A dozen women circle the rink at Bellevue's Skate King, specks of dust in a beam of light. Overhead, speakers unleash all-too-familiar chestnuts from the '70s and '80s Springsteen...
A dozen women circle the rink at Bellevue’s Skate King, specks of dust in a beam of light. Overhead, speakers unleash all-too-familiar chestnuts from the ’70s and ’80s Springsteen, the Beach Boys, Kool & The Gang.
But there’s more than boogie to this Eastside Xanadu: The women are all pushing strollers, whisking by in chatty Charlie’s-Angels clusters of three … four … two … marked by occasional singles.
Welcome to stroller skating, the latest outlet for moms who, frustrated with juggling personal fitness and day care, are rolling with their babies. Strollers especially are a popular accessory for outfits such as Stroller Strides, a national body-toning program based in San Marcos, Calif.
“This is a really good fitness time for moms,” says Nancy Volpert, Skate King’s general manager. “They can watch the kids while they exercise.” While other roller rinks such as Auburn’s Skate Connection and Everett’s Skate Deck allow strollers at selected general times, Skate King’s Tuesday midday sessions are the only ones exclusively for strollers.
The 30-year-old arena poses a smooth alternative to ruddy outdoor paths, and there’s no fiddling with the CD player.
“Mostly they seem to like ’80s music,” says Volpert, whose few attempts at country music were squashed like skunks on an Alabama highway. Easing up to the mike as another song finishes, she calls with strained enthusiasm: “You asked for it, and here it is Duran Duran.”
An idea is launched
Strolling at the rink
Stroller Fitness sessions (for adults with strollers only) are held every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Bellevue’s Skate King, 2301 140th Ave. N.E. Admission is $4 and includes quad-skate rental. More information is available at 425-458-4707 or at bellevueskateking.com.
Other rinks let parents skate with strollers during their “Tiny Tots” sessions for children. They include Auburn Skate Connection, 1825 Howard Road in Auburn, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Saturdays, and Everett Skate Deck, 9700 19th Ave. S.E. in Everett, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesdays. Admission is $4 a child (parents skate free) at Skate Connection (253-833-4990 or auburnskate.com) and $3 at Skate Deck (425-337-0202, everettskatedeck.com).
For information about Stroller Strides locally, see strollerstrides.net/seattle or call 888-489-6844.
At Skate King’s general sessions, kids fly around the rink like photons. Every so often, parents would ask Volpert if they could take strollers out there.
With dead time to fill on Tuesdays, she launched stroller-skate sessions a year ago. By June, up to 30 moms were showing up with strollers.
Lisa Baisler, of Sammamish, heard about it from her sister-in-law. “I thought it sounded like a blast,” she says. “This place totally takes you back to the ’80s.”
“It’s a lot easier than going to the gym,” says Lynnwood’s Debbie Shannon. Her gym offered child care, but staffers wouldn’t change daughter Emilie’s diaper; instead, they’d come interrupt her to do it. “If you’re going to work out, you can’t stop and go,” she says.
Adding skates to the stroller workout equation, though, is a delicate matter. Indoors at Skate King, no one is exactly moving at Mach speed, but the idea of outdoor stroller skating has inspired heated debate on askaboutskating.com, a skating-community Web site.
The divisions are clear: Those who say every skater will fall, eventually “stroller blading is a bad, bad idea” and those who say life is full of risk; deal with it. Some say fine, just make sure you use strollers with brakes and wrist tethers; others threaten to call 911 if they see a fast-moving stroller.
“I wouldn’t try speed skating behind a Baby Jogger,” goes one Seattle post, “but skating with one at a safe speed … can teach kids at a young age that being outside having fun is better than sitting in front of the TV with a baby-sitter while mom and dad get a workout.”
Answers another, from Cincinnati: “I can think of a thousand ways to teach my kid that lesson without putting them in a stroller designed for JOGGING. Who is the child here? ‘Me me me it’s all about me and my workout! My workout/fun is more of a priority than my child’s safety.’ “
Heather Gertmenian, a certified personal trainer and Stroller Strides instructor in Redmond, says post-partem fitness not only poses schedule problems but the challenges of bodies transformed.
“Your body’s changing, your center of gravity is changing,” Gertmenian says. “If you wipe out on skates, that can be pretty brutal.”
Not to worry: At Skate King, everything spins at 33-1/3. And anyway, the sessions are as much about socializing as exercising. “Some moms use it as a coffee klatsch,” Volpert says. “When we first started, the snack bar was full of breastfeeding moms.”
And there are rules. From her perch in the DJ booth, the general manager barks orders like a schoolyard principal:
Faster skaters, stay on the outside.
No skating without a stroller, thank you. This is stroller-skate.
The strollerless transgressor slinks sheepishly off the rink.
But while Volpert insists that everyone on the rink have a stroller, that doesn’t mean every stroller has a baby. One mom whose child is beyond stroller age, not confident enough to skate at packed general sessions, sometimes shows up with an empty stroller. “Before, she was putting a bag of flour in there,” Volpert says.
Today, at least five moms push strollers built for two; one has a baby on one side and a stuffed animal on the other. (Note to moms: Double-wide strollers are way easier to maneuver than double-long.)
Some exit the rink for baby pit stops. “She was asking for raisins,” Baisler explains, attending to 19-month-old daughter Sarah.
And babies need to socialize too, which is why Issaquah’s Heather Clark is back for the second week in a row. “She loves it,” Clark says of 10-month-old daughter Madeleine. “Last week, she didn’t know what to think; it was completely quiet. But about 15 minutes into it, she just started babbling and having fun.”
Marc Ramirez: 206-464-8102 or firstname.lastname@example.org