August 24, 2023/ / ARTICLES/ Comments: 14

Skateboarding is hard and it doesn’t get any easier with age. The slams hurt more, your skate crew shrinks due to other priorities, and there’s an overall existential crisis that can arise from being the old person at the park surrounded by scooter kids and their moms.

We found some inspiration for those starting skating deep into adulthood in the form of an Instagram account called @brittle_bones_brigade_. The account, run by Josh Sigler, shares a glimpse into the life and times of a group of adult beginner skaters based in Birmingham, Alabama in their 30s and 40s.

Seeing the falls, attempts and makes of these new (but old) skaters serves as a friendly reminder that skating isn’t always about doing the hardest tricks or even looking cool.

We spoke with Josh and a few members of the crew to discuss how they got into skating, their best and worst moments on the board, and what keeps them motivated to get better.

31, Birmingham, AL

How did The Brittle Bones Brigade come to be?
Last year, Birmingham got its first-ever skatepark and there was a lot of excitement leading up to its opening. During that time, Faith Skate, our local skate shop, did an anonymous Ask Me Anything thread on Instagram. One person asked them something like “I’m in my 40s and want to start skating. Is it too late?” So I messaged the shop and said “Send that person my way.”

The thread was anonymous so even Faith Skate didn’t know who the person was so they put my Instagram handle out there and said, “If you’re a beginner, hit Josh up!” To my surprise, several folks reached out and before I knew it we had a group of four or five folks skating together in parking lots.

Once the park opened, we decided to make it a regular weekly meet-up and started calling ourselves the Brittle Bones Brigade. We had one or two posts go viral, and after that, it just continued to grow from there.

How was it going to the skatepark for the first time as an adult beginner?
I never would have gone to the park on my own in a million years. I would drive past the park sometimes and try to work up the courage but then see people out there ripping. I think the big fear most beginners feel is that you’re just going to get in everyone’s way.

Luckily, when I lived in Memphis, I had a coworker who saw me riding my board to work and invited me to go with him to the park. I was still a little intimidated but he suggested we go early before anyone else got there. He never tried to give me formal lessons or push me to do things his way. He just answered my questions, encouraged me when I doubted myself, and was as hyped for my wins as I was. I feel like nine out of 10 times that’s all people really want and need in order to feel like they belong at the skatepark.

“I know I’m not very good and I never will be but I still love it and it still means something to me.”

Do you ever struggle with feeling like a poser at the park?
In five years I’ve never had a single person at the park say a negative word to me about my ability. It’s online you have to worry about it. Thankfully 99% of the time people are really kind and supportive online to the true beginners skating with us.

When people call me a poser, usually all they mean is that they’re better than me, which is not a high bar. I know I’m not very good and I never will be but I still love it and it still means something to me. I think poser is just one of those words that only has as much power as you give it. If you’re out there pretending like you’re better than you are or telling people you can do things that you really can’t then maybe you are a poser and you need to rethink some choices.

Have any pros or notable skate industry people reached out to you about your project?
We were at the regular Wednesday night meet-up when we saw that Tony Hawk had liked one of our posts. I’d like to say that we played it cool but in reality, we freaked out like little kids on Christmas. I mean, that’s the guy, you know?

Daewon [Song] has actually liked and commented on several of our videos and seems to be sort of actively following us which is unbelievable to me as one of my favorite skaters ever. The guys from Braille have been super supportive to us from the beginning. We also have been able to work out a partnership with OC Ramps which has been really cool since my backyard ramp is one of their kits and it shows up in a lot of videos.

How has the crew been received by the skate community in Birmingham?
One of my biggest goals for Brittle Bones is that we wouldn’t stay sequestered in our one little corner of the park doing our own thing and would connect with the rest of the scene however possible. We’ve tried to make an intentional effort to contribute to builds and use the platform we have now to promote local events and I think people have appreciated that.

What advice would you give to people that are looking to start their own “chapter” at their local park?
We’ve all got jobs and kids and responsibilities. It would be insane to expect every single person to be there every single week. If you can learn to not stress out about how many people show up to the session on a given week you’ll enjoy it a lot more. Some weeks you might have three people there, the next you might have fifteen. I love not knowing who might show up on Wednesday night!

Also, lean on your local skate shop if you can. We wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Faith Skate.

31, Birmingham, AL

Can you remember your very first introduction to skateboarding?
I remember around the age of seven or eight, I was skateboarding with kids from my neighborhood yet never really getting the hang of it. This was around the time the Razor scooter blew up, and I hopped on that train real fast, leaving my skateboarding days behind. Once Tony Hawk Pro skater came out though, I was all in virtually – just not physically.

How did you get back into skating?
Josh and I have been friends for over 10 years and last year I wanted to simply spend more time with my friend, so I decided to start skating with him. Once we started meeting up more consistently, we had more friends that wanted to join, which in turn became this! It’s become a highlight of the year for me, and I truly didn’t believe that wanting to hang out with my bud would turn into this.

What’s been the most gratifying part of learning to skateboard?
The most gratifying part has been getting out of my comfort zone while skating. As an adult, routine can become all you do and I never want to not try new things. Between work, life, and everything in between, it can be hard to find activities that make you happy.

How was it going to the skatepark for the first time as an adult beginner?
1,000% felt like a poser. It transported me back to middle school, as a dorky teenager. Once I realized that everyone didn’t care and just wanted to skate, I got over myself.

What advice do you have for people looking to start or continue skating in their 30s and beyond?
Don’t be afraid to have fun. Be willing to be bad at something. As an adult, it’s easier to shy away from activities you aren’t incredible at. Remember as a kid, you were bad at everything you tried yet still persevered?

This is what it’s about: try something new, be bad at it for a bit, and enjoy the journey of slowly getting progress.

43, Birmingham, AL

How was it going to the skatepark for the first time as an adult beginner?
It was intimidating actually being there in person. Everything looked way smaller online.

Best and worst moments while skating?
The best moments so far were skating with my family when my kids were younger and wanted to try it, and then meeting up with Josh and Frank a few years later when I wanted to try it again on my own.

My worst moment was breaking my tailbone trying to skate a curb when I was a kid.

What advice do you have for people looking to start or continue skating in their 30s and beyond?
Go for it. If you’re worried about injuries, get a helmet and some pads, and don’t push yourself too hard. Focus on progress over time.

What’s your favorite recovery tool?
A hot shower, ibuprofen, and bourbon & coke.

What advice would you give to people that are looking to start their own “chapter” at their local park?
Josh being nice enough to put the invitation out to anyone willing to meet up is what got me interested. I guess my advice is just to be willing to take the chance, be friendly, and don’t worry about what people will think about you or your skill level.

35, Nashville, TN

Can you remember your very first introduction to skateboarding?
My very first introduction to skateboarding was seeing it as a kid in the 90s, mostly on TV due to being raised in rural Alabama. I thought it was cool, but didn’t see it as an option for myself.

Then, a little over two years ago, I quietly bought my first board – a complete from Zumiez. I went to the skatepark at like 7 AM almost every day, and just pushed around and tried things. My love for all things skate has grown more than I thought possible.

Best and worst moments while skating?
The worst moment was slipping out and fracturing my skull. It was mostly just really scary, but for sure the worst.

The best moment was most definitely attending Skate Like A Girl’s WT skate camp for adults last year. I made more friends in a week than like 10 years preceding, I progressed like crazy and got to kick it and skate with some of my favorite pros.

How was it going to the skatepark for the first time as an adult beginner?
Scary. It was a new atmosphere with one learning tool: falling. I was intimidated and suffering from major imposter syndrome, but the excitement of being there with my board pushed me to go for it. It kind of feels like the first day at a new school — scary but full of possibility.

Do you watch skate videos? How invested are you in the history of skating?
I vibe with Elissa Steamer’s style and I love watching anything she’s in. Gassed Up has been on repeat. Credits by Vans, Ruining Skateboarding… the list goes on.

I also got to see a premiere of a new film called Skate Dream which highlights the rise of women’s pro skateboarding. I’m very interested in the history of skateboarding, but I have an equal interest in its future.

What advice do you have for people looking to start or continue skating in their 30s and beyond?
First, don’t let anybody talk you out of it. There are a million reasons not to do something, but all you need is one reason to go for it. Skating inspires me to take better care of my body and that’s key to being able to do it as long as you want.

Find friends to skate with, at least somewhat close in age. If you think there is nobody, look harder. Remember to have fun and not take yourself too seriously – undue pressure will just burn you out.

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  1. Dan C Ingqueen

    December 13, 2023 8:17 pm

    Thanks for this article. I’m a 57 yo beginner. My kid and his friends started skating and I couldn’t just stand there and watch. It’s only been a month or so but I’m already doing more than I thought I ever could and get out every day.

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