Whether you love it or dread it, just about everyone has an opinion on “winter”. I’m convinced that a lot of our feelings about the season are formed during childhood. For me, growing up on a small lake meant winters filled with ice skating (& hot cocoa!). And while there are lots of lakes, ponds & public skating facilities, there’s nothing like having your own backyard ice rink - it’s the winter equivalent of having a pool in your yard!
Ice Skating for Exercise
Ice skating is a fun, inexpensive activity that’s a great source of exercise for the whole family:
- Works / tones all the major muscle-groups
- Is a great aerobic / cardiovascular workout
- Can increase endurance & balance
- Has a high “fitness factor” since skaters are nearly always in motion
Ice skating also increases a person’s confidence & mental awareness. And since skating involves action, it’s entertaining & helps ward off the cold – so you can stay outdoors longer, and more comfortably than with other outdoor winter exercises.
Building a Backyard Ice Rink
There are tons of options to choose from! While some adventurous types craft a rink themselves, building it “from scratch” can take lots of time & effort. Thankfully, there are affordable Backyard Ice Rink Kits that make it super-easy to create an outdoor ice rink in very little time. This can be an excellent project for the whole family. And when you consider the potential number of hours a backyard ice rink could be used, it’s a great value, too.
Which type of Backyard Ice Rink Kit you choose depends on factors such as the size of your yard, the age & interest level of skaters in your home, budget, and weather conditions. And remember – an outdoor ice rink doesn’t require below-freezing temperatures all the time, just overnight. And with a few well-chosen Ice Grooming Tools and a few tricks (like covering the ice surface with a tarp when it’s not in use) you can maintain a good surface even when temperatures creep into the 40's during the day.
Get Outside on your Backyard Ice Rink!
Everyone will need a good-fitting pair. Skates come in a 3 varieties – figure, hockey & speed. For new skaters, figure skates are best. They provide better support and are easier for learning the basics. Choose a good-fitting boot for adequate ankle support (should allow some flexibility, but not be too loose or stiff). For children, buy a pair that fits – not one they’ll “grow into”. This is important for safety, comfort and to help ensure a good first experience. A few final skate tips: (1) figure skates normally run about a half-size smaller than shoe-size, (2) it seems illogical, but when skating (and trying on skates), wear thinner socks, not thicker, and (3) make sure skaters can wiggle their toes inside the skates, for balance & warmth. Safety Equipment
Remember the age-old skating rule – if you’re gonna skate, you’re gonna fall! Skaters should wear a protective helmet (like for bicycling, skateboarding), or at minimum a thick winter hat. In addition, hockey skaters should always don protective pads and a mouthpiece to avoid injury. Dress for Warmth & Comfort
Choose your outdoor clothing with comfort in mind versus style. Clothes should keep you warm, allow your body to move freely, and provide some level of protection in a fall.
Learn the Basics
From toddler to senior, everyone can learn to ice skate! You can start with a few professional skating lessons or learn / teach others on your own. * First, practice how to fall safely & get back up, then practice how to stop. * Marching or walking is a good way to get accustomed to ice skates – gliding can come later. * Use a Skating Aid, or tall bucket that novice skaters can lean on as they gain balance & confidence.
I hope your family will consider an outdoor ice skating kit this winter ~ we've already spent many hours skating around our backyard ice rink. This year we added an outdoor heater next to the "referee's bench" - to keep our non-skaters warm, and involved in the outdoor fun. If you are a snowbelt resident, you'll be surprised at how a simple backyard ice rink can bring a community together.
Note: We no longer carry backyard ice rinks :-(
SPP Pool Enthusiast