Imagine that each time you pick one foot up to put it in front of the other an earth quake begins. That’s how a beginner at slacklining might feel as they struggle to keep balance on a 2-inch wide line strung about 3 feet off the ground between two trees.
However, for Matthew “Matt” Morin, Alec Jacob and their slacklining group, walking across the tension line is nothing new. In fact, they are trying to learn new tricks. Even a simple bounce or jump can take hours of practice and repetitive tries to keep from losing balance and falling off.
“Matt was the inspiration of it all,” said Jacob, who joined Morin in slacklining after seeing him practicing at the UCF main campus.
Most of the time Morin will set up his equipment at the end of the John T. Washington Center Breezeway between classes or as often as Florida weather permits.
It’s hard not to slow down or stop to watch as these Knights walk the line.
“We have people stop to watch all the time,” said Morin; “asking ‘Is this a tight rope, can I try?’”
Morin never turns away someone who is interested in slacklining and he often invites those who stop to watch, like Malik Jones and Lionel Lizince, to give it a try.
Neither Jones nor Lizince had tried slacklining before meeting Morin.
“This is not as easy as they make it seem,” Jones said after several attempts.
Morin advised them that it was best to start out bare foot or to have flat shoes, such as skate shoes. Morin also directed them to a second line that had been set up which was not as bouncy or as high.
Morin uses a Gibbon Trickline with a ratchet system, which allows him to make the line loose or tight depending on what he needs. The tighter the tension the more stability he has but keeping it slightly loose gives him more bounce for bigger tricks.
While Morin makes it look easy slacklining takes a large amount of balance and core strength, according to slackline4u.com. Because of this slacklining has become a useful fitness tool.
In 2012, Men’s Journal featured a story on slacklining in their health and fitness section and slackline yoga (or Slackasana) has also seen a growing trend since that time as well.
Morin has been doing this for more than a year and as more people became interested began an unofficial UCF Facebook page (Slackline UCF) to keep everyone informed about where and when they might meet.
Morin has contemplated on beginning an official UCF club but after learning that UCF requires equipment to be held by the school when not in use has decided to wait, not sure how to keep his or others personal equipment separated. “Maybe if we can get some sponsors,” said Matt.
But for now they will remain the unofficial UCF slackers and you can stop by and check them out by the breezeway and give it a try yourself.