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Iowa State Daily

‘Just slackin’ off’: Slackline Club finds fun and community in balancing

Madi Bierl
Lindsey Broderick, a senior in geology and Wesley Anderson, a junior in forestry doing shoulder stands on central campus Wednesday, Oct. 4.

It’s a cool day at Iowa State and a group is gathering off in the distance. Feet are in the air. A couple of people seem off balance, trying their best not to fall. What may look like tightrope walking is something a little different – slacklining.

The Slackline Club at Iowa State was founded last year by Lindsey Broderick, the club’s president and a senior studying geology.

“Sometimes I tell people it’s like tightrope walking, but it doesn’t do it justice,” Broderick said. “It makes it seem more daunting than it is.”

Broderick described slacklining as learning how to balance and walk on a tight flat rope tied between two trees. The group utilizes TreeHuggers, a felt tree protector to prevent abrasion, so the slackline does not do any damage to the bark on the trees.

“Our rules are always to have something between the tree and the slackline, and always have a 12-inch diameter tree or bigger,” Wesley Anderson, a junior in forestry and the club’s safety and access coordinator, said. Anderson said he has been slacklining for around six years.

Anderson said the club utilizes two different types of lines. One is the two-inch wide line, typically attached by a ratchet. The second is one inch wide which is usually attached by pulleys and carabiners. Most beginners start on the two-inch, as the one-inch is a more advanced line. These lines are usually about 10 meters long, and Anderson said he has done an 80-meter-long one on Central Campus.

Broderick said she has been slacklining on and off for about two years and got better once she started practicing weekly through the club meetings. Broderick said she always welcomes newcomers to Slacklining Club, and is there to provide tutorials, tips and tricks.

According to Broderick, it is important to “elegantly hop up all in one motion” when getting on the line, and to keep a tight core and focus.

“My mind kind of goes blank, it’s kind of like a meditation thing,” Broderick said. “You can’t really look anywhere else, because it will throw you off balance. You have to really hone in your focus.”

Broderick said one of her favorite tricks to do is a shoulder stand. With one shoulder on the line and one hand on the ground with her feet in the air, her face is about six inches from the ground when doing the trick.

The club averages about 10-15 regular members, and every week they have a different theme. Recent themes include fruit and rainbow day for National Coming Out Day.

“I see a lot of new people coming in here, people who might be pretty shy at first and they meet other people who are really welcoming and they open up,” Leah Gildehaus, a sophomore in forestry and the club’s vice president, said. She said they seem to really enjoy slacking when they try it out.

“I like the community,” Anderson said. “I feel like slackliners attract a certain type of person and they’re always good people. I always say I’ve never met a slackliner I didn’t like.”

It may seem scary or frustrating to people who have never tried slacklining before, Gildehaus said. She recommended sticking with it, and chances are within a week walking on the line is a good goal.

“Whatever you put in is exactly what you get out,” Anderson said. “If you practice for an hour, I feel like everyone gets the same amount of growth.”

Broderick describes it as a steep learning curve but finds joy in the moment it clicks for newcomers.

“New people get on the line and balance for like three seconds and then it clicks,” Broderick said. “They go a couple more seconds and then they take their first steps. It’s really rewarding to see.”

The club meets at 5 p.m. every Wednesday northwest of the Campanile on Central Campus between Curtiss and Beardshear Halls. Broderick said that anyone interested should come and try it out, whether it is for 10 minutes, 30 minutes or an hour.

“We’re just slackin’ off at Wednesdays at five,” Gildehaus said.

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  • L

    Lindsey Broderick | Oct 24, 2023 at 6:46 pm

    Thanks, Madi! You did a great job on this article and really did the club justice!

  • W

    Wesley Anderson | Oct 24, 2023 at 2:12 pm

    For the most up to date information follow us on instagram @isuslacklineclub