Choice of rollerskiing:
There are two types of rollerskiing, based on the two types of cross-country skiing - classic and skating.
Classic is the original type of skiing where the skis run parallel. On snow the skis use a special type of 'grip wax' in the centre of the ski which comes into contact with the snow when the ski is pressed down. Classic rollerskis have wheels with 'ratchets' which stop them running backwards when the skier pushes off, giving much the same feeling as skiing on snow. The classic technique is sometimes known as the 'diagonal stride'.
Skating is a form of skiing which came to prominance in the 1980s. In this type of skiing the skis skate out from side to side, in a similar way to ice skating or inline skating. This form of skiing is faster, and is used in all biathlon races (skiing and shooting). The skis have no grip wax, and the rollerskis have no ratchets.
Which to choose?
Most people end up doing a bit of both - certainly all racers do. Skating requires a bit more balance than classic to start off with, and if you have trouble balancing you may want to start with classic first.
However, skating is easy to pick up especially if you have good core stability or have done a little ice skating, alpine skiing or inline skating - anything which works your balance well. There is a widely held view that classic is easier to pick up but harder to master, while skating is harder to pick up but slightly easier to master.
Certain countries seem to favour classic or skating - in Norway it's unusual for someone to attempt skating before they have first done a lot of classic-ing, while in the Alps skating seems to be relatively more popular. In our view it doesn't really matter which technique you start off with, but we would encourage you to do a mixture of both.
What's the better workout?
Both offer an extremely good, total body workout, and all skiers and biathletes do a mixture of both in training. It's easier to keep a lower heartrate with classic, so that is often chosen as the best means of doing a long slow distance workout. In fact the two styles complement each other well, and work slightly different muscles. You can, to a certain extent, give your body a rest by alternating workouts between classic and skating.
Benefits of rollerskiing
For a start you rollerskiing gives you pretty much the same workout as cross country skiing - one of the best all round sports for exercise. See here for other perspective.
All rollerskis are designed to feel as close to skiing on snow as possible. The rollerskis we use are the best we can find for offering a good 'ski feeling'.
* excellent cardiovascular workout