Our lives are full of movement and in taking charge of it, one can become skilled at their craft. Action sports are a prime example of an activity that requires dedication and attention to detail. Possessing multiple benefits expanding beyond the physical, sports such as these help to nurture an all-encompassing character and athlete. Whether it's biking, skating, or riding, each individual sport offers its own means of creative expression, so grab your bike, skateboard, or scooter and swerve on over to Breaking Free Skatepark (BFS).
Breaking Free Skatepark is a 20,000 square foot warehouse dedicated to all things wheels and fun. Cultivating uplifting energy amidst an energetic atmosphere, the support and encouragement that circulates through this space is contagious. Whether you have been involved in the action sports scene your whole life, or have never stepped foot on a board, owner Dave Raffa wants to make sure that you have the best experience possible. Sculpting and building the space into what it is now, BFS entered the Rochester scene in 2016. Dedicated to promoting progression and emphasizing the importance of the process, Dave speaks to the power of the journey, not just the polished product. “When we say progression, we are not just talking about on your chosen wheeled friend. Our goal is to provide the most inclusive environment for anyone.”
Growing up in New Jersey as a BMX kid, Raffa shares that, “bikes are life for me.” Meeting a handful of people through the sport and forging a crew, they went on to shoot videos and produce their own content. This world continued to grow for Dave as he worked on bikes at a substantial shop. As he got older, he also began to realize the extensive list of health benefits that can be fostered through such a lifestyle. “BFS is here because the physical and mental benefits of progression oriented actions sports are life-changing, sometimes even life-saving. The life lessons taught in these activities are so much larger than the activities themselves.”
BFS is more than just ramps, as it is also equipped with a full-service shop. Regardless of your type or style of bike, when it comes to repairs, their years of experience will get you back out and riding in no time. With a love for working on bikes, this is one of Dave’s passion projects, thus carrying them out at very affordable prices. Tune-ups are not the only things they provide though, as they also extend their services to offering high-quality photos and video content. Having gone to school for photography with a concentration on shooting live-action sports, Raffa has professional experience with this terrain. Add to that their various private lessons, camps, Ladies Night (third Monday of every month) and party or group events, and there is something here for everyone.
Wanting to reach out and engage as many people as possible, BFS has broadened its media-based presence by creating its own podcast. Serving as another way to interact with the kids, the “Breaking Free Speech” podcast helps to provide informative material in a more approachable and entertaining manner. They also produce vlogs as well, covering a wide range of content and showcasing the Rochester talent.
Shifting the perspective of how action sports are now approached and accepted in comparison to ten years ago, the sport is more inclusive and receptive. More people are trying the sport and are getting to do so without the judgemental pressure of fellow riders. This new wave has helped to propel the action sports scene, even on a global level. With skateboarding and BMX hitting the Olympic stage in the Summer of 2020, Raffa is intrigued by the ripple effect that it will have. In trying to predict the aftermath, he states, “we have no idea what that's going to do. It’s feasible that in ten years high schools are adopting skate programs.”
At the moment, Rochester is eagerly anticipating the arrival of a new outdoor skatepark. Centrally located under the Frederick Douglass- Susan B. Anthony Memorial Bridge, this three-phase project is going to provide exposure for the sport and Dave notes that it will also hopefully increase ridership. The strategic layout of the architecture, coupled with its artistic design and focus on safety will create a lively park for riders. Being a member of the board that is overseeing the project, Raffa states that, “the art aspect of the skatepark is made to mimic the canal locks...deep blue and goldenrod and the Rochester flower is in the metal of the railings...” adding a personalized and tasteful ROC City touch.
So regardless of how you chose to move, swing on by BFS to bust a move.