LONG ISLAND CITY — Dan Bowen sees SpikeBoarding as the sport of New York City's future, and a more sustainable way for residents to get around.
The Long Island City fitness trainer has spent the last 13 months learning the relatively new sport, in which users ride a modified skateboard and propel themselves forward using a long stick — a cross between skateboarding and cross-country skiing.
Bowen — who noted that he's been certified as a SpikeBoarding coach by SUSOIX, a company owned by the sport's founder Enrique Cubillo — is on a mission to introduce more residents, especially young people, to the sport he sees as a path to lifelong fitness and a mode of transportation that's better for the planet.
"It's one of the most tangible things that people can do on a daily basis to combat climate change," said Bowen, adding that he SpikeBoards now to get around a majority of the time, riding in the city's many bike lanes.
"I used to take the subway, I used to ride the bus, I used to take Ubers and taxis," he said. "My carbon footprint has gone down to next to nothing."
A lifelong athlete who grew up playing hockey, Bowen said he'd barely stepped foot on a skateboard until just more than a year ago when he first learned about SpikeBoarding, which was invented by Cubillo around 2010.
Bowen now prefers SpikeBoarding to riding a bicycle because he says it's "10 times the fun" and is better for building strength, balance and endurance.
"It incorporates the entire body, which I love," he said. "This activates the core, your upper body, your lower body just tremendously."
He's looking to start teaching the sport to young people at local schools and community centers, and also offers private lessons at Queensbridge Park. Rates vary depending on what a client is looking for, he said.
Learning the sport is a step-by-step process, and beginners will first learn basic techniques on a stationary board — what's called "SpikeBasing" — before getting on wheels.
"I'd say this is 25 percent as challenging as ice hockey, as learning the sport of ice hockey," he said.
Among his newest clients is Janet Redondo, a Queens resident and a co-worker of Bowen's at NYC Outward Bound Schools, who took a two-hour beginner class with him recently.
"He was always with his board, always on it — I was curious," she said. "I found it so unusual, so unique."
Though her first lesson only covered the basics, Redondo says she plans to stick with the sport, which she considers "a great way to get into shape."
SpikeBoarding is not yet widely known, and Bowen said he doesn't see a lot of other riders on his treks through the streets of New York.
"Right now, it's a sport that's incubating," said Cubillo, SpikeBoarding's inventor, noting that Bowen is currently the first and only certified coach in the sport.
But Bowen predicts that SpikeBoarding will begin "exploding" in popularity in the coming years — something he wants to help make happen.
"It's 10 times the fun of anything else I've ever done, and it gets me from point A to point B," he said. "Other sports don’t work that way. I can't baseball my way to work."
Anyone interested in signing up for a lesson can do so at Bowen's website.