Everyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I'm really into working out. I do resistance training at least 5 days a week and a bunch of mobility work etc...
I don't generally discuss that stuff on here much since this is, after all, a skateboard blog. However, I just realized something this morning that I wanted to mention. I've been trying to figure out why I don't squat well. After getting some bad internet advice, I have been trying to squat with feet and knees as straight out from my body as possible. This week I realized why I've been having knee pain issues and why I can't squat even a 90 degree angle.
After searching and searching for answers, I found some interesting videos that exposed the bad (possibly damaging) advice I had gotten. My body, my hip joint to be more precise, is built so that I need to turn my knees outward when I squat. We are all different so how in the world could we all squat the same. I'll save you all the conversation on why this is since I am not an expert and will probably, when doing this from memory, get terms incorrect and look like a fool.
This revelation also made me think about skateboarding. For instance, I've wanted to do boneless to nose blunt forever, but have never been able to twist my body into the correct position to do it. I started thinking about knee and hip positions on that trick and realized that, unless I am able to make some kind of changes to the trick, my body's mechanics may keep me from doing them. And, in fact, that may be the case in a variety of tricks that require me to squat low on the board (gray slides come to mind). So, now I wait for the sun to come out, temperatures to rise, and the snow to melt so I can start experimenting with tricks that require me to squat low and how I can adapt them to my body mechanics.
It his hard to improve when you have no room to roll. Last week we had days of ice which, yesterday, were replaced with hours and hours of snowfall. The temperatures are about 15 degrees below freezing, and that means not much skate time or space. I'm forced into the garage, and my sessions are forced to be very short.
As some of you know from my Instagram feed, I am attempting to skate everyday in 2021. Of course, rain and snow makes it difficult to get out and session. So, I've been stepping into the garage, getting a quick clip and calling it a day during these sub-freezing, icy, and snowy days.
Being unable to get out of the house does have a few benefits:
I have more workout time. I have gotten into mobility work in addition to resistance training and stretching, and being at home has given me extra time to move. I've really focused on fixing issues from hip to toes. However, while I'm making sure to get my workouts in, being stuck at home makes for a lot of bad eating temptations so I'm probably adding a couple pounds of fat during this hibernation. Being at home also allows for rest/recovery. Skating everyday on top of working out means the body needs to rest (especially a middle-age body). Mid-afternoons spent relaxing is a change from my usual work routine when I'm on my feet for hours on end.
Catching up on skate videos is another perk. For the first time in a long time (years) I'm even checking in on modern skateboarding. Normally, I am a creature of nostalgia. I have a fondness for the fun of simple tricks. A boneless on a bank, freestyle footwork, and simple grinds on curbs are the basis of my skateboarding. However, I'm watching some of this technical stuff and I'm thinking about giving some of it a shot.
I also have time to work on balance and skate without wheels. I'm working on wheelies on the softruck board and I'm watching videos of tricks I have seen for years but never done and working out the mechanics of those tricks. Slowing down Youtube is a great way to look at the mechanics of a trick and see exactly what is happening. That is exactly how I learned street plants. I never did them as a kid so, when I decided I wanted to do them, I put a Youtube video on .25 speed, watched the movements, and practiced on carpet.
Stay safe in this cold weather!
For those of you that haven't seen it, Street Survival, a how-to street skateboard video produced in the late 80's, it is a YouTube search away. As soon as you finish reading this blog, search it out. It is so terribly 80's that it is wonderful.
The skating in this video shows the real roots of street. Street skating isn't "founded by Mullen" the way people claim. It is founded on three things in equal proportions:
1. Vert/bowl/ditch skating without any vert/bowl/ditch to skate. This is how the slappy was born. This is how boardslides on curbs were born.
2. Freestyle. Notice that I'm not saying Rodney Mullen. In this video we see classic freestyle done on vert sized boards.
3. Skating in the street. Just going out and riding a skateboard on the streets and sidewalks of the country...you know, how skateboarding started in the first place.
Anyway, Street Survival is excellent for non-ollie based street/curb/flat ground skating. It inspired my Saturday morning parking block session, and I'm going to make it a point to delve into this style of street skating more often. Boneless tricks. Early grab to curb bashers. Freestyle on bigger boards (which is most of my skating anyway). This stuff is great.
Today will mark my 30th day in a row to skate. Some days have been very brief lines of a trick or two (my wedding anniversary, for instance). Other days have been full sessions at a skatepark.
The other instagram based project I am doing is related to physical fitness. Fitness is something most of you that visit this blog know I'm very interested in. In addition to my chronicling a skate every single day, I'm doing a short clip of an exercise every single day this year. The exercises are a mixed bag of stretches, resistance bands, weights (coming soon), and mobility.
Sharing 365 different exercises got me thinking about how many different skate tricks I could share in a year. There are so many different tricks I've spend time on over the years that I forget about. I thought it would be fun to take reach into the bag and take some of those out again. I mean, I really enjoy doing things like walk the cows and I challenged myself with backwards walk the dogs for so long, but I rarely ever do them. Plus, I need to keep learning new tricks, and I can use this as an additional inspiration to learn new things.
As far as skating goes, I'm continuing to ride my 8.0 board as a daily rider. In fact, I have a new 8" Paige (board maker based in Arkansas) due to come in later today. I took the skids off my Ishod Wair deck and it has worn out incredibly quickly from doing freestyle trick on it. I'm going back to skid plates. I took them off for ollie and tail slide purposes, but in truth I don't ollie much and do tail slides even less.
I recently started coining myself as a "low skater." By that I meant I stay low to the ground on my board. It was an off the cuff remark, but it fits. I don't have the desire to drop in from above 4 or 5 feet. I don't have the desire to fly down a flight of stairs. I want to challenge myself with freestyle footwork and flat ground skating and hit a few curbs here and there. I want to do some wheelies and maybe work up to a few manuals. I want to push myself but I understand that pushing myself at nearly 50 is very different from pushing myself at 15, 25, or even 35. But it doesn't mean I can't continue to push. It just means pushing in a different way.
One day I'm talking about ballet classes and turning. The next I'm street skating, doing slappies, and trying to land blunt fingerflips to axle on a curb.
I am a walking (skating) oxymoron.
In truth I miss street and park skating. So, I'm street and park skating. Will it last? Who know.
Just get out and skate. Do whatever is fun. Here are yesterday's clips:
The train wreck that was 2020 is finally over, and a new year has finally begun. Unfortunately, up here in Northwest Arkansas, the new year has been ushered in with snow and freezing temps which has put me in the garage for any skating for the first couple days of the year. The sun is out this morning so hopefully I'll get a little time in at my normal spot today. But, before I go skating, I wanted to touch on the past year and the year to come.
Last year, purely from a skateboarding perspective, was pretty great for me. I got fifth in the World Round-Up Online Showdown, and I improved my trick skating and my footwork quite a bit.
I also, admittedly, got a little bored with freestyle and the lack of turning involved. As most of you know, freestyle skaters are known for riding tight trucks, and I have been guilty of the same. I've spent time trying to figure out how to get my trucks tighter without cranking down on the kingpin nut. I've bought tons of different bushings looking for the tightest possible combination.
But the lack of turning got boring. Skating is, essentially (for me anyway),rolling and turning on a skateboard, and I was missing the leaning, turning, pumping I had enjoyed for so long. So, I decided to change my freestyle into something much less. . .well, much less freestyle. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've left traditional freestyle behind. I've loosed my trucks and opted for soft wheels. I'm turning and gliding more than tictacking. I'm even moving to different non-skate exercises to try and improve my turning, gliding balance. The last ten minutes of every off the board workout has been dedicated to ballet/barre exercises, and I've incorporated a ton of yoga into my daily routine.
Where will all this lead? I'm not really sure. I know I'm moving in a very "87 Dreams of a Lifetime" direction. I'm practicing backwards pumping. I'm doing dancer pose (the yoga pose) while carving a turn. I've realized that a flamingo is just a back scale from gymnastics on a skateboard. I'm tying things together. However, I don't think losing surf and skate style is the way to do it. Gesmer, in "87 Dreams of a Lifetime" left behind traditional skateboard style and surf style and moved so far into figure skating and ballet that it wasn't relatable to the people that were watching it...
...I'm rambling. There is a method to my madness these days, but no clear defined ending point. I know what I don't want to do, but I'm not sure what I'm looking to accomplish. We shall see where 2021 leads.
Two thing I'm doing this year are everyday challenges. I'm skating (and posting a clip/picture) every single day in 2021. I'm also posting something similar from a workout perspective. I will do some form of exercise everyday for the year and post a clip or pic of it everyday.
The year is nearly finished, and I've never wanted to see the back end of a period of time as much as 2020. To think this entire year has been upended by a virus seems like the plot of a movie, but not real life in 21st century.
One thing I think has happened due to the pandemic and people having to quarantine is that freestyle has gained a little popularity. Freestyle is, of course, a solitary pursuit for most. It is finding a flat patch of concrete away from other people and drilling the same tricks over and over until you get them locked in.
Meanwhile, as I watch the world turn to fingerflips and rail tricks, I move back and forth between longboards, street boards, and a freestyle board. I'm so fickle about my skating. I want to freestyle but I'm drawn to turning. So, I've set up yet another board. This one is odd. It is a mini popsicle stick (7.4x29.5) with Bennett trucks and Powell Rough Rider wheels. So, it is the shape of my street board, the turning of my slalom board, the size of my freestyle board, and the soft wheels of my longboard.
I, of course, just wrote blogs talking about how there is no one size fits all board and this one isn't the magic secret do it all skateboard. I set this thing up for one specific reason: It can pump, carve, wheelie, and still endover. I've been thinking about Gesmer again. You know the video, I'm sure. Let's see what happens.
I teased on my Instagram feed a new post about what skateboard I own is the most fun skateboard. As it is now 31 degrees (F) raining (with a guarantee the rain will soon turn into snow), this seems the perfect time to sit down and write that post.
I have been guilty of trying to make one skateboard a do-it-all too many times. I want a board that I can freestyle on, dance with, curb skate, park skate, ditch skate...and that perfect board has seems to not be a real thing. Freestyle footwork and flip tricks are easiest on a freestyle sized board. Curb skating on a bigger board, but not as big as a ditch pumper and on and on.
This never really works out perfectly. My curb board can be used for freestyle or ditch skating but it isn't super efficient at either. In fact, take it to a ditch, decide to do a long speed run and I'll end up disappointed and wishing I'd brought a more speed run specific board. The wheelbase doesn't allow for really deep, fun pumping.
Of course, there are boards that go in-between disciplines well. For instance, my cruiser, slalom, ditch pumping favorite has a 17.5" wheelbase, 85mm Gunmetal trucks, and some big, fat slalom wheels. It pumps on flat, moves through a ditch like butter, swerves cones, turns on a dime, and (if ridden backwards) is excellent for long arcing g-turns. That is a lot for one board so it ranks very high on the most fun list.
But what if I had to give up all other boards and have one skateboard?
My 8" and 8.75" popsicles don't really even rank more than a mention and maybe a sentence or two on a most fun list. Honestly, neither does my freestyle setup. But am I not a freestyler?!
Freestyle is very enjoyable (notice I didn't use the word fun). Street skating and curb bashing are fun, but those things aren't really what my skateboarding is about anymore. I rarely grind my trucks against a curb these days. That is heresy to most of the people I know, but it is true. Grinding curbs gets boring. There. I said it.
My drop through longboard also doesn't get much consideration. It does one thing. Moves in the direction you want to go with efficiency. It is great exercise and is fun, but you sure don't want to carve a ditch with it.
If I needed to go down to one skateboard for the rest of my life (the horror!!!) I'd have to let the curb bashers and ollie popping boards go.
Getting rid of a good slalom/ditch/pumper would hurt me much worse (as it lists as second most fun) and go with a hybrid longboard.
As I mentioned to Eric Sanders the other day, wheelies are more fun on longboards. That comment made me think, ditches are generally more fun on a longer board. Cruising, for me, is more fun on a longer board. Freestyle? A hybrid form of dance and freestyle is very enjoyable on a longboard. So here it is folks. My most enjoyable board has a kick nose, a kicktail, traditional kingpin trucks (that turn), soft wheels, built-in bearings, and a long wheelbase. It can go to a ditch and pump. It could skate a curb if I wanted. It can do walk the dogs and then cross-step and Peter Pan. It is amazing for wheelies. It is the hybrid longboard. The crazy thing about that? It is literally one of the most difficult board shapes to find!
I should call this Size Matters Or: Am I Even a Freestyler?
I watched Denham Hill's YouTube video on freestyling on a street board earlier today, and I feel like I really need to say a few things.
First off, lets get this out of the way:
Denham says we should support (invest our money) in freestyle based companies because they are invested in freestyle. And he's right about that. I feel a little guilt ordering a non-freestyle company product, and I do make sure to order skids, shirts, and bushings from Decomposed but I feel guilt when I could order from Mode or Waltz or Moonshine and I don't.
Now, to the meat of the conversation, why do I ride what I ride and, am I really a freestyle skater? Because I'm not sure anymore.
Board size: I ride what I ride because they are all enjoyable. Sometimes it is a 7.3 " board with a sub-13 inch wheelbase. Sometimes it is an 8" street sized board. Sometimes it is a 8.75 popsicle and sometimes a longboard. I ride each board for one reason, they're all enjoyable. And they're all enjoyable for different reasons. The 7.3 requires that I am more precise. It turns faster and has a lot less room for error. The 8.75 is enjoyable because it feels like a tank after riding the 7.3. I can go slow and sloppy riding it...and it is really fun for non-freestyle curb bashing slappys. The longboard is enjoyable for the pure flow of it. Smooth and slow.
But, all of that said, I primarily ride the 8" pop these days, and it has me questioning whether I'm a freestyler or a just a guy that is primarily a flatland skater. See, while I love how Denham (and some others) do rail tricks, I don't have a strong desire to do them (aside from casper disasters, those are awesome). And pogo tricks do nothing for me (I just don't like 'em). I need to work on 50/50 tricks, but I'm waiting for the dead of winter and snow days to do that. They look great when mixed in with a lot of rolling tricks.
The traditional freestyle stuff I love are fingerflips and footwork. I'm working hard to add wheelies as well, but if I'm honest, the wheelies feel better on my 8" popsicle. G-turns, flamingos, hang ten nose wheelies are all more fun on the 8" popsicle if I'm honest.
I have also started doing tons of step off tricks. Step off tricks, no comply based stuff, is a mainstay of the 80's street skater (which are my roots, of course), but they get looked down on by a lot of freestylers. They're too easy compared to the non-step off counterparts is generally the main argument. The secondary argument is the "floor is lava" tradition of no stepping off the board for freestyle. As I go from g-turn to endover to shove it to 360 no comply I have wondered if I just left freestyle and moved into flatland territory.
Add in that I love longboard dance stuff including some really really step off ghost ride tricks, and I'm wondering if what I do even constitutes freestyle anymore. Maybe I'm a flatland skater not a freestyler. Maybe I'm a longboard dancer without a longboard (most of the time). Sure I do walk the dogs and spacewalks, but who knows?! I was once told that telling the difference between freestyle and flatland skating was a lot like telling the difference between pornography and art. You just know...but now I start to wonder...
Despite the name "freestyle" I am starting to believe that freestyle isn't free at all. It seems to have as many if not more rules than other types of skating. Is that good for the future of freestyle skating? Should I care? I mean whether I'm a freestyler or not I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing. I've tapped into the skating I love now, as a nearly 50 year old man, more than I have in the previous 30 plus years so...I guess what I call it doesn't matter except that I'm calling it...
I'm not even sure if I want to call what I do freestyle anymore. Maybe I'll drop the name and just call it skating.
I just went for a cruise on my latest complete. It is an 8" Real deck with Tensor trucks, mini logo bushings, and Spitfire 97a Formula Four Wheels. I didn't do anything more difficult than a caveman and a powerslide. No ollie tricks. No flip tricks. I just cruised.
It was fun, but I was surprisingly bad at it.
Yep. I can do 62 miles in one go on a longboard, and I can do my fair share of freestyle and flat ground tricks, but just cruising was difficult for me today. Okay, difficult isn't the right word. Awkward is the right word. And it was awkward because, as I quickly realized, I haven't skated somewhere with giant cracks in uneven pavement in far too long.
It has been too long since I skated the real world!!! I have been so caught up in skating a perfectly poured track and an even basketball court that I had lost the feeling of skating real streets!
Now, about this new setup. I'm riding an 8" pop because, quite frankly, it suits how I'm skating these days. I've given in to my desire to mix freestyle footwork with old school step off and ollie street tricks with longboard dance stuff. I've realized that the slightly longer wheelbase, while not as good for footwork like walk the dogs, is much better for g-turns. G-turns just feel better on a little wider board with a little looser trucks. And my flamingos?! So much easier on the "street" setup.
Now, all of this doesn't mean I won't jump on my frestyle set up. Heck, knowing me, I'll be on it again working on casper disasters next week (they're impossible on this other setup), but I'm really enjoying a little bigger, turnier board this week.