DETROIT - Recreational ice skating continues to be a popular winter activity that can provide an enjoyable cardiovascular workout and an ideal social opportunity. "I like ice skating because you feel free and don't have to worry about anything," said Mikenzie Frost, 11, of Dearborn, Mich. With her friends Sarah Cifaldi and Miranda Micallef she enjoyed a recent afternoon at Campus Martius rink in downtown Detroit. The three met several years ago while taking figure-skating lessons. Dan McAskin, vice president of operations for H&R Block Financial Advisors, skates three times a week at the rink during lunchtime. "I hadn't skated in a long time, and I thought it would be a nice break during the day," he said. "It reminds me of the feeling I had skating as a kid, the sense of freedom and the exhilaration you feel from the ease of movement and speed." With the opening of Campus Martius rink, people young and old are discovering, and in many cases rediscovering, the joy of ice skating. Since the rink opened in the third week of November, more than 25,000 people have showed up to skate, sometimes after waiting in long lines for the 450 available pairs of rental skates, said Harry Datz, Campus Martius operator for Magic Ice USA, which runs the rink. Age isn't a factor. Instructors say it's never too late, or too early, to learn how to skate properly and enjoy the benefits of an activity that dates back centuries to the days when Swedes used animal bones for blades as a means of speedier travel. Marta Markiewicz is an instructor and coordinator of the learn-to-skate program that runs throughout the year at the Troy Sports Center. "I've taught 2½-year-olds to folks in their 60s," says Markiewicz, who has seen more adults joining the ranks of recreational skaters. "For many adults who either skated as a child or never skated before, there's a growing interest in learning to develop the skills necessary to enjoy the activity with their children" she said. "For kids, learning to skate is a confidence builder and a good exercise for a generation of children glued to television and video games." Jaimi Tarnow, a former skater with the Ice Capades and Holiday on Ice shows who now gives lessons at Campus Martius, agrees. "Skating not only promotes better coordination and balance, but your legs become stronger, and you can obtain a nice cardiovascular workout," she said. "It's also great because it's something you can do with your friends and family. When you go to the movies, you can't chat, but at the rink, you can laugh and have fun."
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