For the 99th daily installment of Big Wheel Blading’s Inline Skating and Life During COVID-19 series we talk to Gabe Holm. Gabe is a 35-year-old inline skater living in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. He is the owner and shred specialist of Thuro Skate & Snow in Brookline, Massachusetts.

What steps did Massachusetts take to battle COVID-19 and how are things there now?

The governor of Massachusetts closed down all non-essential businesses, mandated the use of masks and encouraged social distancing. Essential businesses like grocery stores, pharmacies and restaurants with takeout food were allowed to remain open. At Thuro Shop we were able to continue our online business, but were only allowed to have essential workers in the shop to do curbside/non-contact pickup. The store is currently open by appointment only and we still have a massive amount of online orders coming in. Businesses and restaurants are starting to reopen and the streets are busy again, but masks are still mandated outside and social distancing is still highly recommended.

Were you skating during the lockdown?

During the lockdown I continued giving private lessons teaching fitness skating, urban and some aggressive to my students. However, with the insane amount of skate orders by folks wanting to get out to skate, I’ve not had time to skate much for myself. I wish I could have gone out more to take advantage of those empty streets!

Photo by Juliane Santos

Is there anything that would make you stop skating?

Serious injury or losing my legs might be the only way I’d stop, but even then I’d try to find a way. to continue I’m always thinking about skating, even if I can’t get out. Even with my busy work schedule setting up other skaters, I still try to make the time when I can. When I’m not dreaming about skate tricks and ogling spots from the car, I’ll get off work and hit up a street spot on my way home. Even if it’s only for 15 minutes, I try to make the time when I can. 

Are you doing any cross training?

I should be, but I’m not. I’m really trying to get a stretching or cross training routine going, but it’s hard with my work schedule. I’ve missed out on some great events and sessions this year due to COVID-19 and likely would have been doing more cross training had I been able to prepare for those.

Photo by John Adams

What other activities are you doing to occupy your time? 

This time has been unique for my business given the increased interest in the sport, so I’ve been really focused on the shop and reinvesting to match the demand and get everyone we can on skates. I have been fortunate enough to keep working, so I don’t have too much extra time on my hands. I wish I had more time to skate, but also am feeling really fortunate to be in the industry during this time.  

How has COVID-19 affected your normal everyday life? 

From a business perspective, my work life has been affected. Keeping up with such a huge demand for skates is my new normal! My pre-COVID everyday life was already very heavily invested in my shop and now with the increased demand and less staff able to work, I’m insanely busy. Trying to navigate the “new normal” with how we interact with the public and keeping my staff and customers safe can be challenging with differing opinions on what is appropriate. Working with other businesses who are affected by the virus has also made day-to-day work more challenging in many ways: vendors running out of goods, shipping carrier times being increased since everyone is buying online right now and trying to communicate all this to customers. While I can get skates out, I’m at the mercy of all these other factors also affected by COVID.

Photo by Jon Huey

What are your major concerns right now and looking into the future?

My concerns right now are getting caught up with work and hoping to get more staff on board as things reopen here in Massachusetts. I do see and interact with a lot of people and the general public with my business and my concerns when this all went down were mainly around how we treat one another. I feel there was a lot of fear, suspicion, judgement and confusion. It put people on edge. I hope to see more kindness and patience and understanding. I’d like to see this situation unite us, make us smarter and help us grow as a community. 

How has the Boston skate community been responding?

During the ‘shut down’ or quarantine, one of the larger skate groups here in Boston (Inline Club of Boston) stopped official group skates until the phase where it was allowed again. That is happening now and group (masked) skates have started back up again. A lot of people I know are still skating while distancing or wearing masks. Some isolated and some continued to do it safely either in small groups or with a friend or two, or solo.

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Do you have anything you’d like to add?

Thanks Jan for asking me to do this! I greatly appreciate everything you are doing with Big Wheel Blading and hope to see you skating once this craziness is over. Happy to share my experience during this time and hope everyone is staying safe and well and can’t wait to see more skaters out there this year.  

Header portrait by John O’Donnell


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