This month we’re exploring South Beach, made possible by Lyft. Check out our neighborhood guide for more!
Nowadays it’s hard to imagine South Beach without rollerblading. The images of girls in bikini tops and men in cut-off shorts gliding on the boardwalk have been featured in countless movies and postcards.
But 10 years ago, when Amit Klein moved to Miami, they were a much less regular sight.
“Miami Beach is really skate friendly, we have the boardwalks, the wide streets, the crosswalks,” says Klein. “But, people don’t stay here long enough to commit to the community. People come and go, it’s transient.”
If you bump into Klein in the neighborhood, there’s a good chance he’ll be gliding backward on skates. The Israeli-born restaurant owner and skating instructor is kind of the godfather of South Beach rollerblading culture and he skates a full marathon every day in about 70 minutes. He’s made it his mission to make sure Miami Beach takes advantage of our city’s innate skate park.
Klein has grown the skating community with two monthly meetups on Friday evenings and Sunday mornings, garnering more than 40 members. His goal is to get them hooked and make sure that after a day his students feel confident enough to never stop.
He’s been skating since he was a young boy in Israel. Since then, he’s traded in his four-wheel skates for extreme in-line skates, but the fun and freedom he feels when skating remains the same.
“If you get the bug when you’re young, you won’t ever stop skating,” he says.
How he gets you hooked
One of his youngest students started at five years old. When she turned nine, Klein took her down Ocean Drive. A double decker tour bus was in front of them, driving at a snail’s pace.
Klein grabbed onto the back of the bus and told her, “This is how you get a free tour of the beach.”
“I filmed the whole thing too,” he says. “So I send her the video on her birthday and her mom calls me yelling saying I was crazy, but her daughter was so excited. Less than a week later, I got seven calls from mothers asking me to teach their kids.”
Klein also manages the beer garden at Bikini Hostel on South Beach. He tells his bartenders they can drink for free, but for every dollar the beer costs they owe him an hour of skating. He has 20 pairs of skates at home that he lends out.
“I skate everyday, so why not make the group bigger, why not teach more people?” says Klein.
Skating is easy, he says. All you need are a pair of good skates and protective gear. The rest depends on your instructor.
“I’ve never met a person who I couldn’t teach how to skate,” he says.
South Beach Skate meets every first Friday at 6:30pm and Sunday at 10am on Washington Avenue and Lincoln Road.