Fitness & Health

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Marc Jan | Fulcrum Staff

WITH NO REAL idea about the activity known as slacklining—aside from satirically drawn black-and-whites from the ‘30s involving men with all-too-big moustaches and long balancing rods atop tall buildings in New York City—I decided to hit up local parks to investigate this recently popular hobby. And boy was I ever surprised.

“The easiest way to start is at one end, wouldn’t you say?” explained Scott Lemay, a fourth-year international management student at the University of Ottawa. “And then you basically just get on, find a focal point—don’t look down, just look straight—and then just balance.”

Lemay’s advice on learning how to slackline translates well into the kind of philosophy you could live your life by.

“I would make it a hobby of mine, yeah,” said Corey Ritchie, a fourth-year accounting student at the University of Ottawa. “It’s kind of Zen, you know?”

It’s the kind of activity that will relax you and leave you with a sense of direction.

“I think the first half-hour you spend trying to get your balance,” Ritchie explained. He also told me that this was actually only his third time slacklining.

“It takes a long time to get your first four steps, and then you get a lot better as soon as you find your own way of making balance.”

For a busybody without much time to spare, this means that slacklining is a high-reward activity, especially for beginners. It’s the type of weekend you’ll want to talk about all week.

Simply talking about slacklining wasn’t enough for me, however—I had to try it. After only a couple seconds with my socks off, I noticed that the line, although it was taut, seemed to magnify the miniscule fear I felt in how it shook. I took a deep breath, looked up, and began focusing on the idea of how easy it is just to walk.

After a short while, I noticed my other foot was no longer on the ground. I went for my first step and just bailed.

“I would say for middle-aged people the difficulty is obviously a little higher,” Ritchie said when I asked how difficult he thought slacklining was. “But in terms of sports, I’d say maybe a five out of 10.”

The line can be adjusted for tautness and height to make it easier or harder depending on the desired difficulty.

There’s a group on Facebook called “Slackline Ottawa” for anyone who wants to try this activity without having to buy a slackline.

Another possibility is just going out to the park; in just a two-day venture, I came across a slackline every time I was in one.