Skateboarding is not a lifestyle exclusive to the non-conformist punk rocker anymore. At least not since the advent of the longboard skateboard, which has opened the door to a world of possibilities not before known to the uncool. One such possibility is that longboarding is a viable and enjoyable method for staying fit.
“Longboarding” is the socially acceptable term for riding a skateboard that is longer; typically 8-12 inches more than the common skateboard. At the genesis of the longboarding movement, manufacturers targeted surfers because of the gnarly feel-goods similar to that of riding a wave. It is a sensation of pure euphoria, yet the wipeouts are inflexible and prone to side effects that are unfamiliar to the aquatic counterpart, such as road rash. Although longboarding originated to stoke the thrill of surfing, it has evolved into a competitive, exciting, and somewhat dangerous sport.
Anecdotal evidence as observed casually by this blogger says that competitive longboarding is predominantly practiced in the Northwest region of the U.S. The San Francisco Bay Area Skateboard Association, for instance, holds competitions, events, and gatherings year-round that are often impromptu and are assembled only by word of mouth. Competitions are oftentimes short lived because they are planned and performed without legal permits. Traffic is just another obstacle for the participants. The contest is both performed and decided quickly, or lasts until the authorities come and break it up, whichever comes first. But you can’t blame the young Bay Area locals who are surrounded by massively steep hills just begging to be conquered.
One such competition, the Menlo Park Slide Jam became such a popular event that the city caved in and now closes the area to traffic to allow skaters to do their thing legally. If you really want to give your butt cheeks a good workout, do a YouTube search for Menlo Park Slide Jam. You will be puckering for sure.
Aside from the radically death-defying escapades of longboard competitors, longboarding is a decent workout for the less daring and/or less young and frail.
A method of propelling oneself on a longboard known as skogging is one way to get your leg muscles screaming for mercy. The traditional way to get moving on a board is to use one leg to push against the ground. Skogging, which is a mixture of the words “skating” and “jogging” is the traditional method’s ambidextrous and hilarious cousin in which the skater alternates legs that push against the ground, one after the other, while on even-level terrain. Be careful–not only is this method much more difficult than it sounds, it also looks really silly. But you’ll have the last laugh when you strut your buns of steel around the beach.
A less demeaning method of driving a longboard is known as pumping. A skater still needs to get started by pushing off of the pavement, but once that has been done the skater will plant both feet on the board and use his or her core to maneuver the longboard in a zigzag pattern very rapidly. This is an excellent core workout and actually has measurable results. As the technique gets better and the core becomes stronger, the skater will be able to go farther without setting a foot back on the ground.
Longboarding is a good workout because it is an easy hobby, you will have fun, and it is not as physically demanding as running. Other benefits include better balance and coordination, a +1 on the cool scale, and simulating surf when you are too far from the ocean.
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