No slackers here!
If you are a slackliner, the phrase ‘walking a tightrope’ gets a whole new meaning times two. For the uninitiated, slacklining involves walking on a webbing of one- or two-inch width suspended in air, held taught between two anchors, but, mind you, the tension is slightly less than that of a tightrope. It’s kind of bouncy too, like a trampoline.
Watching this sport in action is something else, and passers-by stop transfixed when it’s done in the Botanical Gardens in Kondapur by slackliner Chanakya Nani during the weekends.
Chanakya was first exposed to the sport in 2014 during a slacklining event organised by Great Hyderabad Adventure Club (GHAC) and was hooked. He has been slacklining around Hyderabad and Pune, apart from rock climbing ever since. With four years of experience under his belt, the youngster, who is an IT professional, decided to teach the sport to anyone interested in testing their balancing skills.
“I started the group Hyderabad Slackliners Group, in association with GHAC, and began to conduct regular workshops of 90-minute duration in parks and locations with an abundance of trees. The rigging is a simple webbing and we sometimes place a cushion underneath in the middle to break any falls, if the suspension is a bit high,” says Chanakaya.
Modern-day slacklining began some 40 years ago by fluke in Yosemite National Park, USA, where rock climbers did it to pass time while maintaining their concentration, fitness, core strength, and balance skills. Think of it as a mash-up of balance beam routine, trampolining and tightrope walking. Chanakya mentions that it can take one to three years to progress across different levels of slacklining – waterline, highline, trickline, rodeoline, etc., – provided you do it regularly. Waterline is done over water, highline between cliffs, and tricklining, as the name suggests, is a combination of gymnastics, acrobatics, and slacklining where the line is rigged with a stretchy webbing under a high tension, so a person can bounce, jump, flip, and spin and do other tricks.
Chanakya also visits Pune and Lonavala for the more advanced forms of the sport done in the Slackline and Highline festival where professional slackliners such as Samar Farooqui also take part. “Whatever form you do, you will observe an improvement in your balance, coordination and flexibility overall. It will also help you focus better. The beauty of this sport is anyone can do it. I have children as young as six and people in their 60s doing it. Everyone starts on an even playing field here, so, more than competition, there is fun and laughter as you get the hang of it,” adds Chanakya.
Anything beyond 50 metres is called Longline.
Famous slackliners of the world are Alexander Schulz, Faith Dickey, Bernhard Witz, and Damian Jorren.