Slacking

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Forgo the gym with its recurring membership fees, bad smells and sweaty, muscle bound regulars; start slacking! That’s the hip jargon for Slacklining.

What’s slacklining? That’s exactly what I wondered while reading an Outside Magazine interview of Sally Jewel, CEO of outdoor retail giant REI. In the interview Jewel was quoted saying that “what our customers need are ‘gee whiz’ products to take their minds off the recession”. I’d sure like to take my mind off the economy, I thought. So I read on. The two “gee whiz” products she mentioned were paddleboards and slacklines. Shazam! I thought, “I’m halfway to forgetting…”. I already had the paddleboard half covered, I just had to figure out what “slacklining” was.

Google gave me the answer: nylon webbing slung between two trees (or two cliffs for the adrenally insane) that you balance and walk on. It’s akin to tightrope walking yet more of a cousin than a brother. As the names imply one is tight and the other slack. Because the webbing is slack the proficient “slacker” can do some pretty amazing stunts while transiting the slackline. I learned this by visiting YouTube. Wow! Back flips, front flips, helicopters… I was amazed, inspired and perhaps a smidge concerned for my future wellbeing.

I threw caution on the ground and stomped on it like a child atop a puddle. I could not let fear of fractures, lacerations or impalement derail my intent. I ordered my slackline that same day and opted for 2nd day delivery, remembering that I was still trying to forget the recession!

When my FreeFlow slackline kit arrived I quickly liberated it from it’s cardboard coffin. “Cool!” And off I went to set it up as I had learned by watching FreeFlow’s instructional YouTube video–repetatly.

I did not do any backflips. Nor front. I could hardly stand up on the contraption. My knees wobbled like an out-of-balance laundry load. This would take perseverance. I have an abundance so how arduous could it be?

Not that hard at all, really, once you get past the knee-knocking inception. Within days I was crossing the line. By weeks end I could turn and walk back across. A month later I was mounting the slackline by leaping up on it with a running start. Each session brings a new milestone and a greater sense of physical fitness. And although the moment’s precise timing escapes me, I did realize I had in fact forgotten about the economy: I had enthusiastically purchased a dozen kits and become a FeeFlow Slackline dealer!

It’s addictive! It’s a profound workout and comes in handy for balance and coordination training. Surfers, rock climbers and a hefty chunk of regular folk are already out there slacking. Come join the craze.

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