The new slackers on campus: Slacklining
Harry Kleiman slacklines on campus on Saturday, March 11. Slacklining originated from the climbing community as a way to train balance and mental strength.
If you’re walking on campus near the corner of University Boulevard and Park Avenue, you’ll likely find a few shirtless men balancing on a slack rope strung between two trees. These men are students with a variety of backgrounds who all share one thing in common: Their love of slacklining.
Slacklining is an activity where you balance and walk across a length of rope fixed above the ground and stretched just enough to leave a slack in the middle.
Students Harry Kleiman, 21, and Brad LoStracco, 19, discovered slacklining a little over a month ago and have been hooked ever since.
Kleiman is a foreign exchange student from London who previously studied geography at the University of Bristol. He has been at the UA since the fall semester.
When he saw people slacklining outside of the psychology building, he was immediately intrigued and ordered a slackline off Amazon.
LoStracco, a freshman pre-nursing major, had heard of slacklining before meeting Kleiman but had never tried it until Kleiman bought his own.
Although the two are relatively new to the activity, they are already able to walk the full length of the line and are working on mastering new tricks.
LoStracco admits that his first time slacklining was a challenge.
“But after five days of doing it consecutively, I was able to walk the whole length,” he said.
Now he is working on turning around while walking.
Kleiman said that his favorite trick to practice is raising the slack line and then stepping on with one foot to immediately turn around and walk backwards.
He recalls that it took him about a week until he was able to walk the length of the rope.
“Once you do that, it is such a steep learning curve and you can pick it up so much easier,” he said.
On average, the two slackline five to seven days a week for a few hours each day.
The majority of their slacklining is done in the park on campus, but they each have goals for heights and locations they want to slackline in the future.
After seeing videos of people slacklining at extreme heights in Joshua Tree National Park and Yosemite National Park, Kleiman set a goal to go high lining, but noted that he needs a bit of practice before then. He was able to accomplish one of his goals earlier this month when he and LoStracco took their slackline to Tanque Verde Falls.
“We went to Tanque Verde Falls, took the slack line with us and did it over the water there, which was really cool,” Kleiman said. “That was my first goal. The two aim to slackline over an even larger body of water.”
“So, we can do it and then if we fall we will just fall into the water,” LoStracco said.
When slacklining on campus, the men receive a variety of reactions from people walking by.
“You always see people looking over and as soon as we fall off they look away,” LoStracco said. “Some people walk up to us and want to try it and other people just want to watch.”
Kleiman said one of the best parts about slacklining is the social aspect and the opportunity to constantly meet people who either already slackline or want to learn.
“It’s quite cool,” Kleiman said. “Whenever we do it, more or less every time, someone comes up and says, ‘Can I have a go?’ or some guy said, ‘Oh I slackline as well’ and he brought his slackline so there were three of us slacklining next to each other.”
LoStracco said one of his favorite parts about slacklining is unwinding from the day.
“It’s really relaxing and to be able to go outside for an hour or hour and a half and just forget about everything from the school day,” he said.
Kleiman also said he loves the chance to get outside and enjoy slacklining.
“It gets you outside, is a distraction from work and is something different,” he said. “I haven’t picked anything new up recently, and it’s quite cool because it’s really hard but once you get something it’s really rewarding.”