Talk to me about ice skating lessons for adults
August 6, 2017 7:08 PM   Subscribe

I'm considering taking ice skating lessons. I'm 50. What do I need to know?

So i did a bit of figure skating when I was a young kid. I can still: skate, generally speaking; skate backwards (more easily than frontwards, for some reason); do crossovers, kinda. I'm searching for exercise I enjoy and it occured to me that I might like this, and there's a rink in a convenient location. I know they offer adult beginner figure skating lessons, but I know basically nothing else. So what do I need to know?

I imagine one success factor in this endeavor is probably purchasing my own skates, to get away from the horrible rental skates. What else might I need to purchase? What don't I know?

My goal: if I end up enjoying it, to get to a point where I can skate comfortably enough that I can go to the rink and get some cardio exercise when it's too hot to exercise outside. Right now I can kind of do that...but the aforementioned rental skates are so profoundly uncomfortable, and also my form is pretty bad. I think taking lessons would re-teach me the proper way to skate, so I don't hurt my back.

posted by BlahLaLa to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Get silk sock liners and wear them instead of socks inside the skates. You'll be plenty warm, and they will help you "feel" the ice and also offer better circulation.

Absolutely go to a skate shop and get the best beginner skates you can afford. You probably know that you'll need blade covers ("soakers") and blade guards. If you wear glasses you might want the tight elastic eyeglass holders. I used them so that my glasses wouldn't go flying when I fell.

I also am much better at skating backward than forward and was even for that reason recruited by my instructor to help with a kids' program. I can't figure out why I'm better going backwards; it seems counter-intuitive.

Good luck and have fun! I learned at age 33. I miss it so much.
posted by jgirl at 7:20 PM on August 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

You sound like you have a good base in ice skating so here are just some thoughts from a 29 year old who was never that good at ice skating even in my youth.
- falling was a lot scarier than I anticipated. Not that big of a deal but getting up is definitely different than at 10 or 18. Relearn to fall properly
- consider wrist guards (or knee pads?) a bad fall can really put you out of commission for a long time
- my back hurt a lot from wobbling back and forth trying to get my balance and I actually have a decent core and back.

Hope these things help!
posted by raccoon409 at 7:22 PM on August 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

As someone slightly older who still occasionally ice skates but still plays roller hockey about 10 times a year, I say GO FOR IT. I think lessons are a great idea if you are trying to regain some form. I would take the first lesson in rentals and if you like and trust the instructor, ask them for advice on buying the proper pair of skates. Skates fit differently. I can speak to hockey skates, but I assume figure skates vary widely as well. I also think you need to decide things like what you will be wearing on your feet in the boot. I happen to skate barefoot inside my hockey and roller blades. Fit is much different than when I put on a pair of socks. I add that it takes some time to break in a new pair of skates.

Other than some lessons and good skates that fit, you will figure out over time what you like to wear to be comfortable. I think you will also find what public sessions are more crowded than others, which ones have the wild younguns skating in an out, which ones seem to favor the figure skater, etc.
posted by AugustWest at 7:22 PM on August 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Seconding wrist guards. I was a reasonably good skater as a kid and still skate now (at 30). As a kid I fell out of a lot of jumps and hopped right back up; as an adult I've both sprained and broken my wrist from, like, wimpy tripping-on-the-ice falls. Wrist guards.

My rink has loads of adult skaters, including one 80-year-old woman who's working on her sit spin and loop! You'll love it. Lots of the adult skaters at my rink do ice dance rather than freestyle lessons, which is a great option if you have access to it.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 7:45 PM on August 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

Yes to knee pads!!! I can't imagine not having them thinking back on the difference they made.

A little boy walked up to me one day during resurfacing and said, "I think you should get knee pads. I have them and they've really helped me a lot." So confident and mature!

As to wrist guards, I got them but my instructor disapproved. She (a former World Team member) felt that they could cause a worse injury than they'd be protecting against. I can see her point.
posted by jgirl at 8:07 PM on August 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Yes, definitely take group lessons! They will split you up by ability at the beginning. I started taking lessons last year at age 24, after skating for fun as a kid but never learning anything beyond "forward," and I love it. You can get reasonable beginner skates for around $100 and they'll last you through basic skills (everything up to freestyle). Definitely get off rental skates, but get your skates from a pro shop or on advice from an instructor; don't just order a random pair from Amazon. +1 to knee and elbow pads, too--you will skate better if you're not afraid of hurting yourself.
posted by serelliya at 8:19 PM on August 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Yes so very much to your own skates, but take huge care getting a comfortable fit. One bit that seems unspoken is that anyone buying figure skates is assumed to be knowledgeable 'pro' and the fit for serious jumps is very tight. I think they assume incredibly strong feet. Definitely should be totally snug but try the different brands with much patience. Also take care about lacing and find a sharpener that will be consistent.
posted by sammyo at 8:26 PM on August 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

I did it when I was 39. Never ice skated before, but spent my youth at a roller skating parties because that's all there was to do in my small town. Decided to take private lessons at an ice rink; the lessons were so cheap I actually paid the teacher more than he asked. I skated in rented figure skates – it is surprisingly hard to buy figure skates for men in Southern California. (I probably should have just learned in hockey skates, but that was the instructor's choice, not mine.) Anyway, sometimes the rental skates were fine and sometimes they sucked, so if you don't mind spending the money to buy your own, that's the way to go.

I felt pretty nervous in the weeks leading up to the lessons, but it was an incredibly positive experience. A++++ excellent life choice, would recommend. And remember to keep your knees slightly bent!
posted by roger ackroyd at 9:49 PM on August 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

My advice is to actually wait to buy skates. Beginners almost always buy skates that are not a good fit, usually too loose. Try a rental - try several different rentals until you find one you like and remember that exact pair. Once you have a couple of months in skate lessons, then think about buying skates. And, yes, do a group lesson. Suffering is better in groups.
posted by Foam Pants at 10:26 PM on August 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

There is so much territory between universally-horrible rental skates and really great figure skates (mine were $1200 back in 1999!). A $100-200 starter pair will be totally worth it; you can get spendy later if you decide you're really into it, and at that point you'll be better equipped to choose the right skates. Break-in tip: They should feel too tight at first. Get blade guards so that you can walk around in them, then take them home, put on a pair of wet socks, and wear them around the house for a couple of hours. Repeat a few times. This will save you weeks of breaking them in on the ice. Oh, and buy some cotton laces. Affordable skates almost always come with crappy nylon ones.

At your first lesson you should learn how to fall properly. A good instructor should teach this, especially to adults. People generally try to catch themselves with hands or flail wildly trying to stay upright. Don't; both are great ways to get injured. Any time you feel unstable, bend your knees. It will stabilize you, and if you still fall, you won't fall nearly as far, and you'll fall on your butt which is the safest option.
posted by xylothek at 4:22 AM on August 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

One thing that tends to be different in rental skates versus proper figure skates is the toe pick - rental skates will often have it shaved off completely or half-shaved off. You can still learn to skate with rentals, but you won't really learn to "figure skate" if that makes sense. The foot positions are different and your how you center your weight is different. If you are confident that you will keep up skating as a hobby and want to learn how to figure skate, then get a pair of your own skates. You can get decent skates for $100-$300 for sure.

Figure skates are WAY more comfortable now then back in the day, and you can also ask to get the toes and the ankles "popped" out, which basically breaks them in for you. I would wear nylons or something like that on your feet because slightly slippery materials make it easier to get your foot in and out. The fit should be pretty tight.

Seconding goodbywaffles that ice dance may be a good option for you - less likelihood of spills and trips, and a great way to learn deep edges and how to skate with grace (full disclosure - I will a competitively ice dancer in my younger days, so I am biased :)).

Have fun - skating is a wonderful sport!
posted by just_ducky at 9:41 AM on August 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks for all the advice! I went to an open skate at first, just to see if my imagined interest was real, and it was. And then I set about looking to purchase a pair of beginner skates of my own -- which is surprisingly difficult in Southern California where skate shops are few and far between. I did purchase a pair, but it definitely wasn't a situation of "try all the kinds and see which you like best." It was: here's the 1 pair we stock. But they seem fine for beginning.

And I went to my first lesson last night. I'm the oldest in the adult beginners, but it was good fun, good exercise, definitely worked up a sweat, and I'm really looking forward to continuing.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:28 AM on September 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

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