ankles."
Another skater, who goes by @basedquad online, said that no matter what type of shoes you purchase, "good-quality skates are so important for beginners," even if they are a little pricey. To bring the cost down, you can check secondhand shops like eBay and Poshmark, where skates are often sold.
The skater also added that skate sizes differ slightly between each brand, so you'll want to measure your feet, check if the skates run narrow, and see if they're meant for indoor or outdoor skating.
"Generally the lower the hardness/durometer of the wheels, the better the skates are for outdoor skating," @basedquad said.
Many retailers are sold out of skates at the time of writing — likely as a result of the roller-skating trend on TikTok — but shops like Moxi Skates, Planet Roller Skate, and Urban Outfitters have some styles available with delayed shipping.
You'll want to start slow, and practice falling
Indy Jamma Jones, a roller skater who makes YouTube videos and owns a skate shop, told Insider that people should always wear safety gear when skating, especially knee pads. She also says that skaters should "make falling your best trick."
"If you know how to fall and get comfortable with it, skating suddenly becomes way less intimidating," Jones said. "Inspired by a Will Smith quote I like to say, 'Fall early, fall often, fall forward.'"
Once you're protected and know how to fall, it's important to spend time learning the basics.
"When you're starting off, you're just trying to get used to being on skates, so standing around in them is half the battle," Coto told Insider. "Just getting comfortable at this is how it feels to take a step this way, take a step that way, shift my weight from right foot to left foot."
"We're talking basics that you think 'Oh I'm not doing anything,' but you are," she continued. "I swear that's how you get better. Just put the skates on your feet, take it really slowly, and try to stay calm."
You'll have to maintain your roller skates over time
Roller skater Kels Mcgriff told Insider that one of the best ways to keep your skates clean is to "avoid skating through sand and water." She also advises skaters to clean their bearings, or the steel pieces of skates that allow the wheels to spin.
Fellow skater @basedquad agreed, and said that when skates do get wet, it's important to dry them so that the hardware doesn't rust. She also added that "wheels usually need to be loosened or tightened regularly with a skate tool."
Skating with others is arguably one of the best parts of the pastime
Though many people are currently limited to skating alone inside their homes or through their neighborhoods, many skaters are hopeful that they'll soon be able to connect with each other in the real world.
In the meantime, many of them are using social media to keep in touch. James, for example, told Insider that some people are using Instagram to post daily progress photos and videos through the hashtag #365skatechallenge. Jones, on the other hand, recommends checking out roller-skating Facebook groups, like the one she runs called Planet Roller Skaters.
"Skating is social, and the community is very much alive and thriving," Jones said. "When I found skating, not only did I find myself, but I found a place where I belong with people I love."
You can also use this time to brush up on your roller-skating knowledge. As @basedquad said, each type of skating has a unique history. To learn more about the background of each kind, she recommends viewing documentaries like "United Skates" and "Roller Dreams."
Unsurprisingly, each roller skater Insider spoke with stressed the importance of supporting local roller-skating rinks. Of course, many are now closed temporarily, but the locations can still benefit from the sales of merchandise, gift cards, and future support.
"I suggest hitting up the rinks after quarantine," James said. "It might seem intimidating at first, but trust me, people are always welcoming and happy to teach new skills."Read the original article on Insider
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