When it comes to fitness tests, there’s a few that probably come to mind for you. The painful bleep test favoured by gym teachers and rugby coaches, VO2 Max tests on treadmills or bikes, or my personal non-favourite, flexibility tests that involve trying to touch your toes. But there are different, fun kinds of fitness tests too – like trying to do slacklining. I was introduced to it by a friend after a workout session, and I was impressed at how easy it was to set up (you just need two pillars and a simple strap with two ratchet attachments), and how much it tested your core strength and balance skills. It’s slightly different from tightrope walking, as the line is not as taut (there’s less tension, giving it a trampoline-like feel) and it’s flat, not round.
Yes, you may be able to squat 200kg, but can you keep your balance while walking across a 2.5 or 5cm wide rope? At first, I thought that this slacklining was only for barefoot hippies and suicidal climbers, but anyone can play around on it. This is under the Gear section for a reason, if you’re looking for a fun way to do some exercise while on holiday: just invest in a strap, and you’ll be able to set it up almost anywhere.I’ve just bought myself a Firestarter Skeleton 15m Starter Kit from Slackgear, and it’s fantastic portable kit for a beginner (up to intermediate skill level too). They also sell a 35m long kit for the more advanced slackers too.
Then pack it in your backpack, and set it up wherever you go. You get extra points if it’s over water, but you can suspend it close to ground level to keep yourself safe and you can adjust the tension and length. And if it starts getting easy for you, can try do a pistol squat, a slackline handstand or you can even try a jump. Or you can be crazy and aim to do something like Lukas Huber does in the video below. Whatever you do, slacklining does guarantee one thing that’s needed in anyone’s training plan: some fun. Consider it a cool piece of training gear to keep in your cupboard or to pack for your next holiday.
PROS: Fun, harmless (obviously if set-up properly) and relatively inexpensive. Can help improve balancing skills and core strength. Almost anyone can do it.
CONS: It’s not a muscle- or cardio-building tool, it focuses purely on proprioception, skill and co-ordination. Surprisingly addictive.