Maybe you own a pair, or maybe you’ve only ridden in circles on a wooden floor during a middle school field trip, but these days, inline skates are scarcely seen on paths. What many don’t realize is that skating is an awesome cross training workout, especially for runners.

Kacie Cleveland, who owns a CrossFit Gym in Seattle, often breaks out her Rollerblades on days when her schedule calls for cross training.

“It’s a great workout for your legs and butt, especially since you’re lower to the ground,” Cleveland says. “It’s a different way of strengthening, for a runner it works more lateral muscles, such as inner thighs.”

Because running is so hard on the body, inline skating offers a low-impact, high-cardio alternative, and Rollerblade designs skates to keep your ankles aligned and steady and for easy stopping. In addition to quads, glutes, hip muscles and claves, inline skating also works core and postural muscles, by stabilizing the body.

For those with bad knees and joints, Cleveland suggests incorporating a longer skate into your workout routine in place of a long run, or a shorter skate for cross training. A lot of people in Cleveland’s gym use skating as transportation to replace their bikes. However, she started skating in college, when running was no longer an option for her.

“I have compartment syndrome in both my legs, and I ran track in college but had to stop,” Cleveland adds. “I had to find something to keep me motivated.”

Cleveland says that with compartment syndrome, her legs go numb if she does too much, such as running; skating, however, let’s her get her miles in without the impact. While she played hockey as a kid and skated around California with her friends, now Cleveland skates 10 to 20 miles at a time and even competes in inline skating races.

Her biggest piece of advice to newbies is to start with smaller wheels, such as 90-mm, and then go up from there once you get the hang of it.

“Also, start off slow, and do not be afraid of getting up and off of curbs,” she adds. “It’s kind of like skiing, just bend your knees.”

Want to use skates to build strength? Try these beginner exercises by Rollerblade:

Ready Position

  • Inline skates are shoulder width apart; ankles, knees, and hips slightly flexed; shoulders comfortably forward.
  • Arms and hands should be within the field of view.

Basic Two-Foot Glide

  • Begin by skating forward.
  • Stop moving feet and bring both skates beneath the body with knees flexed and shoulders slightly in front of the hips.
  • Depending on ability, arms can be to the sides of the body or held out in front within the field of view.
  • Purpose: Basic starting position of all inline skating skills.

Scissor Glide

  • Begin in a two-foot glide.
  • Keeping the knees flexed, scissor one skate in front of the body. The heel of the front skate should be aligned with the toe of the back.
  • Hold this position for a count of 5.
  • Repeat with the opposite leg forward.
  • Purpose: Improves balance.

Basic One-Foot Glide

  • Begin with the Two-Foot Glide.
  • Keeping the upper body still, shift the weight to the left leg. Lift the right skate, aligning the toe of the right skate with the heel of the left.
  • Hold for as long as comfortable.
  • Repeat on the left leg.
  • Purpose: Improves balance and agility.

Forward Swizzle

  • Begin in a Two-Foot Glide
  • With a bend in the knees, push down through the heels of the skates while turning the toes slightly out to the sides. The wheels should roll to the inside edge.
  • Continue the movement by turning the toes slightly inward while rising up in the knees, bringing the feet back underneath the body and into a short Two-Foot Glide.
  • Continue moving by repeating the motion so that the swizzles are “linked” and the glide time between swizzles is shortened.
  • Purpose: Builds leg strength and power.

One-Foot Swizzle

  • Begin by shifting the weight over to the left skate and place both hands on the knee (keeping the hands on the knee throughout will help to keep the body in correct alignment) and the weight over the support of skating side. The wheels are on the center “edge”.
  • Pressing through the heel of the right skate, extend the leg out to the side as far as comfortable. The wheels of the right skate will be on the inside edge.
  • Regroup the skates by bringing the right leg back underneath the body.
  • Continue to move forward by linking the One-Foot Swizzles.
  • Focus should be on fully extending the swizzling leg and regrouping the skates beneath the body.
  • Repeat with the left leg.
  • Purpose: Builds strength in the quadriceps. Helps to lengthen skating stride. Improves balance.
  • Additional Suggestions for One-Foot Swizzles:
    • One-Foot Swizzles can also be performed in a circle with the wheels on the outside edge. Repeat clockwise and counter clockwise
    • Alternating Swizzles can also be performed by moving in a straight line and alternating One-Foot Swizzles. This exercise will be helpful for turning.
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Holly's running career began in high school; after being bummed about not making the volleyball team her sophomore year, she decided to join some of her middle school friends on the cross country team. She also did track in the fall, where the 1600 m race was her niche. Since then, she has run many distance races, and is going for her first marathon at the 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon this October. She graduated from Illinois State University in May 2016 with a degree in journalism, and is working towards her Master in Arts in New Media and Marketing.

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