Friday, March 26, 2010

Ask the Ice Moms: Where Can I Find an Adult-Friendly Figure Skating Club?

Today's question comes from a frustrated adult figure skater. Here's what she wrote:

I am an adult skater who started skating about a year ago. However, I am really into it and want to compete eventually. I am finding it hard to find a coach who takes me seriously! It seems to be all about the younger skaters. I mean, I understand that they are the ones with "potential," but I am giving them money too. And I want to give MORE money. Every time I try to join a class or get an extra lesson in, the younger skaters come first. Three times the adult classes have been canceled because "not enough signed up." I don't understand why I cannot just skate around with the 13 year olds. Are there any rinks that are more adult friendly? I just graduated college and I'm willing to try to find a job near better rinks (as long as I like the area, etc). Or is there some way I can be taken more seriously?
From PairsMom, the mother of a pairs skater. She lives in USFSA's Southwestern Region.
Maybe get on the USFSA website and contact the Adult Skating rep. for her region (area) and they can put her in touch with a coach that is teaching adults or at least be able to tell her which rinks offer adult classes. This would be a relatively simple thing to do and probably a good starting place.  
From Ice Coach, who is in the Upper Great Lakes Region.
This tends to be the case with a lot of rinks/coaches. I know specific coaches that will only take younger kids because they feel older ones are not going anywhere. As in a lot of cases you have to find a coach who will work with your goals. There are some coaches out there that have their own goals & agendas (getting kids to Regionals/Sectionals or higher) that they don’t really bother with adults or people that don’t fit with that goal.

 I think our rink is the most adult friendly I have seen. It seems like if you get a couple of adult skaters and then more will gravitate towards that rink. J.C.U had the adult only session Thursday nights last year and that was very nice. The only problem was filling the ice, but I know the adults really appreciated it. As far as Learn to Skate, I never have a full adult class, but I also will never cancel a class if one person signs up. What usually happens is the one adult will tell another and then next session I will have 4 or 5 adults in class. Plus many of them like to learn along w/ their kid. I hope that helps.
From Xan, a figure skating coach who started as an adult. She blogs at Xanboni! and lives in the Upper Great Lakes Region.
Absolutely a rink should be friendly to adults, and if an adult class gets canceled, most rinks will  let you skate around with the kids. I have never heard of a rink that cancels an adult class and then just tells the adults they can't skate. Every day I hear some new insanity. Some rinks manage to develop better adult programs than others, usually because there's a coach that's into them. This skater should just start skating at every rink she can reach, during any adult skate time (often noon public skates) and just start talking up the adult skaters she sees. She'll soon find the rink with the great program.  As far as relocating, the Chicago area has lots and lots of adult skaters. Come join us! :)
From S.F., who also lives in the Upper Great Lakes Region.

I forwarded this to my ice coach. This was her advice: 
LTS classes may be canceled due to low attendance at any level.  Interview coaches and talk to them about your goals. Choose one that wants to help you. 

I personally see quite a few adults on ice at our rink. They work on MIF/Freestyle and dance. They usually aren't on the ice after school gets out but usually skate in the early afternoon or during the adult freestyle that we have at our rink. Adult freestyle ice is Sat am 7 to 8 and Sun pm 5:30 to 6:30pm. 
 We recently had a test session where a club member took her adult pre-bronze MIF test and she is in her late 70's early 80's. We also have an ice dancer in her late 40's that has been skating about 4-5 years and is working on Pre-gold dances and just tested her prepre and prelim MIF. So I believe that ice coach is right. Interview coaches and talk to them about what the skater wants to accomplish and see if they are willing to help the adult skater achieve their goals.
From Kel, who lives in the Upper Great Lakes Region.

I really feel for this skater. It is difficult to "break in" as a new skater as an adult. I would strongly ask around and find a coach that is interested in taking on an adult student. This will allow her to advance more quickly, as I'm sure she's willing and interested in making the extra effort to practice the skills she's learned.  Finding the right coach is key -- I'd suggest she ask around. Once she finds the right coach, she'll fly. 
From J.C.U., a competitive adult figure skater who won a silver medal at last year's Adult Championships. She is also a figure skating coach who lives in the Upper Great Lakes Region.

Certain clubs and rinks have more opportunities for adults than others. A few that come to mind are Cincinnati OH, Grand Rapids, MI, Minneapolis/St Paul MN and most of the clubs in the Skating Council of Illinois. The adult figure skating population is the second fastest growing group, second only to synchro. I think adults are often not taken as seriously as the youngsters because of the demand careers and families make. Adults tend to take breaks from skating more often than the kids. Instead of looking for group lessons, I'd encourage you to find a private coach who is coaching or who has coached other adults. Ask the potential coach if they've had any students compete at Adult Championships. Your money will be well spent in one-on-one lessons with the right person. Be sure to have "trial lessons" with any coach before you commit. Good Luck! 

These responses are heavily weighted to the Upper Great Lakes Region, but only three are from the same rink area.

Readers? Can you help this skater? Do you have a vibrant adult program at your rink? Please share the knowledge in the comments. Naming rinks or clubs is a very nice thing to do.

Do you have a question for the Ice Moms? Do you have an idea for a post you'd like to see? Are you an expert and want to share your knowledge? That's terrific! E-mail me at!

Ice Mom's Summer Camp Survey


Anonymous said...

My daughter's coach has a few adult skaters whom she gives lessons to during the public skating times at our rink. I know that one of the adults is getting ready for another test in the USFSA. We are on Cape Cod, in Massachusetts...not a bad place to relocate to! lol

sk8rmom.p said...

Not in the Upper Great Lakes Region, but far away LOL :)

We have adult skaters at our rink, lots of them are in dance, but we also have some free-style skaters as well. I have heard that there is difficulty getting some coaches to take you seriously, but if you persist, you will find one or two or three who are more than willing to help you. Keep talking to adult skaters that you meet, go on message boards and ask for recommendations of coaches in your area. They are out there.

I think that you might have to go with private lessons rather than group classes unless you are very lucky for reasons mentioned above in the post. The adult skaters I know all take privates.
Good luck!

Skittl1321 said...

I think I'm UGL too :(

The clubs around here are plenty adult friendly- if you have the skill to skate on their sessions, you're welcome to skate. I haven't had any trouble at all in LTS or club shows as an adult.

Since the questioner appears to be a young adult (just graduated college?) I think she'll find a lot less discrimination by clubs then if she were a much older adult.

LTS isn't a club thing here- but I took classes with adults for the first few basic levels (I started at basic 3, and took 4 and 5 with adults too) and then moved to skating with kids. Adult classes seem to focus a lot of energy on getting a few stragglers off the wall, and levels are often combined. Once again, especially as a young adult, skating with the kids isn't so bad.

Anonymous said...

I'm in Wisconsin. I know our rink loves skaters of all ages! I see many adults on the ice. I know they have their own night class but I also see them on the ice during open ice times. Everyone seems to get along just fine.

Good Luck!

StupidDad said...

My daughter is 10 years old and she is doing competitive Figure Skating. I have hardly seen any adult(20+) figure skaters skate in our rink during the freestyle session.

So I have this question in mind for a while. How many "Kids(20-)" will still do figure skating REGULARLY after they went to college? When I say regularly, I meant at least once a week, not once every few months.

We spent 10K+/year on this "Sports/Hobby". What makes me worry is the shelf-life of this hobby. Compare to dancing(ballet/ballroom etc...) which have a much longer shelf-life, people can still enjoy it "regularly" in their adult life.

Ice Mom, may be this can be a topic for your future post or survey. :>


Stephanie said...

Eastern Great Lakes region here. I've been a member of Winter Club of Indianapolis since 2001 (I think), and we're very adult-friendly, as are the other clubs/rinks in the area. There is a large adult skating community in the Chicago area, and Cincinnati and Dayton each have thriving adult skaters with welcoming clubs.

bethalice said...


Not trying to be snarky here, but how is that different from any other sport? What I mean is, I have seen skaters quit because their interests changed. I have also seen athletes in other sports do the same thing. A tiny percentage will ever make money at their sport - whatever sport that is. (I know you did not say anything about that, but just throwing it out there.)

There is far more to be gained from skating than learning how to look pretty on the ice.

Truly not trying to be snarky, but your question is the same question I ask myself whenever I do a budjet. LOL

Ice Mom said...

Hey, StupidDad.

Good, thought-provoking question, as always. When you write I always think that you might be Ice Dad.

I know that adult participation and opportunities for adult competitions are increasing.

I'm not a coach, I'm a mom, but I can tell you what I've seen. I've seen a 42-year-old woman work for and obtain her Axel. I've seen a current cancer patient participating in a group accelerated class (edge work and kick-the-skaters'-butts class).

Many adults pursue ice dancing which is more about footwork, edges,technique, and musicality.

Many college-age students in our college town attend the local Big Ten University. These gals skate with the university's figure skating club, participate on the university's synchronized skating team, teach Learn to Skate at area rinks, and move into coaching.

Many colleges are working on making synchronized skating a university sport with scholarships.

I can tell you Ice Girl's plan: test out of the levels and coach. It's a great part-time job for a college student or young working person. It pays well and coaches don't leave the rink smelling like fries.

You're right, though, StupidDad. This could be a whole post in itself.

Thank you very much for the idea.

Ice Mom

Anonymous said...

Bethalice said

A tiny percentage will ever make money at their sport - whatever sport that is.

This is true, for most sports but not in skating. In football or basketball you need to be a well accomplished professional athlete in the sport to coach and make good money.

In skating, if you can skate and have a basic understanding of the sport you can teach and make good $ doing it. Pre-Pre level or lower, you could teach learn to skate classes and make good $. I have seen coaches who have accomplished a Pre Pre level themselves coaching private lessons as well. Just because you havent passed all of your tests doesn't mean you can't coach, that is what PSA is for. On the contrary, just because you have passed all of your tests doesn't mean you can coach.

Anyway skating is a life long sport & passion for me and I'm sure any coach would agree. So yes it is worth all the $.

-Ice Coach

sk8rmom.p said...

Ice Dad,
IceBoy's coach says that a summer job at the ice rink during HS and College making upwards of $70 an hour will beat a job at McDonalds any day.

It helps me to think of ice skating like purchasing art. Someone very wise once told me not to purchase art as an investment, but to purchase it because you love it. The financial reward, if it happens is the icing on the cake.

IceBoy loves to skate (in the now). I know where he is after school, I know that he is in a positive activity that is keeping him mentally and physically challenged. If in the future it pays off for him financially, that's great, but that is not the reason we support him in this.

Also, back on topic, I witness many HS graduates come back to skating to keep fit and to finish the tests they may not have completed before they quit skating. It's an exercise habit that forms early and can serve children well when they become adults. Also, another wave comes back when they start to have young children.

BTW, I see many more of these young adults at public rinks rather than at freestyle sessions, since most don't have the disposable income for the pricey freestyle sessions.

Becky said...

Wow! I was beginning to feel the same way spending tons of money on a hobby, but now I can just look at it as job training since my daughters goal is to be a coach some day too. That is BRILLIANT :-)

Anonymous said...

I totally empathize with this... adult programs can be tough to find.

When I moved to a new city last year, I found a great Adult program by talking to the guy who realigned my skate blades. Skate shops can be a great resource... they see many of the skaters in the area, usually know what's going on at the rinks, know the coaches and club reps, and who to contact. I left with a few numbers and even info on some clubs that weren't listed through Skate Canada (because the web site sucks).

Hope that helps!

Jillybean said...

Stupid Dad,
You mentioned ballet and ballroom as having a "longer shelf life" than skating. Since skating is more of an individual sport, one can go and skate whenever they wish, and not have to worry about finding an adult ballet class or a partner for ballroom.
I know many adult skaters who will go skate on their lunch hour and I have seen several skaters who enjoy their sport well into their 70s.
Many of the skaters from our area end up coaching. There are rinks very close to 4 universities in our state. These skaters are able to coach while attending classes, earning more than they would working with fast food, plus, coaching will most likely have a more flexible schedule than any other part time job.
There are some skaters who quit when they go to college, however, more often than not, we end up seeing them back in the sport in one form or another.
They can always become judges too.

Anonymous said...

The best way to find an adult friendly club is to find friendly adults. What I mean is to go to rinks, look for adults skating and approach them. Most of them will talk to you, or tell you who the person is that has all the info. When I skate publics, I am asked almost every single time where they can skate, take lessons, all sorts of questions.

There's a wide range of what adult skating is, from former kid skaters who are still competing in adult events at age 50, to 30 year old raw beginners to collegiate aged kids. Hopefully finding someone that looks "like you" will open some doors.

I get asked questions every time I skate.

Anonymous said...

To OP,
Try going to an adult skate camp in your area. Lake Placid has a wonderful adult skate camp that has two separate weeks during the summer. You can talk to other adults and find out who skates in your area and who teaches adults. The LP coaches LOVE teaching adults and you'll be around adult skaters of all ages and ability levels.

To StupidDad,
I'm 47 and still skating, testing and just started competing. I just got a bronze in my very first ever competition! I started skating when I could stand up and have been on the ice ever since. I trained for about 3 years when I was a kid and passed my first figure tests and started training again about three years ago. My mom learned to ice skate when she was about 20 so that she could skate in ice shows. She started training about ten years ago and has participated in two adult national competitions at which she medaled. She has passed adult MIF and FS bronze tests and is currently working on her silver dance tests. She is in her 70's and her friend that she skates with is in her 80's.

Her friend started skating in her 40's and is in the LP skating hall of fame since she changed the face of adult competition. I think last year was the first adult nationals she missed since she started skating.

We skate because we love it. I am blessed that I can now afford a coach and ice time that I couldn't when I was a kid. I'll take being on the ice any day over running on a treadmill in a gym. How boring!!!

Silver Blades

Anonymous said...

To answer IceMom's request for names of adult friendly clubs/venues:

Colonial FSC Acton MA
Stoneham FSC Stoneham MA
North Shore FSC Reading MA
Skating Club of Lake Placid LP NY (not to be confused with Lake Placid Skating which is an offshoot of ORDA)

I know Skating Club of Boston has a strong adult ice theatre program but don't know about other programs.

Colonial has a strong adult freestyle, synchro team and ice dance program.

NSFSC and Stoneham are freestyle only.

SCLP does dance, figures and freestyle. They used to have a synchro team which may make a come back if there is enough enthusiasm.

Summer Camps:

Silver Blades

Spin Girl said...

The best adult-friendly club I've seen is Kingsgate Skating Club in Kirkland, Wa. They have adult freestyles, adult edge and ice dance classes and super nice adult skaters!

My advice to the frustrated adult skater is if you can keep up with the kids then sign up for the kid class. If there isn't an age restriction on the class then you're welcome to participate.

Also, if your coach ever cancels or interupts your lesson for the benefit of another skater - younger/older/same age no matter - then find another coach. That's what I had to do. After 4 years with a coach who didn't take me seriously I switched and achieved my testing goals in 4 months.

Good luck!

youth said...

Wow.. This topic is nice. I can totally relate to this. I've been a coach for 3 years. There are times that as a coach i completely trust my student and there are also times that i just don't see any potential from them.