Slackliners

A new trend has hit Exeter this year in form of the Exeter Slack Line Society. Running sessions from 2-6 each Thursday in the Lemmy, I was asked by Razz to go along and see what this society was all about. ‘Sure’ I said, ‘sounds great’. But it was only after I had agreed that anyone told me exactly what Slacklining would involve…

“It’s a cross between a tightrope and a trampoline”

I suddenly started to worry about what exactly I’d gotten myself into. Not blessed with the best sense of balance or co-ordination in the world, I worried about how I would get on. The concept of balancing, walking and eventually bouncing on a nylon line only 1 inch wide was pretty daunting!

However, I needn’t have worried – Slacklining turned out to be incredibly fun and a brilliant use of a Thursday afternoon.

The Lemmy was strung with three lines, each a different width and tension. Thankfully, two out of three lines were served with crash-mats which eased my worries of not being able to balance and falling off! I stood at the side and watched members of the committee launch themselves onto the line; appearing almost weightless they performed tricks using their arms as counterbalances. I was particularly impressed by those using the trick line as they were able to bounce, turn, and mimic stunts usually associated with gymnasts.

After being shown what to do, I decided to have a go. Putting all of my weight on my left foot and bouncing up onto the line while waving my arms and probably pulling a few terrified expressions in the process, I eventually got the knack. It took me a few tries and several wobbles before I was able to mount the line and take a few ginger steps but I was able to progress relatively quickly.

Slacklining takes concentration, core strength and the ability to laugh at yourself when things go a little… wobbly. It’s the perfect supplement to sports requiring core stability and the perfect counter to essay stress. I’ll certainly be back next session to try and improve!

It surprised me that so many people were trying Slacklining for the very first time just like me. The society seems to be drawing in more and more people each week simply through word of mouth. Considering that it is so late into term two I’d say that this is a great credit to the society and the committee – who by the way, were exceedingly friendly. Exeter Slackliners clearly have a lot of potential. Having only started up earlier this year, the committee are looking forward to the AGM on the 20th March where the Slack Line Society’s legacy will be confirmed.

But where did such a bizarre sport come from? First developed by Californian rock climbers in the 1970s, Adam Grosowsky and Jeff Elington tied their rock climbing lines across their base camp and practised balancing and walking across the lines during their downtime. Forty years on, the boredom buster of two humble rock climbers has become a recognised sport with several variations. A cousin of tightrope walking, slacklining variants include Waterlining, Highlining and even Slackline Yoga. The World Slacklining Federation holds international competitions each year and now Exeter University is proud to have its very own society complete with tie-dye stash.

Currently confined to the Lemmy due to the poor weather, the society will be moving out to Bury Meadow Park on Saturdays – stringing their slack lines between the trees as soon as the sun decides to make an appearance again. June will see a SlackLine marathon and BBQ with aspirations to get the Guinness Book of Records team involved.

Being such an abstract sport which ultimately relies upon you being able to relax, I would predict its success heightening during the dreaded third term and the exam season. Whether you drop by for 20 minutes or the entire session, you’ll have fun, forget about your deadlines, mix with some pretty cool people and do something that is completely out of the ordinary.

Check out the Exeter Slackliner’s facebook page here and why not watch their video too?

And if you’ve got time spare on a Thursday afternoon – why not go and try it for yourself? It’s definitely well worth it!

Written for Razz by Rachel Woods.

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