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Today’s post is brought to you by Matthew McGarry
We often look for freedom in our creative endeavors, on our professional path, with our close ones and significant others. But this fickle, impervious concept comes mostly from within our deepest self, and it can be experienced in the places you least expect it. Some find relief and comfort in returning to their ballet lessons, while others seek refuge in taekwondo or krav maga.
But the recently rising trend of skateboarding seems to me as so much more than an echo of the hipster youth that craves another way to stimulate their easily-bored minds and yet another exciting exercise routine. Sure, it can be just that to some, but most see in it as that same freedom of expression their inner children yearn for. And this is just scratching the surface of how many purposes this simple, but exhilarating activity has for its equally numerous fans.
Leave your comfort zone
Have you ever tried testing your boundaries by trying your hand (or feet in this case) at something completely unknown? Such as a new dance, actually taking part in a karaoke night, or cooking a complex recipe? When you try balancing your first slide down the street on a long board, you will quickly realize what it means to think on your feet.
You’ll likely feel muscles you never even knew existed, and struggle even with the basics of maintaining a solid gliding tempo. Then come the uphill battles, the turning, twisting, jumping and more complex stunts reserved for the playground. But don’t be surprised to find yourself laughing out loud every time you almost (or fully) perform a perfect pavement faceplant. It’s your inner kid remembering what it feels like to learn how to walk.
A new perspective
The same old streets in your neighborhood will suddenly appear different, and so will the houses, sharp corners and street lights. And don’t get me started on the traffic jams and maneuvering your way through a crowd of oblivious teens with their noses buried in their smartphones. You will learn about every crack and rock you come across, and find new relevance in lamp posts as a breaking tool.
But even more importantly, skateboarding is a powerful way to root yourself in the moment, feel every inch of your skin and devote all of your otherwise fleeting attention to this single activity. You will start noticing the wind, the passing flowers, and let go of future-oriented problem-solving for once. It can truly be your Hakuna Matata.
Whether your weapon of choice is a shortboard for testing your agility, or the cruiser longboard for turning your dull walk to work into a fun ride down town, you can turn your skateboard into your tiny work of art. Think of it as a canvas, one that will be used, bruised and scratched in the years to come, but that you can build on your own.
All the way down to finding the perfect skateboard wheels for your ride, and picking your favorite deck colors, it can be an extension of your personality. And as you learn new moves, every day abandoning your comfort zone a bit at a time, you will find it to be an infinite source of inspiration, to try and invent new moves, building your endurance, but also your creative spirit.
An all-around challenge
Finally, don’t underestimate the sport – it’s an incredible workout for your entire body as well as your mind, ideal for boosting your cardiovascular endurance, toning your legs and glutes, and strengthen your core. Perhaps even more importantly, the skateboard will constantly challenge your learning ability, and put you in situations that require finding the best solution on the spot, with no time to ponder.
Those who’ve been in the sport since their childhood know well that this is the epitome of meditation on the move, letting you focus on your breathing, movement, and fully focus on the present moment. When you find your rhythm and your safe haven in this playful sport, you will realize why so many find in it the liberation of all the shackles of the modern world and use it to seek and enjoy their freedom.
Mathews McGarry is passionate about many forms of strength training and has spent years lifting, dragging and flipping all manner of heavy objects. After graduating from the Faculty of Health Sciences, he started writing about his experiences, and sharing tips for a better life. He is an all-around fitness adviser and his words are strong as an Australian Bull. You can follow him on his fitness blog Ripped.me, on Twitter and on Facebook.