Slacklining: If you’ve spent time in the company of climbing bums and serious surfers, you’ve probably seen it in action.
It’s the practice of walking along a piece of webbing pulled taut between two poles or trees, and it’s wildly popular. Slacklining is the child of tightrope walking, something that’s been around since ancient Greece, but the current version didn’t come into fruition until the late ’70s and early ’80s, when Yosemite climbers started balancing on chains, ropes and railings.
Now it’s a common pastime in campgrounds and backyards across the country, with new interactions that include waterlining, highlining, longlining and tricklining. Even if you have trouble balancing on a sidewalk, here are a few reasons to give slacking a try.
It will improve your balanceWe don’t care if you can balance on your big toe on the tip of a surfboard; try slacklining and we guarantee the line wins for the first half an hour — at least.
Walking on a taut line is incredibly difficult, as your body has to adjust to an entirely new type of balancing. But master the line and you’ll reap the benefits of improved balance for the rest of your favorite sports (hanging 10 included).
It’s cheap and you can do it anywhere
Unlike most outdoor sports, which require travel, gear and a solid chunk of time, all you need to slackline are the line and two trees.
At the beach after a surf? Whip out the slackline. Need a break from work? Slackline. Hippie drum circle? Slackline.
It’s a challengeWhile crossing the line for the first time feels like winning a gold medal at the Olympics, there’s so much more to learn. Jumps, knee drops, switching directions — tricks will keep you busy for months.
And don’t even get us started on highlining.
You’ll break a sweat
Maintaining that level of balance and precision works almost every muscle in your body. Don’t believe us? Just watch how violently your leg shakes when you try to stand up on the slackline for the first time.
Your core, quads, even your shoulders will feel tender the day after you slackline, as all those areas are constantly firing to keep you on the line.
It’s meditation without the scented candles
Flow is the mental state you’re in when the activity you’re doing is demanding all of your attention, and it’s around in full force when you slackline. It takes an immense amount of concentration to remain that balanced, so there’s no room for cluttering thoughts that normally demand your focus.
If you need to clear your head, this is the ultimate form of meditation.
It’s a pretty cool party trick
Start walking on the line in a public place and people will flock to watch you and give it a try. It’s a great way to meet new people (and impress the hell out of them while you’re at it). Don’t be surprised if they assume you’re in the circus.