Clad in rolled-up blue jeans, a tank top and FiveFingers shoes, San Marcos resident Nicholas Gordon tested his balance on a two-inch Gibbon Jibline, characterized by the company as a slackline for the more adventurous type, on a sunny day in Sewell Park.
Feet off the ground.
Gordon, hands loosely raised beside his head, swayed to the Reggae music that played softly from his speakers as he walked on the nylon webbing that was tied between two trees.
Slacklining has become a relaxing weekly workout for him since, about three months ago, a friend invited him to participate in the sport.
“I never thought it would be possible for me to balance on a line,” Gordon said. “I saw it as a challenge. There’s something about facing the line—no excuses. It’s really direct.”
The sport, which bears a resemblance to tightrope walking, has changed the former Houstonite’s direction in life and helped him overcome physical challenges.
Muscle cramps and soreness of the body are not uncommon for beginner slackliners, Gordon said, adding that people will strain muscles they never knew existed because it is such an intense workout. To prevent injuries, he recommended that people stretch well and consider practicing yoga.
Cameron Felgate, mass communication junior, performed a yoga tree pose on a slackline as he spoke briefly about the time he met Gordon while practicing the sport at Sewell. Felgate began slacklining after suffering from a rock climbing injury.
Rock climbers are said to be responsible for the creation of slacklining. Adam Grosowsky and Jeff Ellington took climbers’ webbing and rigged a slackline when they were students at The Evergreen State College in 1979.
Felgate and Gordon are some of the San Marcos residents who have followed in the modern slacklining pioneers’ footsteps.
Nursing freshman Hannah Black said her boyfriend Jon Laing, geography resource and environmental studies sophomore, called her one day on his cell phone while simultaneously eating an apple and walking on a slackline in Sewell.
Gordon said there is a strong curiosity about slacklining in San Marcos, which prompted him to start a community group dedicated to awareness and promotion of the sport.
SlackLine San Marcos, TX has established a Facebook fan page in an attempt to receive 5,000 “likes” before approaching Gibbon Slacklines, a Boulder-based company, to sponsor a local event.
In the meantime, the group will be hosting “Slackline Sunday” events every week at Sewell.
Sewell and the San Marcos River are some of the reasons Gordon moved and has stayed in San Marcos. But since his arrival in the city, he and his fellow slackliners have had to walk the line with the Texas State Outdoor Center.
John Johnson, assistant campus recreation director, said he started to notice people slacklining across the San Marcos River last year without approval by staff of the center.
Kayakers began to express concern for their safety to Outdoor Center staff. People were told slacklining is prohibited across the river, Johnson said, adding that the center would be liable for any accidents caused by the sport.
“There really is not an approval process to go through for getting permission to slackline across the river here in Sewell Park. It is just not something that we are going to allow,” he said in an email. “To slackline across the river is a bit like allowing someone to exercise below someone that is bouldering—it is just not appropriate to put people in an impact zone where someone else may be falling.”
Even though slacklining over the river is not allowed, Gordon continues to practice in the park.
“(Slacklining) represents life itself,” Gordon said. “It’s like machines at hospitals. Flatlines mean death, while a beep takes on life.”