For the 21st daily installment of Big Wheel Blading’s Inline Skating and Life During COVID-19 series we talk to Karim Naji. Karim is a 41-year-old inline skater and hospitality worker living in Lille, France. Last year he skated 6,316.66 miles (10,165.67 km) to take 5th place on Big Wheel Blading’s 2019 Inline Skating Distance Challenge.

What are the current COVID-19 restrictions in France?

France is under a home confinement lockdown order. You are only allowed to go outside to exercise for 1 hour a day and you must stay within 1km of your home.

Are you still skating? If so what precautions are you taking to stay safe.

I am still skating for the allowed time limit and stay close to my home. I wash my hands before and after every session. When I am out of the house I avoid everyone and I do not touch anything.

If you are still skating what and where are you skating?

Now that I can no longer distance skate, I’ve be skating the private parking lot of my residence and trying to learn the basics of aggressive skating. I’ve been playing around on small stairs and am hoping to be able to land my first ever grind ever. I use it as a fun type of cross training, mixing it with slalom moves. I can feel abs hurting after 45min of workout. Otherwise I skate the road around my building but it is only 1 km long and repetitive, so I don’t do it often.

What would make you stop skating?

Besides getting injured, nothing would make me stop skating. Even if we were no longer allowed to go outside to exercise, I would find a way to skate in my tiny apartment.

What other activities are you doing to occupy your time?

To occupy my time, I have been reading, playing video games and cleaning my house.

How has COVID-19 affected your normal everyday life?

I am stuck at home and haven’t seen any of my friends or been to work in weeks. My work won’t be reopening until at least May 1st.

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

I’m most concerned about humanity’s health. How many people are going to lose their lives? Will we be able to defeat COVID-19? Everything happening right now reminds me of my grandparents WWII stories… I fear our society might never be the same after this pandemic.

How is the skate community in Lille responding?

That is a tough one! Being isolated at home I can only rely on social media posts to see what my fellow bladers are up to. Before the confinement order some people were still skating long distances but now it seems that everyone is obeying the order to stay home.


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