Joannah Castro doesn’t do anything half-assed. When she’s passionate about something, she dives in head first. “I got a half-sleeve the day I turned 18,” Castro says. “I was like, ‘I’m just going to go for it.’ Everyone thought I was going to get something small, like a little shoulder tattoo or whatever. But I obviously got that bug and I couldn’t stop going to the tattoo shop to add more and more. By the time I was 19, I had both arms done, a chest piece, and I haven’t stopped since.”

Castro didn’t just fall head over heels for tattooing. When lockdown hit Las Vegas last year, Castro couldn’t go into work as a bartender and needed a way to pass the time. Then one day, inspiration struck. “I was actually walking my dogs and I saw one of my neighbors skating up and down the street,” Castro says. “That looked way more fun than just sitting home and binge-watching Netflix, so I ordered my first pair of skates. Initially, I thought that since I used to skate as a kid it would be easy as an adult... but I was totally wrong.”

Castro began learning to skate by trial and error, first practicing how to keep balance on her wheels. Slowly but surely, she began picking up tricks and as she did, she began documenting her progress on social media. “I feel like the way you control your body is different from how everyone else controls their body,” Castro says. “I was trying to figure out which way to lift my foot, turn the wheels or where to shift my weight. Eventually everything clicked one by one and here I am now, trying harder things on ramps at the skatepark. I didn’t imagine myself doing any of this when I first bought my skates.”

photos by alan penney

photos by alan penney

When Castro got her first pair of wheels, she intended on sticking to dance skating. But as she became more familiar with the different types of skating, she soon discovered that there’s plenty more to learn. “I had a friend introduce me to ramps and skateparks,” Castro says. “I was like, ‘This is way more satisfying than just learning how to spin.’ Once you practice a trick, you realize there’s way more technique to it than something as simple as pivoting your foot one way and shifting your weight another way. You have to jump and go at a certain speed to get the technique down. Learning became more addicting at the skatepark rather than just going in circles.”

Skating may be new to Castro, but this isn’t her first sport. Just a few years ago she became immersed in bodybuilding. At the time she was very underweight, and while she hated going to the gym at first, she grew to enjoy the changes she saw in her body. She began entering bodybuilding competitions, taking home three trophies from four shows. Yet, despite her success, the sport just wasn’t the right fit.

photos by alan penney

photos by alan penney

“Landing tricks and learning new styles [in skating] is something I can continually do to improve,” she says. “With bodybuilding, there’s only so much you can do differently on stage to better yourself. It’s more enjoyable and more rewarding learning something new at a skatepark versus being on stage and sucking in my stomach more than last time.”

Skating has proven to be rewarding not only in the tricks Castro has picked up, but through the bonds she’s formed along the way. Her skating journey began as a solo activity—practicing in her apartment or around the block— but she soon became a part of a larger skating community. “There was a girl I used to bartend with and when I posted on Instagram that I’d gotten skates, she messaged me about a skate roll-out,” Castro says. “I was still learning and was very intimidated, but she encouraged me to come out. I went into it thinking that it was going to be a couple of girls but it turned out being a group of 30 skaters—some who came out from L.A. and Arizona. I started talking to everyone, asking for advice and getting their stories about how they started skating. That’s how I met most of the skaters I know now.”

Castro has picked up plenty of tricks, found a girl group and earned the respect of the greater skating community on social media, but her journey has only just begun. She’s got one year under her belt and at this rate, she’ll be nailing back flips on her skates in no time. She’s in it for the long haul—that’s just how she rolls.

photos by alan penney

photos by alan penney