I first met Dani through work. Job titles have since changed, but now I have the pleasure of calling her a friend. Dani is someone I would label as a "girly girl" and I am... not. Initially, I would have never guessed our opposite personalities would create the friendship we have today. These days, I'm grateful not only for her wealth of wisdom, but her inspirational tenacity to take on challenges.
Dani's story is one that resonates with all of us, which is why I asked her to write about her first skateboarding lesson for Gnarly Girls. Admitting you're a beginner is a daunting process, full of questioning and insecurity. As she'll describe in her piece, she isn't what you envision when you think of a "skater girl". But that's what I love about her. She has that "I can do anything" determination, and as you'll learn in her story – she really can. She takes us through all of the questions you might be too afraid to ask. Dani's advice reminds us we're capable of accomplishing anything if we're willing to take the first step – or skate.
- Kelsey, creator of Gnarly Girls.
A Very Beginner's Guide to Skateboarding
By Dani Noah
Let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room: I am not your typical skater.
I wear a dress and red lipstick nearly everyday. My personality is one of cheerful determination. If Kate Spade and J.Crew had a child, it would be me.
I like to surprise people. Even more, I like to surprise myself. No one (including myself) would ever think I could skateboard. This reason alone is exactly why I am a skater girl... in training.
As I write this post to Gnarly Girls everywhere in celebration of Go Skateboarding Day, I thought of all of the things I was stressed about before my first skateboarding experience.
Should I take lessons? What do I wear? What do I bring? Will people make fun of me? What if I fall? What is the lesson like?
Since this is a VERY beginner’s guide to skateboarding, I’ve got your back with answers I learned during my first skateboarding lesson.
Should I take lessons?
I am a very prideful person and a secret learner. I do not like messing up in front of anyone, even someone that I am paying to teach me a skill. Instead, I will watch hours of YouTube videos, and then learn in the privacy of my home. DON’T DO THAT!
At the very least, take one lesson with a professional’s help. There are some basic frameworks and skills to skateboarding that will make a world of difference.
What do I wear?
Clothes: Wear clothes that you can move comfortably in. This doesn’t necessarily mean workout clothes, but if your default wardrobe choice is workout clothes, wear it. I wore high waisted black pants and a t-shirt. I got surprisingly sweaty, so I was glad to be in a loose shirt.
Shoes: In skateboarding, you continuously jump on and off the board, so it will be helpful to wear shoes that do not have any tread (like running shoes). It can be Converse, Vans, or in my case, new balance sneakers.
What do I bring?
It depends on what is included with your lesson, but most likely you will not need to bring anything. I took lessons at All Together Skate, which included my skateboard, helmet, and every piece of padding I could hope for.
Will people make fun of me?
Absolutely not. While I took my lessons, there were a handful of high school boys skating. I was certain they would make fun of me, but instead they were exceedingly respectful and encouraging. It was confirmed while going over skateboarding etiquette that most skaters are a thoughtful and encouraging group.
What if I fall?
You will fall, but the key is learning how to fall. It is just as important to remember that everyone falls - even professional skateboarders.
What is the lesson like?
Your lesson won’t look exactly like mine, as it depends on where you are at with your skill level and goals. My lesson went something like this:
I arrived at All Together Skate a minute early and immediately met my instructor, Sean. As he finished a dripping popsicle, he got my skateboarding history and hopes: “No experience and I want to be awesome.” We then picked out a board and strapped me into all of the padding - elbows, wrists, knees, and helmet.
The rest of the hour was going over basics:
- Figuring out goofy or normal footing
- How to fall
- Where to place my weight
- Stepping on/off the skateboard
- Dropping in
- Intro to Ollie
The hour went by really fast, and I was grateful when it ended because were were about to learn how to go down a ramp. As brave as I was pretending to be, I was not ready to conquer that quite yet.
So, what now?
The most surprising thing about my lesson was how I felt after. I was euphoric. It is an exhilarating feeling when you push yourself to try new things and discover you aren’t terrible. The hardest part will always be just showing up.
But if I can do it, so can you.
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