So, what does it mean to be 'adult friendly?' I operate on a general definition that it means there's a number of adult skaters in private lessons, and a strong adult learn to skate program. Others may have other concepts. But to me an adult friendly rink has a community of adult figure skaters; not just two or three.
Since I've been in and out of rinks for 5 years, I've picked up on little things. Some rinks have a culture where adults are welcome; others don't. I really don't know why some coaches don't like adult skaters--we're a revenue stream after all. If the coaches don't like adult skaters, well, it's just the way it is. But the adult skaters can still like the rink. Maybe it's the ice, or the cost, or the location. It's an adult friendly rink, if the adults decide it is.
But the trick is how to discover if the rink is adult friendly at first sight.
Sometimes a rink makes it obvious; the rink has an adult public or an adult freestyle on the schedule. That's an easy rink to call home. Almost certainly there will be coaches with experience teaching adults.
A second sign is Sunday public. I've noticed in rinks that are adult friendly, Sunday public skates tend to have a lot of adults in figure skates. I think this is because adults have a lot of stuff to do on Saturdays (trips to the bank, dry cleaning, grocery shopping, stuff that can only be done on a Saturday). That leaves Sunday for the adult to do the fun stuff like skating. Go to a public skate on a Sunday and see a bunch of adults in lessons with coaches, that's a good sign. At my present rink, for example, there's 6 male figure skater regulars on Sundays, and me. *
There are rinks that have a strong adult participation, but it's hidden. If you are a beginner skater you'll probably be unaware of this adults in Freestyle until you get to Freestyle level. I was lucky enough at one rink to be invited to 'secret freestyle' for adults only, even as a beginner. Ah, the good old days. I really miss that rink. But if a rink has adult Freestyle, you'll probably see adults skating at publics, since we have jobs, weekend publics are a good place for practice. If the rink has a lot of people in adult learn to skate, and they're consistent session after session, that's a good sign too.
The rink that isn't adult friendly can be easy to spot. I found one rink who had maybe two adults in figure skates on Sunday publics. One of them was an Adult Gold Pairs Skater, the other was me. There were plenty of dads in hockey skates teaching their kids, but adult figure skaters were few and far between. That doesn't mean there wasn't an adult population of skaters, it's just unlikely. I never saw them.
Adults that compete may have complaints about not being included in competitions. Or treated to a single class of adult skaters, as if all adults of all levels fit in there. Adults probably won't be included in the Christmas show. All signs of a rink that doesn't try to make its adult skaters welcome.
Can you take lessons and find a coach at a rink that's not adult friendly? Sure. You can develop your skills, find a good coach, all that. But if the rink doesn't have a community of adult skaters it won't be as much fun.
We're having fun. Come join us!
* Remind me to do a post on the invisible male figure skater.