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Planning Retirement Online


Out of the box - Ice Skating


                                               January
2009

This is our regular OUT OF THE BOX feature where we give suggestions on different things to try. 


If you have tried something unusual or different, tell us all about it - and send in a photograph as well if you can – so that we can share your experiences with others.


Email: outofthebox@laterlife.com   


 

OUT OF THE BOX – ICE SKATING – yes, even at our age!

 

Ice skatingThis is probably one you never thought of. Over 50 and we break more easily, are less flexible and ice skating could be a really foolhardy sport.

Not so! Evidently increasing numbers of retired people are turning up at ice rinks eager to have a go. Some of the new interest is coming from the increased number of temporary ice rinks that is cropping up around the country; but it is also an indication of the increasing fitness levels of the 50 plus generation.

Ice skating doesn’t have to be dangerous. It can be started and continued very slowly indeed at a very leisurely and safe pace that gives exercise and fun without real risk.

There is of course a risk element, sliding over onto hard ice can be dangerous and if you are suffering from any skeletal problems or have concerns about your general fitness level, then of course don’t do it. But for many people, ice skating could be an exciting new interest.

The origins of ice skating can be traced back to the frozen lakes of Finland an astonishing 5,000 years ago when people made rough skates from animal bones. It started off as a practical method of travelling across the icy ground rather than as a form of recreation, of course.

Today of course ice skating is popular the world over, on lovely outdoor rinks in countries that enjoy cold winters such as Switzerland and Japan to expensive to maintain indoor rinks in the tropical heat of northern Australia and Dubai.

Most ice rinks will have professional instructors and often you will find there are some adult only learners’ classes. If not, to start off with at our age it is best to book a one to one lesson with an instructor. He or she will advise you about mundane aspects like obtaining the right skates (almost all ice rinks offer skate hire) and the importance of securing them tightly.

Then you will be gently guided onto the ice and introduced to the fun and exhilaration of gliding across the ice. You can stay very close to the edge of the rink with its easy handholds, but as you gain confidence the instructor will hold onto you and help you take more adventurous steps.

Go two or three times and you will be surprised how quickly you progress and, as long as you are not over ambitious, how safe you can feel on skates.

It is obviously important to avoid the popular general skating times when you are learning – being knocked flying by youngsters racing around at incredible speed is not a good idea at any age and certainly not something any of us want to risk. But daytime sessions, especially on weekdays, can be very quiet and you can progress slowly, sedately and at your own level.

If you are ambitious, the National Ice Skating Association runs an official learn to skate programme covering 10 stages, from simply being able to stand on the ice to Stage 10 which includes difficult movements such as backward crossovers in a figure eight pattern.

But for most of us, the joy of being able to gently glide around a rink will be achievement enough. Being able to accompany grand children to an ice rink and to enjoy the technical aspects of shows on ice could be additional bonuses from this fun and healthy activity.

For more information and to find your nearest rink and instructor, look at www.iceskating.org.uk

 



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