When it comes to skateboarding, it’s not just about keeping your balance on the board. There’s a whole series of tricks, stances and moves to learn, not to mention the lingo, the music, the fashion and the social scene that are all a part and parcel of joining the local skating community.
With that in mind, it makes sense for budding young skaters to learn from the pros themselves – which is why Rage at The Dubai Mall is holding lessons in its very own skate bowl above the main skate shop. ‘It is a good thing to start learning in a controlled environment,’ explains Bruno Santana, a professional skater from Brazil who has been teaching the UAE’s kids for the past two years. ‘The Rage Bowl at Dubai Mall is a covered facility with A/C that’s the perfect size for kids to learn the basics all the way up to more advanced tricks. After developing their balancing skills, and understanding what’s they can do with the board, then
they can take it to the streets and try for themselves.’
Students in Bruno’s classes range from around aged seven up to 14, although they can take kids at an earlier age, depending on their ability. The earlier a kid starts to learn, the faster their skating ability will develop. ‘In this age range, they have less fear, learn faster and develop balance much better than when they’re older,’ he adds.
While Dubai has plenty on offer at both ends of the spectrum for younger kids and grown-ups, teens can often end up feeling a bit left out.
‘There seems to be much more on offer for younger children but it seems to be more difficult for a teenager,’ says Zach Dixon, 12, who tried out a skating lesson with two of his friends for Time Out Kids. ‘We need somewhere we can get together and have fun.’
The lesson begins with the basics of balancing on the board, but as the boys catch on quickly, it progresses to simple ollies and launching off from the top of the bowl, all under Bruno’s guidance. ‘I found it quite difficult to begin with as it was the first time I’d tried skating, but eventually I got the hang of it,’ says Zach.
Anyone can become a good skateboarder, adds Bruno, it’s all about commitment, knowledge, and a lot of patience. ‘The more you skate, the more confident you’ll become in doing tricks. It’s important to be confident in what you’re doing, and above all, to do it safely.’
For parents worried about sprains, bumps or (worse) broken bones, strapping on the necessary safety paraphernalia greatly reduces the risk, says Bruno. ‘Like most other sports, of course there are risks. However, as long as kids wear the correct safety gear (including helmet, knee pads and elbow pads), skate within their ability and practice with experienced riders, they’ll find skateboarding not only fun but also great physical exercise.’
It may be one of those sports where the health benefits come second to the actual fun to be had but still, skating is a fantastic medium-impact aerobic workout for all ages. As well as the leg movements and the running around, skating also improves general balance, steadiness and coordination – not to mention muscle flexibility, stamina and cardio.
‘It’s also important to remember that skating can really benefit kids on a social level too,’ adds Bruno. ‘Students become more confident, improve their social skills with other kids, and boost their self-esteem and communication.’
When it comes to socializing, Rage is going all out to support Dubai’s burgeoning skating community, with all manner of competitions, events and even professional sponsorships for skater dudes and babes of all ages, genders and nationalities to get involved. ‘For example, during summer we host the Bowl-O-Rampa which gives kids a chance to win cool prizes as they show off their skills,’ says Bruno. ‘I always strive to push my students to compete in such events since it’s a great way to express yourself and show what they’ve learned to the crowd.’
The Rage Bowl is open Sunday to Wednesday, 10am to 10pm, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 10am to 12am. Dhs25 (two-hour pass), Sunday-Wednesday 6pm-8pm, happy hour is free. Lessons run from 4pm-8pm every day. Visit www.rage-shop.com (04 434 1549).