Michelle Rector, Janeth Rector and Christen Garcia invite the community to join RollerBlade Tampa Bay.

For nearly 20 years since she arrived in Tampa, Janeth Rector dreamed of rollerblading down the steep, spiral Tampa Bay Airport parking structure exit ramp. For her, the silver lining of social distancing resulted in her lifelong dream being achieved.

Nearly empty at the peak of the pandemic, she along with a few close friends and family jumped at the opportunity to race down the twisting structure and filmed the entire adventure.

Rector realized she wanted a way for other rollerbladers to connect across Tampa Bay.

“I’ve always loved rollerblading. I tried running, but running is not my thing,” she said. “It really wreaked havoc on my knees. Rollerblading is low-impact, and you can go longer distances.”

The American Heart Association agrees that it is one of the most effective forms of aerobic exercise.

She and her crew live in the FishHawk area, but she wants to encourage people all over Tampa to give rollerblading a try, especially if other forms of cardio cause too much leg and back pain. She started the Facebook group RollerBlade Tampa Bay so everyone at every skill level can plan events and make friends. It’s a great way to socialize while exercising and having accountability.

“Some cities have huge groups with thousands of members, and I saw the need here,” Rector explained.

She added that FishHawk itself has over 28 miles of trails and sidewalks she frequents, but she and others in her group love adventure and would welcome ideas for new parks and neighborhoods.

The group is in its infancy, so please visit www.facebook.com/groups/543608509687663 for more information, to join and to create events. You can even watch the video of Rector and the inaugural members as they speed down Tampa Bay Airport’s ramp. They know there are tons more people who rollerblade regularly and even more who will be hooked once they start. All are welcome.

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