By Xavier Vivas
Besides the many benefits of practicing slacklining such as core strength, focus and balance, slacklining also builds healthier and supportive communities. After traveling and residing in different cities in North America, Mexico and South America to promote slacklining, I have always noticed that slacklining communities are growing at a very fast rate and I have also discovered that these groups are very supportive to teach others to gain balance in a non-competitive setting. However, in almost all the cities a common characteristic I found was the lack of support from municipal entities. Many times I witnessed how park rangers as well as the police, were forcing slackliners to take down their slacklines mainly for non-sense reasons.
Let’s not forget that protecting the tree barks is part of being a responsible slackliner and it is true that we still have a long way to go to educate slacklining athletes to always use tree protection before setting their equipment. It is even more important to educate slackliners as well as bikers and pedestrians to respect park rules when it comes to safety. Setting a slackline on a bike path could of course cause fatal injuries, but sometimes also when is set properly due to pedestrian or biker’s lack of diligence.
An increasing popularity of Slacklining in Canada
Furthermore, after witnessing the huge popularity of this new activity – considered as a way of life for some – I think it will be necessary for city authorities to change the way they deal with this new sport instead of just banning the activity or to make use of bylaws to restrict slacklining as it has happened in Vancouver, Seattle and a few locations in Montreal.
I believe that creating more and more areas for slacklining could be the start of a new policy that would not only be fair to adepts of this activity but will also foster safety guidelines and wellbeing in communities.
Slacklining is a Wide Niche
Slacklining embraces a bigger and more diverse niche than what seems to be obvious. More and more physiotherapists in Germany, Canada and the United States are making use of slacklines as a complement to their therapy. Parents who bought a slackline for their kids are now becoming slackliners and even seniors who want to reinforce their ankles and knees are making use of slacklines to strengthen their bodies.
Furthermore, if you also take into account all the new kids, teenagers and adults that are becoming slackliners you will be able to realize that this activity will be seen more and more in parks all over the world and therefore, it will be normal to slack with your friends on a sunny day while you enjoy of a barbecue.
That said, if Canadian cities are to remain open to the challenges of new trends such as parkour, slacklining or urban highlining, it will be necessary to show more support and initiative because a restrictive policy will, in the end, have the opposite effect. Slacklining has many benefits and only one side-effect: it is addictive! More and more research is being done and it supports the advantages of slacklining for the mind, body and soul. If you don’t believe me just try it and then let’s have a chat.
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