I Did It: Slacklining

8 Jun
Our instructor told us to keep our arms up for balance. "Like cops. 'Don't shoot!'"

Our instructor told us to keep our arms up for balance. “Like cops. ‘Don’t shoot!'”

“I Did It” is a feature post running on I’m Skinny, Now What where I will tackle a new workout or diet for a week and give you my opinion. Wish me luck, because I don’t like changing my routine.

Over the weekend I took part in New York’s OutdoorFest, an annual event to get people excited and educated about all the outdoor activities the city has to offer. There is a misconception about New Yorkers that all we do is walk from the door to the train and to another door. That’s not entirely inaccurate. That mostly happens on weekdays. On the weekends, however, we are a busy bunch. We run, we row, we hike, we even surf (New York does border an ocean, you know).

With all these and many more activities abound, it can get overwhelming to pick which one is right for you. That’s why when I perused the OutdoorFest schedule, I took a liking to the idea of slacklining. Instead of walking a tightrope, the rope–or line–you walk is slack, making it a bit more bouncy and lower to the ground when you get to the center.

I’m always up for trying something new, so I called a friend and had her try it with me.

What I learned

The first thing I learned about slacklining is that my concept of balance was a little off. I had to balance myself on one foot on a wobbly line on a windy day in a rooftop playground. I also learned that that all the squats I’ve been doing were child’s play compared to the feat of trying to stand up from a near-sitting position only using one leg.

But I also learned that my years of dance training have come in handy. That helped with using our standing leg to lift the balancing leg. Basically, I used my line leg to push off to stand rather than the balancing leg, keeping my weight relatively balanced to stand.

Also, our instructors made sure we understood that our hips had to stay straight and squared. Wobbly hips equals a wobbly line equals falling. It takes a while to get your body used to the unnatural position of standing on one foot on an unsteady surface. A few more practice tries should do it.

Camille, my instructor, giving me a little support.

Camille, my instructor, giving me a little support.

Once we were able to simply balance ourselves on the line, we tried walking. Some people were excellent at it. I was not one of those people. Every time I tried to put one foot in front of the other, I’d lose my confidence and just step off of the line. At one point my instructor tried to hold my arm steady and that helped move me across the line. But once she was gone, so was my mojo.

My instructor told me it takes a few weeks to get comfortable enough with the line to stay steady and walk, so not to get discouraged. Still, it was a bit of a womp-womp moment when many of my classmates took to it like fish to water.

One day, slackline. One day.


Slacklining is actually a lot of fun. It takes you back to being a kid and walking the balance beam. Plus if you get really proficient at it, you can do some really cool tricks.

Which is good because you’ll be working your thigh muscles very hard. My thighs were achy the next day, but not so much that I couldn’t function. All in all, I recommend slacklining, especially as a group activity. You can find slacklining groups in your area through MeetUp or this Wiki.

photos and video courtesy of Zenovia Earle

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