How to start skateboarding no matter how old you are
If Aunty Skates can do it, so can you!
Sure, skate parks are filled with tribes of teens and tweens shredding the day away as they should. But look closer, and you’ll see things are changing. Maybe only slightly, but skateboarding is being taken up by adults, by a wider cross-section of individuals, and that’s pretty sweet. Case in point Oorbee Roy, a Toronto designer by day and skateboarder pretty much the rest of the time.
Roy took up skateboarding in 2018 as a 43-year-old mom. She did it for her kids. And she is chronicling her rad journey on Tik Tok where she goes by Aunty Skates.
Her TikTok account on which she developed her South Asian aunty character to inspire others and document her progress has garnered 20,000 followers in just a few months. She had done a similar thing on Instagram for years before switching to Tik Tok, but once she did and once she added Aunty Skates, it took off.
“It resonated so quickly with so many people!” she says. “I'm just so happy about that.”
For Roy, skateboarding was an opportunity to not just sit on the sidelines and watch her kids and husband have all the fun. So she jumped in with both feet.
“Even though my husband has been skating off and on since he was a child, I just thought it was too late for me,” she says. “But when I saw my kids get on a board, I didn't want to be the mom sitting there taking pictures of other people having fun, so I got on a board and loved it immediately!”
She said, when she took it up the most challenging part was also the most basic. Getting comfortable balancing and moving on the skateboard.
“Since I'm an adult skateboarder, I have no muscle memory from skating when I was younger,” Roy says. “I am a grown woman, stepping on a skateboard and trying not to fall. That in itself was the most challenging.”
Roy says she took a couple of lessons from a Toronto women’s group, Babes Brigade, which gave her enough confidence to go out and shred on her own, often on a 5-ft ramp in her backyard alongside her husband and kids.
“I pushed myself really hard in the beginning and was able to progress very quickly,” she says. “But for all the peaks, there are a ton of plateaus. To be honest, I sometimes embrace the plateaus and just ride because my body needs a break. Then when it's time to progress, I mentally prepare and put in the work.”
Roy says when taking up an activity like skateboarding that maybe isn’t as natural and easy for adults as it might be for some pimply-faced youth with no fear and high pain tolerance, it is important not to compare yourself to other people and their progress.
“Skateboarding is about having fun!” she says. “I fell a lot for the first year I was skateboarding and was constantly bruised and achy. I still fall but have learned how to fall properly (sliding on my knees), so that helps a lot.”
Roy suggests when starting out, to go to a local skate shop and ask them to set you up with a new board and safety gear.
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“Skate communities are small so they can point you in the direction of local groups you can join or get lessons (or two) from,” she says. “Head to a skatepark earlier in the day, before the heavy sessions start, there are always adult skaters there willing to give some advice.”
It’s not that it’s all good times. There are plenty of crashes on her Tik Tok, including one where she drops in and rolls straight through a door.
“I have a love-hate relationship with the fear factor of skateboarding,” Roy admits. “On the one hand, I love overcoming my fear of trying something new but on the other hand, I wonder why I subject myself to the torture. However, the adrenaline rush I get after overcoming fear is always worth it.”
In the end, for Roy, skateboarding is a lot of things, but mostly it’s about family.
“There are so many things I love about skateboarding but what I love the most is skating with my family,” she says. “We cheer each other on, have friendly competitions, spend time outdoors together, learn from each other. It's the best.”
Roy says it was important for her, and likely the same for any older adult taking up skateboarding, to understand her own limits.
“At 46 years old, I can't keep up with my kids,” she says. “They can skate eight hours a day, every day, but I am just not able to do that.”
She also spends a significant amount of time stretching before a session.
So far, Roy is concentrating mostly on transition skating but has learned a slew of tricks including ollies, drop-ins, slash grinds, axel stalls, feebles, rock to fakies, tail stall, half cab, rock ‘n’ roll, and 80 spins.
Roy’s plan is to progress for the next five years, learn as many tricks and skills as she can, and then “ride the wave,” into the 60s
If you’re interested in taking up this fun and exciting sport, check out Aunty Skates online or at a local Toronto skate park.
“You'll always find me at the skate park (and online) encouraging people to get on a board, try a new trick, or just cheering people on and supporting them,” Roy says. “I get messages every day from people all over the world telling me they started skateboarding because of me. This makes me so unbelievably happy!”
Roy says Aunty Skates is all about spreading joy and positivity by breaking down barriers and opening up the possibilities on how to live your best life.
“If Aunty can do it, you can do it!”