Written By

Nicola McKenzie

Here at TRTL, while we wait to start travelling again, we’re always on the lookout for ways to continue having adventures and new experiences at home. 

Someone who has most certainly taken that in their stride is Elly Phan — a Toronto-based software developer and extreme sports enthusiast who used Instagram to learn how to skate during maternity leave on lockdown. 

Our founder, Michael Corrigan, spoke to Elly about parenthood, learning a new skill, and life in lockdown.

First of all, you’re a new parent — Congratulations!

Thank you! He has just turned one, so I survived the first year. I was reflecting yesterday — It was a tough year, it went fast, and it threw up a lot of challenges, but he gave me the gift of being a mom and that’s the best gift I could ever have. 

That’s awesome. Being a new mum and dealing with pandemic —  how have you found that? 

Pre pandemic, I was building a community and connecting with other Moms, going for walks, swimming... When lockdown started here in March, we tried to stay in touch with online groups, but it was hard for everyone to stay responsive. It’s sad to reflect on — it was like Groundhog Day and I felt really lonely, you know?

How did that lead to you rollerskating?

I got into it on Instagram, just being on maternity leave and scrolling though. I started coming across girls jam skating [NB: a style of skating that combines dance and gymnastics]. I thought it looked fun and I’m all about fun things, so I got myself a pair of skates to try it!

Were you nervous?

I was. I was really intimidated and I thought, “How am I going to get into that big skate bowl? I don’t even know how to drop into it.” I was like a fish flopping around but it was a lot of fun and ever since that day, I haven’t looked back. I just thought, “This is it, I’m hooked.”

How did you go about getting all your equipment sorted?

At first, I just used my husband’s bike helmet (laughs). I didn’t think I needed pads, but after I started falling I was like “I need something better.” Protective equipment is really key: your kit starts off basic, but when you start learning new skills, you are gonna take harder falls. I see people on Instagram without any at all because they’re pretty confident but for me, as a Mom, I need to take care of a young one I can’t afford to bang my head and get a concussion, you know?

Over time, I gauged what my body needed and what was comfortable. Kind of like what I did with the TRTL Protect Mask — I was looking for a face mask to wear in the skate park, because the other ones that I have used like I can’t breathe in them at all. You have to find what’s right for you.

So how do you fit skating around your schedule? 

Being a mom, you just have to carve out that time for yourself. (At first) I was like... am I being selfish carving out this time for myself away from Jayden? Of course it’s ok! Skating has become this outlet for me — during and after I feel so good. Now that it’s colder, I have had to adjust my schedule. I’ve found a few indoor skate parks where I can go in the evenings before bedtime, so I go then, or head out at lunchtime when I know there will be fewer people around.

What would your tips be for people who want to take up a new sport like this? 

Don’t compare your progress to another person’s progress. I think that’s really important. Everyone progresses differently and you are always your worst critic, so don’t be too hard on yourself! 

I think that’s really cool. We can all be really tough on ourselves. I saw that when you spoke to Chatelaine in a recent interview, you said “I’ve learned that after you fall you need to keep on going until you are comfortable” and I love that.

Yeah, 100%. When I first dropped in on the bowl I fell and in my head I was like, you know what, if you drop in and fall, it's okay if you just keep going. You get up and you do it again, and that’s the great thing about roller skating. 

Finally, we’d love to know what’s top of your bucket list for when you can travel again?

Camogli, Italy. We were meant to go as a family in September. I was looking forward to going and looking at the architecture, museums, beaches and eating all the food and trying all the different wines! 

You can find Elly on Instagram at @ellyskates

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