It had been a very long time since we hired skates and went ice skating, so it was with some trepidation that we approached the rink at Zayed Sports City. It was a strange but welcome feeling, stepping into the chill from the 42°C heat outside. It was one of the only times we have needed a jumper in Abu Dhabi.
Our lesson began with a stretching session, which was a good way to kick off seeing as we weren’t quite ready to hit the ice yet. So we made our way over to the outside of the rink, carefully on our skates, and stood in line. We started with dynamic stretches (which aren’t that easy on the ice let us tell you) – we lifted our legs out behind us, to the right and then the left, and tried not to fall over. This was then repeated with our arms and we tried again not to overbalance. After this we were set and ready to get out there.
Being diagnosed as an absolute beginner we watched as the more experienced skaters glided elegantly off to the other side of the rink to learn how to skate backwards and all sorts of other fancy moves. We began our lesson with the essentials – how to point your skates into a ‘V’ and move forward, then how to gather speed. The most difficult was learning the technique of swishing the blades together into an ‘A’ shape and grinding to a halt.
The instructors will teach you how to fall without hurting yourself, since crashing down on to your tailbone or your hands really hurts, and can be quite dangerous. Tips we gathered included bending our knees on the inevitable way down, and a speedy way to get back up on our feet after a tumble.
After only a short while our skating had greatly improved and we were amused at how that old familiar feeling comes back to you – similar to riding a bike. The session was also good exercise because keeping your balance works all your core muscles and skating tones up your legs and improves coordination too. Skating is a great way to meet people and is lots of fun. This would also be a great, and rather hilarious activity, to try with your friends. The class is open to everyone, whether it’s your first time out on the ice or you’re already pretty confident whizzing around on those blades.
The refurbished ice rink at Zayed Sports City is literally one of the coolest places in the city for sports over the summer. It’s a great place to head if you are starting to feel the heat and if you’ve never tried ice skating it’s a very good place to learn. They offer a ladies-only day on Thursday so grab a group of your girlfriends and give it a try. There is no need for advance booking, unless you want to hire the rink for your own private group, you can just show up, rent some skates and start whizzing round on the ice.
Ice rink at Zayed Sports City. Opening times vary and prices vary, for a full list of times and prices see www.zsc.ae (02 403 4200).