Ice skating is an excellent form of aerobic exercise, burning an average of 350 to 450 calories per hour for an average-size woman. It's also a good way to make new friends -- adult figure skaters are an exceptionally supportive bunch. The U.S. Figure Skating Association sanctions adult skating clinics and group lessons, as well as competitions at all levels and club recitals, where you can show off your graceful moves and glitziest dress. Before you express yourself through skating, you'll need to learn how to master a few basic moves.
Falling is inevitable. It may seem counter-intuitive, but learning how to fall without getting hurt is the first thing you need to master. If you feel yourself falling, try to relax, bend your knees and avoid falling on your face or head. Try landing on your bottom, as it has the most padding; finally, there's a good use for cellulite! Get up immediately after you fall, both to let other skaters know you're alright and to prevent them from crashing into you.
A snowplow stop can keep you from crashing into people and is the simplest way to stop. Slowly skate forward with your knees slightly bent. Angle your toes so that they are pointing toward each other, as if you are pigeon-toed. Then, making sure you are using the straight flat part of the blade, push outward with either one or both feet, so that you form ice shavings and come to a halt.
Begin by mastering the two-foot glide. Relax your body with your knees slightly bent, arms out to your sides, take several small steps forward and then glide by resting on the blades as they move forward on the ice. Once you have mastered the two-foot glide, practice gliding forward on one foot the same way. Take a few small steps and then balance on one foot, gracefully gliding across the ice.
The next important basic move is forward swizzles. Start with your heels touching and toes pointing outward in a plié position with your hands stretched out slightly in front. Bend your knees and push forward using the inside edge of the blades, squeezing your thigh muscles and bringing your feet in together while pulling up. Make sure to tuck your hips in for a good skating posture.
Bonnie Crowe is a mother of two teenagers; a teacher and author of children's books, curriculum and articles on English grammar, literature, technology, art, parenting and career guides for high schoolers. She's a former director of AOL Parenting, a member of SCBWI, and a graduate from the University of California,Berkeley.