fitness · Guest Post

Skating through the pandemic (Guest post)

Rachel attempting a ramp at a local skatepark while locals look on. 

by Rachel Holden

2020 was a strange year. The things that used to bring me joy, just aren’t the same. Choices for entertainment were limited, and who we can do those things with even more so. So far, 2021 hasn’t been much different.

I’ve never been very athletic. Competitive to a fault, I gave up on sports at a young age because my body just wasn’t good at doing the things I wanted it to do. As a little girl I was told “scars don’t look good on girls” so I wasn’t allowed to do the rough and tumble things I really wanted to. As I got older sports and fitness were just another way to obsess about my body size and be disappointed in it once again.

A few years ago, I took up powerlifting and fell in love. The intensity, the competition, the fact that the contest was over almost before it began was what drew me in. But living a year in relative lock-down, trying to work a day job, manage a new business and trying to educate two children under 10 was intense enough.  The thought of doing another hard thing was just too much.

And that is where Skateboarding comes in. My 9-year-old son was the first to start. A great way to be outside, get in some exercise and socially distance. Then, my husband bought himself a board because he wasn’t going to be left just watching the fun. It took me a bit longer, but I finally gave it a try. My 9-year-old coached me and cheered when I didn’t immediately fall.

The next weekend we took it to a skate park, where two young girls, clapped and cheered for me, so happy to see a mom out there giving it a shot. Boys looked at me wide eyed, not believing what they were seeing and other parents mostly looked confused.

It was like learning to ride bicycle all over again. The wind in your hair, feeling like Bambi taking her first steps, learning to balance and feeling the terror. It was exhilarating. I was hardly moving and my watch caught my heartrate at 168 – turns out being scared will rev you up and make you sweat, for no apparent reason! Like riding a rollercoaster, the fear ebbs and flows and when it all becomes just a little too much – you can just jump off!

While kids are whipping around me flying around corners and jumping stairs, I am counting my pushes and reminding myself to bend my knees, sometimes out loud, to my own embarrassment. There have been injuries. Mostly bruises, some impressive, some forgettable. I did bring myself for X rays after an ugly fall while trying to board to the market. Turns out, real life boarding is much rockier than the smooth surfaces at the skatepark. Nothing was broken, but I sprained both hands. At the same time. Wear wrist guards. Do as I say and not as I do. Please. For your own good.

I took two weeks off to heal, put on my wrist guards and got back on. I was not going to let an injury beat me. I started slow, my heart racing, but warmed up quickly, back to the mediocre skater I was before. I bought myself this rad new board. I am not letting it go to waste.

If you’re looking for something exhilarating, stress inducing, and maybe a little foolish, skateboarding might just be for you!

Showing off my new skateboard – son smiling in background – board is red with a white graphic of a curvy woman line drawing.

Rachel Holden is the 43-year-old Founder of Uplift Ventures, a real estate investment firm creating new housing options for renters in Ontario. She’s also a mom to two kids, a powerlifter while not in lock down, and has little regard for her own safety. She can be reached at Rachel@upliftventures.ca

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