What I Learned In Ice Skating Class

Yesterday, I finished the ice skating class I took at the university. My final included me performing a routine to “Shut Up and Dance With Me” (best song ever, by the way). Yes, I know, you wish you could have been there. But let me tell you that I was the worst one in the class. Don’t think I’m being humble. I’m just being honest. I’m a terrible ice skater. My final routine included mainly skating forward, doing one turn, and stopping while skating. The teacher told me to skip the other stuff. I did fall down in the first two seconds, but then I got up and did the rest pretty well.


Once a year growing up, my cousin and I would be dropped off at the mall to go ice skating. Every year, we got our rental skates all tied up and we inched onto the ice. Our first lap around the rink was spent clinging to the wall. By the second lap, we were only touching the wall, and by the third time around, we were pros again. Every year we had to relearn how to ice skate. We would stay for hours and by the end of our time on the ice, we would be jumping and twirling. We watched the kids practicing in the center of the rink and we tried to mimic their moves. Since we had just recently moved from clinging to the wall, these attempts were not without risk. Many falls occurred. Once, my cousin fell so hard she just stayed down crying. The teenage rink attendant, in an attempt to make her laugh (I can only assume), yelled: “Are you okay? Are you constipated?” Within minutes of each fall, we were back up and attempting to jump again.

Fast forward 20 years and that same me gets out on the ice. A lot has happened since those mall days. I’ve had three kids which has changed me personally and physically. When I get back out on that ice, I realize how much I’ve changed. Though I don’t cling to the wall on my first lap, I also never attempt to jump. I’ve landed permanently somewhere in the middle. Life has given me confidence to step onto the ice and move forward without needing a safety. I’ve accomplished a lot and am proud of many things I’ve been able to do. But life has also given me enough falls to know how much falling hurts. And knowing how much it hurts keeps me from jumping at all.

When my kids step onto the ice, I see that magic return of getting onto the ice with my cousin as a kid. When one of my daughters was two, we headed to Potter’s Marsh before the first snowfall. My oldest got on her skates and headed out. She was wobbly but there was no wall, so she just stood up and skated. My two-year-old didn’t have skates, but she quickly figured out the capabilities of boots on ice and was exploding herself all over the marsh. She ran and slid and fell. Then she giggled, got up, and did it all again. By taking the risk of getting on the ice at all, we get the opportunity to see things we can’t see from the boardwalk. We saw ice bubbles frozen in formation and fish swimming under our feet.

Ice Skating is a part of life for my children. My oldest ice skates at school for recess. On Christmas Eve, we join throngs at a local lake with Christmas music on boom boxes and fire in the burn barrels and skate around as a family. My son rides in the sled. I still may not jump, but I’m more confident in moving forward. I still remember how much it hurts to fall, but I also remember that I’ve done hard things and the falls don’t happen every time. If I skate in constant memory of the pain of falling, I fall. I have to remember the falls, but focus instead on moving forward remembering the magic of skating. If I focus on falling, I miss the fish beneath my feet and the magic of seeing my daughter discover how fast she can slide with just her boots. I miss my son’s giggle riding behind his ice skating dad in a sled. That slight boost of confidence has given me back some of the magic of my childhood mall skating sessions. I know now that I’m not Olympic material like I thought then, but I can try things that are hard and not fall… most of the time.

Ice Skating


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  1. I think the best lessons are learned from failures. I’m a big proponent of letting kids struggle a bit and take positive risks in school. And I think this is true for adult life as well. Grit is a really underrated quality IMHO.

    • MaggieBanks

      Grit is a great quality and very important, I agree. The struggle leads to excellent confidence!

  2. Why do we fall? So we learn to pick ourselves up. I think I heard that in the first Christian Bale Batman movie. Our failures make us stronger. Sounds like you did a wonderful job on the ice yesterday to that awesome song 😉

    Mrs. Mad Money Monster

    • MaggieBanks

      It definitely was a fun class. But falling does still hurt! And I’m still pretty horrible. 🙂

  3. I find it really interesting that they have ice skating at school in Alaska – pretty cool! Good job toughing out the class to get better at something that is necessary for so many family activities. I promised the kids that we would go ice skating this year, but am still researching the cheapest options for ice and skate rentals.

    • MaggieBanks

      It’s totally cool she gets to skate at school. I’m still amazed by it myself. And it takes some major PTA backing to get enough parents there to tie skates for recess! It’s a fun thing to do with kids. My skating teacher said if kids feel comfortable on the ice before they’re old, they’re so much ahead because falling doesn’t hurt as much when they’re young so they’re not all psyched out like we adults are.

  4. Hi Maggie. New reader here. Kudos for putting yourself out there by taking a class that includes performing a routine! It makes my arm pits sweat just thinking about doing that…but these are also the types of moments where I feel most alive. I look forward to more of your posts!

    • MaggieBanks

      I really wasn’t nervous until the song started and I realized how fast I would have to skate! Then I got all hyper and couldn’t calm down, so as soon as I stepped out, I fell flat on my back! Then I was able to compose myself and get it done… performing doesn’t scare me… but being on ice and skating fast sure does!

  5. Beautifully said. When I went snowboarding for the first time at 18, I did it all. Sped down hills, attempted jumps and rode down the advanced slope (something I was NOT ready for) The next day, my knees were the color blue and had tripled in size. For the next two weeks, I was in pain and it sucked.

    When I went again a few years later, I stuck to the beginner slopes (and sometimes snuck onto the intermediate as well…I couldn’t resist 😉 ) But it was a MUCH better experience and one that didn’t result in extreme pain. So basically, I relate to this on a very personal level, haha. Happy Friday, Maggie! 🙂

    • MaggieBanks

      Excellent example Taylor. I wish I still had some of that vigor I had when I wasn’t scared to fall and hurt myself badly, but I also am not a complete idiot anymore… so… pros and cons I guess. 🙂

  6. Congratulations on finishing the class, Maggie! I too, agree that Shut Up & Dance is an amazing song. 🙂 Falling is what makes us recognize that we have the strength to persevere. Falling puts us into situations where we must overcome our fears & make decisions. This is such a great lesson that you are sharing, and I like how it’s branched into other parts of your life from memories, to your family & your own willpower. 🙂

  7. Things are never as scary or as hard or as impossible as we think they are, before we try them. And, as you say, there are magical things to discover, even if it’s every single time you step on the ice. 🙂

  8. That song is how I start my house clean each time. Haha. Love it!

    • MaggieBanks

      I’m so glad to hear that. We play it really loud around here a lot… and then have a discussion with the kids after we all sing it about how we don’t say “shut up” because it’s rude. 🙂

  9. I’ve found learning from falling, in many aspects of life is some of the best education I’ve gotten. You learn your limits, how far you’re willing to risk the next fall, and you learn how strong you are when you come back from each fall. Like you mentioned, if you stay in the memory of the pains associated with those falls, you keep falling. Great post!

    • MaggieBanks

      I agree with you… and the falling itself is never fun (I’m STILL sore!), but the outcome is usually more amazing than if we never fell!

  10. It is so super awesome that you’re doing this! Who cares if you aren’ t jumping and twirling — it’s the doing that matters. It’s completely normal to get fearful as we get older, or to avoid the pain of injury, but that fear often paralyzes so many of us. The fact that you’re strapping blades to your feet and getting there deserves you a major round of applause, even if you’ll never win world championships. With skiing, which is my “scary sport,” it’s so easy to want to default to the intermediate runs, especially because I know that I could really hurt myself (and have had some bumps and bruises over the years). But I think it’s important to keep stretching our comfort zone, especially as we get older, so that we don’t end up doing nothing, because everything seems scary. So at least one run each day I ski, I try to push myself just a little… I’m always the worst one on that slope, and I’m sure I’ve been laughed at plenty from the chairlift, but who cares?! 🙂

    • MaggieBanks

      Thanks ONL! And skiing… yeah, I’m not a daredevil there either. But I agree that pushing ourselves and getting out of our comfort zones is what gets us to amazing places!

  11. I was thinking about taking risks the other day and how I don’t take many physical risks. The fear of getting hurt in some manner is probably exactly why I don’t. Yet I have taken lots of other risks in my life, most of them tied to brain power such speaking at a conference, applying for and switching jobs, trying something new in my job or in my home life. I feel I have more control over those risks than over physical risks, and I am really proud of them. Other people are just the opposite and will go for the physical risk and resulting adrenaline rush. Kuddos to you for taking a physical risk re-learning to skate and being willing to perform!

    • MaggieBanks

      I’m totally with you Lisa. I’m STILL totally sore from falling at the beginning of my final performance at ice skating! I am much more apt to take non-physical risks. And I’m happier with the outcomes of those kinds of risks… I’m cool with not being able to do a triple axle… 🙂

  12. We love skating – we live in a city with a beautiful new ice skating rink (& Christmas Tree lit up for the season). My new hobby is also on ice – I joined a curling league with some old friends from high school. It has also been filled with life lessons!

    • MaggieBanks

      It’s a great winter activity… and when you have free, frozen lakes… all you have to do is buy used skates! I’ve always wanted to try curling!

  13. Awesome life lessons here! Also, I wish I was able to take a class like this in school!

    • MaggieBanks

      Thanks Marc. My work is paying for me to take any class at the university so I have access to the library resources. So, I picked ice skating! Total win!

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