From aging hipsters to young people – newcomers to the sport are finding longboards are easier to ride than a traditional skateboard. The longboard has wider wheels and longer platforms and it can go as fast as a bicycle. In Florida, longboarding is exploding across college campuses and on friendly bike lanes. “You get that energy transmitted by having that board roll on land. You feel that rush, that speed, that comfort,” said Strauss.
With all of his clients, Farin starts counseling sessions in his office. If there is an aspect such as loss, anxiety or anger that can parallel with the longboard therapy, Farin will suggest it, if the client is physically able.
All sessions begin with an overview of the safety gear and for beginners, practice starts on the grass. Farin introduces meditation to center the focus on the board and then the on-board lesson begins. Both patient and therapist ride side by side and then they go on a silent ride from one end of the park to the middle.
“We both ride together. We don’t talk. At the midpoint there’s a bench where we talk about what we saw and heard. My intention is to focus the client on feeing the present moment,” said Farin.
After four months, Batista says he’s not mired in grief 24/7 and he can feel joy again. He’s had his last session and will come back as needed but for now is focus in on his next goal — to regain a sense of purpose in life
“ I want to find more meaning to life than just work. I realize that sometimes during the day when I feel sad, it’s OK. Part of it is that is I don’t want to forget my wife but now I’m OK going in that spot,” said Batista. “Longboarding helped me realize that I can be in the moment and then move on.”
Even for younger clients who know how to skate, longboard therapy has been useful. Robert Aguilar is a 14-year-old high school freshman at Hallandale High. When he broke up with his girlfriend, things started to unravel and he was angry all the time.
“I ended up breaking up with my old girlfriend. Then I got a new girlfriend and then she broke up with me. I don’t like to fight but when I do, I lose my temper so I keep it inside. It was just a complete backfire,’’ Aguilar said.
“When I met Robert there was no distinction between anger and Robert,” Farin said. “His mom was very concerned about how he handled his anger, locking himself in his room, being with his head down all the time. Now he’s developing awareness about when he’s angry. He’s can see that he can control that by making small changes.”
Aguilar was all smiles as he whirled quickly by a loop on the concrete tree-lined trail. Giant iguanas stayed motionless in the warm sun as therapist and patient rode silently by.
Even though Aguilar is an advanced skater, he was drenched in sweat as he gained speed around a bend. Afterwards, there were high fives and new goals to consider.
“Isaac sees the changes and that’s what helps me,” said Aguilar. “You just forget about everything on the board. Now I tell myself even if things get me mad, everything is OK and it starts to wear off.’’