Health & Medicine

In-line skater finds good low-impact aerobic exercise on wheels

Forced to quit running 14 years ago, Bob Feenick, 53, of Lexington took up in-line skating. He's a regular — and often only — skater on the Legacy Trail.
Forced to quit running 14 years ago, Bob Feenick, 53, of Lexington took up in-line skating. He's a regular — and often only — skater on the Legacy Trail. Herald-Leader

Bob Feenick was never a hard-core jogger, but he didn't want to give up on exercise when rheumatoid arthritis forced him to quit running 14 years ago.

So he put on in-line skates.

"I went and bought myself a pair of skates at Wal-Mart," said Feenick, 53. He had skated and skied as a kid, so maintaining his balance was a skill that "came back fairly quickly," he said. And soon another passion was born that eclipsed his interest in jogging.

Feenick, who has been in equine lending for more than 30 years, frequently travels for work. Once he started skating, he took his skates "everywhere."

"I was able to skate along the West Coast, along the East Coast; I've done Central Park a couple of times," he said.

In recent years his focus has shifted from purely recreational skating to skating marathons of 26.5 miles.

While you think of in-line skating as a fad whose time has passed, Feenick said there are "pockets in this country that do it very religiously." And, in some parts of the country, marathon skating is big. The most recent race Feenick participated in had some 3,000 skaters.

"It was very cool," he said.

He's meet sponsored skaters who are as fit as Olympic sprinters on skates, he said. Top skaters can finish a marathon in an hour and five minutes, he said. He's even started following some of his favorite skaters on InlinePlanet.com.

A longtime member of the YMCA, Feenick often finds himself the lone skater on Lexington's Legacy Trail. When it opened, he said, "that was the real deal to be honest with you" because skaters "are always looking for smooth pavement."

He'd like to see other skaters join him.

"The health benefits are just great because it is a low-impact deal," he said.

And unlike cycling, which Feenick calls "fairly boring," skating offers some self-expression but he jokes he does the hustle only if "I have got my IPod in with my disco music on."

People can start in-line skating for less than $75, he said. Technology has come a long way from the roller skates that needed a metal key. Now, there are skates for distance and for speed.

Feenick is optimistic that skating will catch on again and that he'll soon have company on the Legacy Trail. "Look how far biking has come in the last four or five years," he said.

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