|Ni Shuxian (R) and five other members of her skateboarding group in Yinchuan Forest Park in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. [China Daily/Tian Manchao]|
In addition to physical benefits, women say sport makes them feel younger
Ni Shuxian always attracts onlookers when she skateboards in Yinchuan Forest Park in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.
The 46-year-old railway worker moves with ease on her board and can even do 360-degree spins.
She first took up competitive sports when she was 38 and exercises every day.
Ni usually goes to the park to skateboard between 6 and 8 am before work. After work, she goes canoeing or paddle boarding on the river.
"Skateboarding and exercise have become a part of my daily routine," she said, adding that she also used to want to surf. "When I went to the sea and saw people surfing some years ago, I was immediately drawn to it. I thought it was the most wonderful sport."
But the Ningxia capital is inland and does not have access to the sea, so she has to be content with "surfing" on land.
Ni said skateboarding is good for balance and helpful for snowboarding. She taught herself by watching videos and taking online classes. She quickly mastered the essentials and was able to skateboard within a week.
Her skills not only attract young onlookers, but also middle-aged and elderly women. She runs a skateboarding group for older women that now has six permanent members, with more joining on weekends.
|Ni practices in the forest park. [China Daily/Tian Manchao]|
Ni said the average age of the members is 50, with the oldest, a woman named Wang, age 57.
"The group includes both retirees and office workers, but we all skateboard every day," Ni said.
At first, Wang said she had concerns, fearing she could fall and break a bone.
"But learning to skateboard is a process that takes you from nervousness and fear to relaxation and control. I was able to skateboard easily after a week of practice," Wang said.
She said she is now trying to learn new skills to improve her style.
"In addition to health and happiness, skateboarding has made me confident and makes me feel younger," she said.
Wang joined the team at the beginning of April after seeing Ni's expertise with the board.
"And also because I wanted to have a try," she added.
|Ni teaches movements to two members of her group in the park. [China Daily/Tian Manchao]|
Hou Yun, a teacher at the Academy of Fine Arts at Ningxia University, said she felt lost and did not know what she would do when she retires until she saw Ni and her team skateboarding earlier this year while she was taking a walk in the park.
The 56-year-old, who will retire soon, said that she did not want to accept old age and declining health, or be left behind by changing times. She also said that she admires Ni's courage.
Hou joined the team and said that skateboarding is not exclusive to the young.
"You can't just put both feet on the board at once. You put a foot on one side of the skateboard first, and then put your other foot on it, and this way, you avoid falling over," Hou tells beginners, sharing her experience of learning to skateboard.
"As long as they can overcome their fear, it's not as difficult as it seems," she said.
Hou said that the team welcomes newcomers, as members can learn, exchange tips and help each other.
The women all said they feel more alive after taking up skateboarding. They also feel younger, both psychologically and physically. Ni said that the sport not only makes them happy, it also makes them healthy. "We will not stop skateboarding," she added.
Feng Xiaoyun and Xue Rui contributed to the story.
(Source: China Daily)
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