By Mel @troubleon8wheels
I talk about roller skating being a vital activity for those of us that do it for our physical and mental well-being.
I believe that it's an mindful activity - one you become immersed in and can block out other mental distractions - provides mental rest and a break from our own brains. Learning that our journey is our own, and owning that path, can also be incredibly empowering.
I'm a visual learner. So when I talk about this journey, I am picturing a wide road ahead, as we set out on the new roller skate journey. Alongside me are people of all ages, and initially, as we take our first uncertain wobbles and falls, some people decide this is not the journey for them and sit down.
As we continue to journey along the path, there are new roads branching out. Roads that travel parallel with the original one, or that take us into a new direction. Roads towards artistic skills, roller derby, skate parks or rhythm skating. Smaller roads, or paths to learn specific tricks or skills.
What we learn is that we are in charge of the road. Our wheels. Our journey.
We do not compare ourselves to anyone else, as they are not on the same journey.
Need a little break from your journey because you're undertaking a big work project or house renovation? It's never a problem, because your skates are your own.
Linking mental and physical health
We seem to be becoming ever more aware of the importance of our mental health, and this is great, but do you truly believe it? How do we look after our mental health, because I believe it does affect our physical wellbeing.
Craig Jiggy runs a podcast dedicated to sharing the stories of roller skaters, about the positive effects it has for your mental health. You can listen to Skate of Mind Pod here. Craig and I also completed our Mental Health First Aid training this year. I'd highly recommend the course - it definitely helped me rationalise much of what was happening in the world around us, even though it's beyond our control.
Many other skaters also describe how helpful roller skating is for their mental health on blog posts published right here on RGG a few years ago.
Brian from Es Quint Foundation in the Netherlands has written a lovely little blog post, describing the connection between brain, body and soul and how you can support each part of you to feel nourished. Guess what? Brian is a really amazing roller skater.
When the subscription box was launched, the UK was in lockdown, in winter and roller skating was hard! Finding dry spaces in the freezing cold, or clearing enough space in your house so you could join an online class was tough!
Now we are out of lockdown, we are aware that mental wellbeing is even more important to talk about. So important, that we have a volunteer marshall team (being currently introduced over on social media, but you'll find them on our website too) who are there to make sure sessions run smoothly, yes, but their primary focus is the wellbeing of participants. That's you.
We know that roller skating is something that takes a huge amount of courage to even try, and your pals may not be ready to try yet. You want to come by yourself, but your anxiety of walking into a room of strangers is holding you back. We get it. At our classes and sessions, let go of any expectation beyond walking into the room. Step one, book your spot, and take it from there.
I'm having this conversation multiple times a day at the moment across social media, emails and in the shop, which is why I thought I'd share my thoughts here too. I wish I had video of our beginner classes to share with anxious folks. Out of respect to those learners though, we just don't do it. Maybe a 10 second snippet, where you can choose to be in the video if you want to, but these clips are few and far between and don't reflect the class properly.
So although I have continued to learn and un-learn a huge about both myself and the world this year, I had already done a lot of work in 2020 to distill the values I'd like for RGG.
We want people to be able to be their authentic selves, in order to experience joy. We believe you can find both on a road that is travelled on eight wheels. Being authentic is hard. It calls on you to stand up for things you believe in, including yourself. Feeling joy is also hard! Many of us are waiting for the joyful moment to end, instead of celebrating it for the moment that it is. I'll expand on our core values in the future, as I've already rambled on and not even got to my reflections about the subscription box!
Actual reflections coming soon.