Ali Manning, 31, has no shortage of passion. She’s a dedicated scientist who founded Umami Food Consulting as well as Food Science 4 Kids, a virtual learning series for grade school students. She also runs her own all-natural line of self-care product for men, King Status Grooming. Still, this boss lady enjoys a challenge. This year she took on skating.

“I remembered how much I enjoyed ice skating as a child, so I begged my husband for rollerblades on my birthday in October of last year,” she says. The Alabama native has always been active. “Life for me is about exploration and trying new things to figure out what I like; I enjoy HIIT workouts, running, yoga, visiting nature trails, and swimming.”

Her first set of wheels were a pair of inline skates. “I began on the Greenline but wasn’t able to do many tricks and spins. So in April I ordered roller skates and have been obsessed with the trend ever since.” 

While gyms and fitness centers have been closed or operating at limited capacity, staying active has been important to Ali. “During the pandemic, it has not only helped my physical health but my mental health as well.” Cruising on her wheels lets her go outside, soak up the endorphins, and have a great time. “Skating is such a fun workout for me,” she says. “It never gets old, because there’s always something new to learn.”

Ali likes to get up early and go out for a spin. The blades give her a more rigorous workout, while the classic skates mean more of a balance between fun and exercise. “The Greenline is ideal for blades because you can skate for miles,” she says. “Beale Street Landing, on the other hand, is one of the smoother surfaces in town for tricks and provides a fantastic breeze as well as shade.”

Although she started off skating solo, Ali has recently found camaraderie in the local skating scene. Once her videos on Instagram and TikTok began picking up views, fellow Memphis skaters began getting in touch. “There’s a fantastic community here,” Ali says. “Ladies of all ages have reached out about our skater meet-ups.” 

Part of what makes skating fun is the music. “I enjoy house music, Afrobeats, hip hop, and disco,” she says. “There’s peace in finding my groove to a song and just rolling along with the breeze.” However, the most satisfying part of skating is the feeling of finally mastering footwork, a trick, or a spin.

Ali recommends aspiring skaters start off learning from YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram before purchasing a quality pair of skates. She also suggests picking a location that’s safe and smooth for comfortable practicing. “Skating is about coordination, confidence, and fearlessness. A good fall will let you know if you’re truly up for it,” she laughs. 

Follow Ali’s skating journey on Instagram @aliglad_carpediem and TikTok @agladness. 

By Lucy Harrison

Photo by Tindall Stephens 

For kids interested in food, science, or both, check out Saturday Science at the Garden, Ali’s virtual learning series done in partnership with Memphis Botanic Gardens. During September, she conducts experiments and teaches fun virtual lessons with a small in-person class at the end of the month.