Upper body commuting exercise with skateboard and ski poles?
May 10, 2018 5:43 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to exercise my upper body and core. I'd like to do it during my 6km commute, which involves stairs at one point but is otherwise mostly along a flat bike trail with many stops. I'm thinking of getting some sort of skateboard, putting some sort of brakes on it, getting some sort of poles, and arm-pumping my way there. I don't want to spend too much up front in case I flake out. Thoughts/warnings/suggestions/better options?
posted by clawsoon to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Roller skiing is a thing I see people do along my local bike trail when the snow is gone, and exercises your upper body and core. Not all of them are doing it on skis; some are just wearing normal roller blades, but I don't know how that affects the upper body exercise part.

I'm also not sure how you handle the stairs - are they midway through your commute, or at either end?

Do you already know how to balance on and steer a skateboard?
posted by Pandora Kouti at 5:56 AM on May 10, 2018

Best answer: Perhaps the obvious thing is that you're not facing forward on a skateboard when both feet are on it (i.e., it's more like a snowboard than skis) so I'm not sure how you would propel yourself with two arms.

There's this, though-- longboarding with a push pole.
posted by supercres at 6:11 AM on May 10, 2018 [4 favorites]

Jog while using hand weights or carrying water bottles?
posted by exogenous at 7:24 AM on May 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

You’d be better off in a wheelchair I think.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:30 AM on May 10, 2018

I've used poles in the backcountry on a snowboard, and the combination of your feet perpendicular to your line of travel but wanting your arms to be parallel to your line of travel is awkward and exhausting in a one-sided sort of way. Rollerblades would be a better bet.
posted by craven_morhead at 7:42 AM on May 10, 2018

Response by poster: Pandora Kouti, craven_morhead: I've rollerbladed for commuting in the past. It was okay, but I didn't like the transition time in and out of walking. Having to wobble my way up and down the stairs with rollerblades on, or take them off before and put them on after the stairs, is putting me off the idea this time around. (It's the stairs or up and down a very steep hill with lots of traffic. Even with my bike, I prefer the stairs.)

supercres: "Land rowing" might be what I'm looking for. Thanks!

Let's say I go with land rowing. I have no previous skateboard experience. I have no interest in learning tricks. I do recognize that I'll have to put some learning time in.

Would any of the boards I linked be best for this? Or another board altogether?
posted by clawsoon at 7:57 AM on May 10, 2018

With roller skis you are wearing cross country ski boots usually, so you can click out of the skis and walk. Easier transition than rollerblades. Roller skis do require some skill to use beyond roller blades though and they are not as manouverable.
posted by dttocs at 8:58 AM on May 10, 2018

Honestly, it seems like riding a bike or even jogging with stops to do some pushup sets a few times along the way will be much easier/straightforward. I've skateboarded my whole life and that thing with the pole looks so uncomfortable and wrong, I just can't imagine doing that more than a few times before the novelty wears off.
posted by gyusan at 9:48 AM on May 10, 2018

Not helpful for what you're asking now but if you really get into it to the point of spending money, you might be interested in something like the StreetStrider, which is a mobile elliptical machine.
posted by barchan at 9:51 AM on May 10, 2018

Response by poster: you might be interested in something like the StreetStrider, which is a mobile elliptical machine.

Hmm, that looks interesting, too. I did have half-an-impractical notion to build something like a railway handcar, so I'm open to ideas like that as well.
posted by clawsoon at 10:08 AM on May 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

posted by macapes at 10:41 AM on May 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: macapes: I'm looking for more engagement of my core than all of the handcycles I've seen so far provide. You're not completely off-track, though, and I didn't really make that clear up-front.
posted by clawsoon at 11:08 AM on May 10, 2018

There are some pretty interesting looking adult strap on skates out there; I don't see why you couldn't use poles with those.
posted by jamjam at 11:48 AM on May 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

You want DOOPs
posted by WeekendJen at 1:31 PM on May 10, 2018

The cross country team at the university near me roller skis up my street - they are clearly getting an amazing upper body workout. Being able to switch between skate skiing and classic also seems like a bonus in terms of diversity of leg muscles used.
posted by lab.beetle at 3:12 PM on May 10, 2018

Flaneurz Rollerskate shoes. Skate, trucks come off while you work, trucks go back on when you go home.
posted by rocket at 5:53 AM on May 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Interesting strap-on skate ideas. Those Flaneurz would be perfect! (...if it wasn't for the price tag.) A couple of others I've found, in case anybody comes looking:

VNO Quads - still in R+D, but something this minimal would be great if it worked.
posted by clawsoon at 9:20 AM on May 11, 2018

Response by poster: After waiting a month for the skateboard and handle to arrive, and then practising basic stability for a couple of weeks on the hardwood floor in my condo, I tried out supercres' longboard paddling suggestion for my commute for the first time today. I made it about 1.5km before my muscles got too weak to safely maintain my stability, so I hopped on the streetcar for the rest of the trip. I'd consider it a success-ish.

A follow-up question: Should I tighten up my trucks? So far I've followed what appears to be the standard Internet advice to keep my trucks just a little tighter than wobbly. I find it tiring to control. Would I be better off leaving them relatively loose so that my control has an opportunity to develop, or tightening them up so that I have better stability right now while paddling?
posted by clawsoon at 8:10 AM on June 18, 2018

If your board were roller skates, my suggestion would be that if it feels overly turn-y, or feels like you're riding a shopping cart with flappy front wheels, start by tightening each kingpin nut all the way down, then backing each out a full turn. Skate on it and try to turn. If it's really hard to turn (it should be, at that tightness), back out each nut a half-turn until it starts to turn smoothly. If it gets too wobbly going straight, tighten each back a quarter-turn until you hit a good spot for you. Once you've had the board for a while, adjust to taste.

Not sure how closely board trucks mirror skate trucks, but the structure is very similar.
posted by rocket at 11:49 AM on June 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Tightening up the trucks helped. Did 6km both ways on Thursday. It's one of the stupider ideas that I've had, but I'm going to stick with it.

The thing which my imagination got most wrong was my speed. I thought that my biggest problem would be stopping at high speeds. In reality, keeping up with someone who's walking at a moderate pace is a challenge. At that speed, stopping is not a problem.
posted by clawsoon at 8:55 AM on June 24, 2018

Response by poster: A further follow-up. I've gotten a longer board, a longer pole, and tightened up the trucks. I can't make tight turns, but I'm pushing much more efficiently and going about twice as fast as I was with the old setup. (Speed has gone from moderate walk to slow jog.)

The most interesting part of the experience has been the comments of passers-by. It's a very busy bike and pedestrian area, so there are always at least a couple of people willing to yell something out. The comments have spanned the entire range of sentiment:

- "That's the most innovative thing I've ever seen!"
- "Get that fucking shit out of here!" (An angry cyclist, slowed down by the crowds and me.)
- "You're really working hard!" (Old setup.)
- "Laziest fucking skateboarder ever." (New setup. Peanut gallery proof of my increased efficiency.)
- "Getting ready for paddling season, eh?"

Of the people who show a response, the most common is an involuntary laugh of disbelief. Their brain does not expect to see what their eyes are taking in.
posted by clawsoon at 2:01 PM on July 15, 2018

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