by Jeff Gammage, Inquirer Staff Writer
Some free advice from rapping, rhyming Skatewoman:
Hold the magic table to keep you stable, bend your knees to absorb the G’s.
You get the drift. So push off and go.
Scores of people will do just that starting at 11 a.m. Friday, during the Memorial Day-weekend opening of the new outdoor roller-skating rink on the Delaware River. The beach-themed rink looks to be a party on wheels, drawing the novice and expert to its smooth, confetti-patterned floor.
Keep an eye out for Skatewoman – a skating-teaching star who in real life is Jen Goldstein, a forty-something financial officer who has rounded a thousand rinks in a thousand places.
“It was something that I could do whenever I wanted, and it gave me the freedom that nothing else gave me,” said Goldstein, who lives and skates near the Art Museum.
Her students range from kids to seniors, some wanting to recapture the rolling joy of youth, some desperate to impress a girlfriend. Others learn to skate by watching her SKATE 101 DVD, which features 30 instructional videos and cartoons set to rap, funk, and dance music. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, Goldstein likes to say she rhymes like Dr. Seuss and reasons like Sir Isaac Newton.
She created the comic-book-like Skatewoman character – complete with flowing purple cape and gold SW on the chest – with help from an artist friend, to give form and color to the concept of learning to skate.
Today an estimated 40 million Americans skate for fun, friendship, and health, a renaissance that intrigued officials here. They saw a successful example not far away, at Pier 2 Roller Rink at Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York.
“We’re really excited about opening weekend,” said Emma Fried-Cassorla, spokeswoman for the Delaware River Waterfront Corp.
Both the rink and nearby Spruce Street Harbor Park will be open every day through the end of September.
Independence Blue Cross sponsors the RiverRink Summerfest, and Univest/Valley Green Bank presents Spruce Street Harbor Park.
The rink sits on the same site as the winter ice rink, which last year drew about 100,000 people. It features high-quality flooring, a shady grass island in the center, and an overhead tent of lights to lend atmosphere at night.
Goldstein has been skating since she was 7, growing up in South Florida, where anytime of year was a good time to hit the pavement. As friends grew up and out of skating, she stayed with it.
“I’ve always kept it convenient,” she said. “I’ve always lived near a place where I can skate. I try to get skater friends, surround myself with skaters. I always keep [my skates] ready to go.
“It’s a great social activity. You don’t realize you’re working out because it’s so much fun.”
She skates 30 to 50 miles on the weekends, covering Kelly Drive and its environs. Or she’ll visit an indoor rink. She switches between quad and in-line skates, enjoying the subtle differences between them.
“I’m probably the most uncoordinated, unathletic person you’ve ever met,” she said. “But because I could skate, I thought there must be physics behind it. I started writing songs to spell that out.”
Hence, hold the magic table – position your arms slightly forward, at about shoulder width. In classes, she teaches students how to gear up, get up, stand up, turn, stop – and fall safely, since that’s going to happen.
The rhymes keep young and old students engaged, and make it easy for them to remember the instruction.
“If I can do this, anybody can do it,” Goldstein said. “I know that’s a saying, but in this case it’s true. . . . I skate every time I can get a ride to the rink.