Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Why You Should Be A Slacker

This is a follow up post to our basic slack lining post, read on to discover the benefits of being a slacker.

If you're like most people you're probably looking at the picture above and thinking to yourself, "Why in God's name would anyone ever want to do that!?" Well, that my friends is the question that I'm going to try and answer in this post. 

I'll try and list all the benefits of being a slacker but I doubt that I'll be able to list them all so, if you have any more reasons why you think slack lining is awesome or if you have any questions about anything please post in the comments! With that being said let's get to it! 

The Benefits!
  • Physical: For those of you who haven't ever slack lined and think that it doesn't look very physically demanding I've got some news for you, it is! Now don't get me wrong it is actually pretty mellow especially when you're first learning and you can't stand on a line for longer then 1 second it isn't all that demanding. Once you're good though and can stay on a line for over 5 minutes you will start to feel the burn. You know those exercises where you hold your arms out to your sides for 5 minutes and your shoulders start to burn? Well, it's like that but you don't just feel the burn in your shoulders. You use your core as well as your back the entire time you're on a line because you're constantly trying to maintain balance and correct your posture causing your core muscles to always be contracted! You'll also be using muscles you probably rarely use in daily life which means that they'll have to adjust which is quite the challenge. Not to mention you have to tighten the line which is a whole body workout by itself!

  • Mental: People make it look easy when they walk on a line but I promise you that it takes an incredible amount of focus, especially if the line is 1,000 feet in the air! Most people today are almost always running around trying to do 100 things at once. Think about it when is the last time you completely focused all of your attention on just doing one task? It's probably been a while right? Well when you try to walk on a 1 inch wide piece of webbing that's moving around you literally cannot think about anything else. I mean, I guess you can but you're going to fall off. This is especially true when you're first learning. It takes 100% of you're effort to just stand up, let alone walk on the thing. What I like to do when I walk is just look at the end of the line and breathe. I breathe audibly and consciously say "in" and "out" with every breath. I don't always do this because sometimes I'm just goofing around but it's become a habit when I'm trying something difficult to buckle down, focus, and breathe. What you'll likely notice after doing this for sometime is that you have the increased ability to focus when you're on a line but, also off the line too. You'll be able to focus more at work, school, and even in conversations with others. You won't constantly be thinking about a million things at once. Having this ability to relax, focus, and breathe will probably also lead to decreased stress which leads us to.

  • Emotional: Since you now have the awesome ability to focus on the task at hand and block out any negative thoughts or emotions you will probably notice a huge decrease in overall stress. When you're walking on a line it's not just enough to be able to breathe and focus you have to be able to shut down negative thoughts, and learn some positive self talk. Simply put, if you think you're going to fall and saying to yourself "Oh no, hold on!" Odds are pretty high that you are in fact going to fall. It's not enough to say "don't fall" you have to be able to tell yourself "I can do this" and actually believe it. You have to know for a fact that you are completely capable of what you are trying to do.This is hard enough when you're just a couple of feet off of the ground but imagine when you're 500 ft up. It's absolutely paramount that you be able to focus and that know that you can walk on this line. Since you'll be thinking and telling yourself all this positive stuff pretty frequently while you slack line it will naturally become a habit and transfer to other areas in your life. You won't shirk more responsibility at work for fear of failing because you'll be able to say and know for a fact that you can do new things without fear of failing. You won't worry about flunking a test because you'll know that you've prepared yourself thoroughly and that you're fully capable of passing.Now, I'm not saying it's absolutely perfect and that you'll never be stressed again because I'm sure you will be. You should notice a significant decrease overall though, and that's a pretty good start. 

  • Social:You may not think that something only one person can do at time would have a social factor but it actually has a surprising one. For starters, tightening lines is pretty hard and it's much easier to tighten a line with more people so, invite your friends and tug! Also, things like high lines take an incredible amount of effort to set up. You may have to rock climb to get to the anchors or you might have to hand drill the bolts for the anchors, which is quite the experience. You'll also have to haul all of your gear around. Slack lining is quite like any number of hobbies it's just generally more fun with more people! I mean, when is it not a good time to have a group of people with a similar interest get together? You and your friends can also push each others limits which works great for preventing plateaus. You can all encourage each other to learn new things on the line or maybe even new disciplines. I was introduced to high lining through a friend who had met some high liners in Yosemite who just happened to come to our home town. I actually almost tried to back flip off of a line once just because I saw someone else do it and figured I could too.(I didn't actually buck up and try it though, flips are scary!) You'll meet great people and after a full day of trying to push each other and learn new tricks you can all hang out and have a brewski together it's just overall a great community of people. 

  • Financial: I'll be honest this one is sort of a catch 22. You can get everything you need to get started in this sport for 100 dollars or less. That's pretty cheap considering that you'd be pretty set to continue in the sport for as long as you like and you'd get all the previously mentioned benefits. I mean, it's a whole lot cheaper than paying for a therapist for reducing stress! That much money could get enough gear and webbing for a nice primitive set up. You would actually be able to afford more webbing than you'll need in the beginning but if you just get one long piece from the start you won't have to buy more later on. Anyway, you could learn the basics with traditional slack lining, and then as you progress depending on how much webbing you have you can continue to make your lines longer and longer, or you can start to get into trick lining. Really you can do whatever suits your fancy. If you're really creative you can even set up something like a water line, these are amazing by the way! You won't be able to set up lines past a certain length or high lines without a serious investment though. If you really love slack lining and you know that you're going to keep doing it then I think it's worth the investment to get some long line equipment. You can actually get into long lining for a pretty reasonable amount  considering once you have the gear you're pretty well set for life. You can also ghetto rig a long line for really cheap if you're creative. There's no law that says you have to buy the nicest possible gear from Slackline Bros that money can buy, though they do make some seriously quality gear. You can buy pulleys and line lockers from hardware stores like Lowes for a fraction of the price. It won't be specifically designed for slack lining but you can definitely make do. If something breaks while you're on a long line your not very high off the ground anyway so I'm sure you'll be fine. It's your decision though so if you do get hurt you better not sue me! Now, where this changes is when it comes to high lining. Never under any circumstances ghetto rig a high line! I don't care if it's your life and you don't care if you die! It affects the rest of the slacking community and could possibly lead to certain lines getting shut down. Don't do it! Period! I haven't heard of anyone dying on a high line and I don't want you to be the first. It's a serious sport and requires some serious research, and some seriously expensive gear. High lining is the most expensive type of slack lining it's a huge money pit, but let's be honest your life is probably worth more than a couple thousand bucks. That might not sound like much to some people but to me that's a pretty big price tag for a hobby and it's not like low lining where you can say "this carabiner is old, but whatever if it breaks it's no big deal." You have to constantly check and replace any shoddy gear. Once again it's you're life we're talking about here, and now you've been warned before going in that it's expensive. If you absolutely must high line but don't want to pay for it get out and meet some people who are already into the sport. Be nice and helpful and chip in for other stuff and they'll probably love having you along to help them haul and set up all their gear. It's also a great way to learn things, and there is an absolutely huge amount of information to be learned when it comes to high lining. Just make sure you're new found friends are safe too! 
Well folks that just about wraps it up but there is one more reason you should try slack lining. It's just plain fun! Honestly it's and absolute blast but if you don't believe me get out there and try it! Like I said earlier if you have any more reasons why this sport is awesome or any questions about getting started post in the comments! I promise I'll get back to you!