What's it all about?
In-line skating is often called Rollerblading - the brand name of the company that first marketed the skates and gear. In-line skates are so called because of the single line of wheels on the skate. In-line skating often takes place on the same surfaces as skateboarding: roads, parks, special tracks and skate parks.
What the expert says ...
Former artistic figure-skating champion Asha Kirkby is manager of Skatefresh, London's oldest skate school, and one of the UK's most highly qualified instructors.
Bend your knees over your ankles: The bent knee position in in-line skating isn't like a squat in the gym. Your knees should be slightly in front of your toes, with your shins pressing down on to the front of the boots. Many beginners claim they are bending their knees while standing close to upright, risking a backwards fall.
Master the scissor: This is the most crucial position, not least because it is the precursor to braking, but also because it is the most stable position in which to cross obstacles. The front wheel of your back skate should be in line with the back wheel of your front skate, with the knees bent and 60% of your weight on the back leg.
Keep scooting: As well as teaching you to 'push', scooting helps you acquire balance skills on one leg. Roll in the ready position (feet hip-distance apart), then 'scoot' with one leg by taking the skate directly to the side, and bringing it all the way back in (push out, lift in). Do six with one leg and then switch.
Push a trolley: If you imagine you are pushing a shopping trolley as you skate, you'll keep your hands in front of your body. The moment you start swinging your arms around is the moment you'll be thrown off balance.
Practise 'lemons': This is a great exercise for getting you used to rolling on the edge of the skates (useful for turning), and for working the inner and outer thigh muscles. From the ready position, roll into a wide 'A-frame' position, then as you move forward draw the feet back together. Get some propulsion going by sinking into the A-frame position and slightly pulling up on the return.
Turn effortlessly: For a foolproof turn, get some momentum going in the A‑frame position, then simply press your big toe down in your boot, without shifting your weight, straightening up or making any other change to your position. You will turn in a graceful arc.
Hire, don't buy: If this is your first venture into the skating world, it's probably best to hire or borrow skates rather than buy. You can usually find skate rental near popular skating sites.
Have lessons: Unless you lived on roller skates and skateboards as a kid, you really need lessons in order to get good enough to gain fitness benefits. Find an instructor at Inline Certification Program International. In London, Skatefresh runs five-week 'street skating' courses, one-to-one and group sessions, 'skate fit' and 'Mummy Buggy' classes. London Skate Patrol offers regular free skate clinics for beginners in Hyde Park.
Find the right place to practise: A flat, smooth, uncrowded surface is the ideal - it may be your living room floor! Empty tennis courts and car parks are great places to practise, or check where other skaters go. Most seaside towns have promenades that are good, as are all cycle paths and many paths in local parks (check for restrictions).
Join the masses: Group skates are a growing phenomenon in the UK - there are now three weekly skates in London. The LondonSkate is the UK's largest mass street skate, starting from Hyde Park on Wednesday evenings throughout the summer, attracting up to 800 people each week. The fast-paced Friday Night Skate and gentler Sunday Stroll, for anyone who can stop, go and turn, are already back from their winter break (lfns.co.uk).
Try on a range of skates in your usual shoe size, with the socks you intend to wear. Key points are comfort, good fit, sufficient ankle support, a good-sized, well-positioned brake and smooth rolling wheels. Snow + Rock does a good range, Decathlon has some budget buys, or try specialist shops, such as Club Blue Room (020-7724 4884) or Slick Willies (020-7225 0004) in London (both offer hire services) or Skate Asylum in Co Durham (01388 777188). Kate's Skates is a good online option.
Until recently, Salomon was the biggest brand, but has recently stopped making skates - existing models should still be around for some time, though, like the ever-popular FSK range (around £150). Other brands to check out are Rollerblade, Roces and K2. If you want to go off-road, buy a pair of LandRollers, skates with two huge, angled wheels ($199, from landroller.com). For protection, wrist guards , elbow and knee pads will set you back around £30. It's compulsory to wear pads and guards in an in-line skating lesson. Helmets aren't compulsory, but they are sensible. Bike helmets are the preferred choice for serious skaters. Otherwise, California Pro (020-8572 1201) does funky action sports helmets in a range of colours for £20.
Falling over: All that padding may protect your joints but it won't save your dignity. You're far more conspicuous, as opposed to snow boarding and skiing where everyone's in the same boat.
Wrist fractures: This is the most common injury; however, the overall injury rate for skating is 3.4 per 1,000, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission in the US - less than soccer, but higher than tennis.
Inconvenience: You usually can't wear skates into shops, pubs or even public toilets. But Salomon's Smartskate has a detachable wheel chassis, turning it from skate to shoe in seconds.
Difficult conditions: Skate wheels are sensitive to all sorts of elements. Combining the perfect surface with the right weather can be a challenge.