From archery to zumba, there are countless ways to get active.
But have you mastered the butt bounce, lemur leap or mojo tap spin? If not, you might want to give slacklining a try.
And if the high wire walker was your favorite circus act or you were right at home on the balance beam, then slacklining might well be for you. But you don’t need to be an acrobat to give it a try.
“Anybody can do it,” said Brandon Riggins, co-owner of True Heights Equipment Outfitter. “It takes time to develop the micromuscles but once you’ve done that, it’s like riding a bike.”
What is slacklining?
The origins of slacklining are rooted in the climbing community.
During their time in camps, climbers would rig climbing ropes from tree to tree and walk across them. While it was fun, the activity also helped improve their core strength and balance.
Slacklining was born.
Modern day slacklining involves balancing on a narrow, flexible piece of webbing which is low to the ground and usually anchored between two trees. No longer just for climbers, slacklining has evolved into a cross trainer, backyard activity and sport all its own.
“It’s fun and it’s a great way to stay in shape,” said Emmy Fabich, founder of Slackline Dayton. “It’s a great full-body workout that also requires concentration.”
And patience is essential.
“It took me about a month until I was comfortable walking across the line,” Riggins said.
But he was hooked after just a few tries.
“I keep a slackline in my car and if I’m at a cookout or at the park, I’ll set it up,” he said. “I love it.”
Riggins has observed several physical benefits of the sport.
“I definitely notice a difference in my abdomen and obliques,” he said. “I demonstrated it one day for six hours and, the next day, I felt like I did a million sit-ups. But this is a whole lot more fun.”
You can give slacklining a try in Beavercreek at True Heights Equipment Outfitter, which has several slackracks, portable freestanding slacklines, to test out. And while slacklines aren’t as easy to find as basketball hoops or, even, tennis courts in neighborhood parks, you might run across Riggins or Fabich practicing at a local park.
“People can’t help but be curious when they see me slacklining,” Fabich said. “And there is always someone who wants to give it a try.”
Five Rivers MetroParks offer Try Slacklining classes and slacklining is always a popular area at the Midwest Outdoor Experience.
Balancing on one leg, with that leg slightly bent to lower your center of gravity, is a good way to get started. Keep your arms overhead with elbows above your shoulders. Keep your back straight or lean back a bit and focus on something in front of you, not below you.
Engage your core to help you gain and keep your balance. Try to stay on each leg for 20 seconds and then switch. Being barefoot can help you feel the line better and enable you to find your balance more quickly. And don’t worry about every wobble, it’s part of the process.
Once you learn how to keep your balance on the slackline — which might take some time — you can try walking.
Walk with your feet straight on the line, not across, and your hips, chest and head straight against the anchor. Slow and steady is the way to go, it’s not a race.
Beyond the basics
Once you have mastered walking, there is plenty more you can do including turns, walking backwards and jumps.
Tricklining is just what it sounds like but it isn’t for beginners. There is also longlining (walking a line longer than 98 feet) and highlining, for those who are a bit more daring.
And the YogaSlackers practice yoga — you guessed it — on a slackline. Think Warrior I pose while balancing on a slackline.
There are professional teams around the globe from the United States to Poland and Brazil to the Netherlands and a Slackline World Championship.
The slackline can also be used as a tool to improve your overall fitness. Slacklining Magazine recently detailed ways to incorporate the slackline into your workout by exercising on it and with it. Do lunges while on the slackline or pushups while holding onto the line and feet on the ground.
And while the sport originated outdoors — from tree to tree — portable sets enable enthusiasts to practice indoors. Like True Heights, Great Miami Outfitters, in Miamisburg, also carries a variety of slacklining equipment.
You can also learn more or meet up with other slacklining enthusiasts through Slackline Dayton on Facebook.
“The sport is really growing in the Midwest and it’s easy to see why,” Fabich said. “There are so many facets to it, I could spend hours on the slackline.”