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Slacklining doubles as stress reliever, workout

Sabrina Grislis

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Considering how busy college students’ lives can get with school, work and homework, finding something that can double as a stress reliever and a workout is hard to come by. For some Chico State students, like senior outdoor education major Riley Cox, they’ve found their happy medium— slacklining.

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Riley Cox, outdoor education senior, practices slacklining to maintain mental and physical health. Photo credit: Alicia Brogden

A slackline is a piece of webbing, typically about one inch wide, slung between two points, Cox said. It has slack to it, so it moves and wiggles when one walks across it.

Cox got into slacklining about three years ago when he and his brother saw their neighbor had a slackline set up in his backyard.

“My brother and I saw it and thought, ‘That looks awesome!’ Our neighbor had some extra materials that we bought off of him. Slowly over time, we learned some tricks and techniques,” Cox said. “It just exploded from that. It turned into a passion.”

Not to be confused with tightrope walking where the cord is taut, slacklining can come in a variety of forms. Highlining, in which a slackline is slung high in the air, requires the same principles as regular slacklining with more technical rigging as well as tremendous skill.

“Highlining is something I really want to do in the future,” Cox said. “It’s something that I’m heading toward.”

There is a multitude of less extreme forms of slacklining, however, for those who are more faint-of-heart: slackline yoga, waterlining and tricklining are just a few.

“I’m more of a yoga type of slackliner,” Cox said. “I like to as smoothly as possible get into different positions and do different tricks.”

Not only does slacklining work out your physical health, there are mental health benefits that go along with this increasingly-popular activity.

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Small muscles that most people don’t even know they have are utilized for stability while slacklining, Cox said.

“One of my other main passions is rock climbing,” Cox said. “As a rock climber, I feel like slacklining really fine-tunes my body’s awareness and my ability to correct and balance.”

The mental health benefits of slacklining also attract many slackliners.

“When I’m really stressed out or have a lot plaguing me mentally I like to walk, even for just half an hour,” Cox said. “That’s half an hour out of my day where I’m not so stressed out.”

For Chico State students who want to get into slacklining, Cox can shed some knowledge.

“My biggest tip would be to not be afraid to mess up and to learn through trial and error,” he said. “Slacklining is really, really hard to pick up in two days. It took me two weeks before I could even take a step.”

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Although slacklining is not the most prominent activity at Chico State, there is no reason not to try and get started. Considering the stress that comes with being a college student, finding a physically and mentally healthy activity to de-stress is a valuable commodity.

Whether you decide to head to Bidwell Park, make your way to the ropes course near Yolo Field or join a friend who owns a slackline, take a leap and try out slacklining.

“It’s like a meditation thing. When I start walking on the slackline, my mind goes kind of blank,” Cox said. “I don’t really think about anything else. I hit this zen mode.”

Sabrina Grislis can be reached at [email protected] or @sabrinagrislis on Twitter.

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Slacklining doubles as stress reliever, workout