For the 63rd daily installment of Big Wheel Blading’s Inline Skating and Life During COVID-19 series we talk to Sebastian Gruba. Sebastian, also known as Basztin Takemura, is a 39-year-old inline skater living in Katowice, Poland. Sebastian is the manager of Hedonskate online skate shop.

Fishbrain – photo by Chris Luca

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

Poland took similar steps to other EU countries, we went into an early lockdown and were encouraged to social distance. Week after week the limitations gradually were reduced with businesses starting to reopen. Right now things are slowly getting back to normal with the most crucial thing, outdoor skateparks, reopening.

Were you skating during the lockdown?

When the lockdown was more strict I skated the local skatepark down the block, every few days, to mess around and stay sane. It ended up being a good opportunity for me to practice filming clips on my phone. Usually I film with a video camera and have never treated a phone like a real camera. However, after filming with my phone the past couple of months I definitely see the potential. Of course it’s much harder than using a video camera, but it can still be done.

Mute Transfer – photo by Krystian Zarzeczny

Where are you skating now?

Since the ban on going to outdoor skateparks has been lifted, we are skating all of the parks on a regular basis. We are also slowly planning street sessions at spots that are usually instant busts but have become skateable due to the pandemic. The crew is hungry and I’m looking forward to seeing good things go down over the next few weeks.

Is there anything that would make you stop skating?

If I received a ticket while skating, which was happening here to a few people in some places during the lockdown, I would stop. I would also stop if it became too dangerous to go outside, but I think I would figure out a way to skate indoors.

Zero Spin Fishbrain – photo by Kuba Urbańczyk

Are you doing any cross training?

I was before the lockdown, 1-2 times a week I would go to the gym, early in the morning, before heading to work. Gyms will reopen in mid June, which I’m looking forward to, because not having a regular exercise routine is killing my old back.

What other activities are you doing to occupy your time?

If I was not working and had time to spare, I would mostly spend it playing retro video games (Xenogears on PSOne, Snatcher on Sega CD and of course my favorite Mortal Kombat games) or watching some old blade DVDs that I have been collecting over the years. I highly recommend watching the Them Apples trilogy by Pat Lennen & Sean Cullen to see some really good and raw street skating. This series was very underrated!

How has COVID-19 affected your normal everyday life?

Working from home can be much harder than it sounds, especially when your work is based on fast and accurate communication between many people. The situation definitely affected my everyday life, yet switching back to “normal” has been much easier than I expected. However, I’m guessing this not the real end of the COVID-19 threat, so only time will tell what’s coming next.

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

I have had a hard time accepting the fact that I can’t travel or leave the country right now. Blading related trips during the summer and fall are what I look forward to every year and the potential of not being able to make these trips makes me sad. I’m sure this is just the beginning of huge changes that will happen worldwide… But anyway, blading was, is and will be the antidote to all the craziness going on around us.

How is your local skate community responding?

In the beginning of the pandemic most people around me were pretty responsible, were self-isolating and being cautious, but as each day passes people are being less careful. The media here is saying so many different and contrasting things about COVID-19 that people are getting very confused. All we talk about now is where or when we are hitting the streets to skate again. People’s energy have been stored away for weeks and now our local scene needs an outlet to release it.

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Do you have anything you’d like to add?

Be responsible and keep rolling! It seems that blading is gaining in popularity again. I’m happy to finally see growth in our sport and will keep working to make it even stronger! Also huge thank you for this opportunity and the solid work on BIGWHEELBLADING!

Portrait photo by Chris Luca


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