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Mel Bowe: Professional Trickliner and BKB Slackline Instructor

I first discovered slacklining while I was a senior at Brown University. I had recently left Brown’s gymnastics team, and was in search of a new passion. One day on the Main Green, I saw a classmate balancing on a piece of webbing and I was intrigued.

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Who are ya?

My name is Mel, and I am a trickliner and a slackline instructor. I have been slacklining for 4 years, and competed in tricklining professionally for 2. Aside from slacklining, I am passionate about medicine, and will be attending Physician Assistant school in May 2015.

How did you first discover slacklining?

I first discovered slacklining while I was a senior at Brown University. I had recently left Brown’s gymnastics team, and was in search of a new passion. One day on the Main Green, I saw a classmate balancing on a piece of webbing and I was intrigued. After a few frustrating attempts, I was hooked. I became addicted to slacklining because of the focus and determination required to stay on the line, and the courage it takes to attempt a new trick. I became a regular attendant at slackline club meetings, and helped to shape the group into a true installation on campus. As new members joined the club, I discovered my love for sharing this sport with others, and have been teaching ever since.

Do you think climbing and slacklining complement one other?

Yes! Slacklining is an incredible workout that enhances a person’s balance, core strength and mental focus. It is used as a cross training activity for many sports, including climbing, skiing, and surfing to name a few. Slacklining was invented by Yosemite climbers in the 1970s, and these two sports continue to be closely linked. Climbing requires a similar amount of focus, commitment and type of strength as slacklining, thus making slackline a great tool for improving your climbing.

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What do you like most about slacklining?

One of the things I love most about slacklining is the amazing community surrounding the sport. The slackline community is a relatively small tight knit group, yet it is so welcoming to new members. Everyone is supportive of each other and there is a lot of camaraderie between the athletes, even during competitions.

How many styles of slacklining are there, and which is your favorite?

There are three main styles of slacklining: trickline, longline, and highline. I primarily do tricklining, which involves jumping and performing various tricks on the slackline. Trickline is rapidly progressing and has become a competitive sport. Longlining consists of balancing and walking on lines that are over 100ft long. The longer the line, the more unpredictable and unstable the line becomes, and it requires a tremendous amount of focus to walk the line. Highlining, is slacklining done high up over gorges or canyons, and generally requires slackers to wear a harness in case of a fall. This slackline form demands mental strength to overcome our instinctual fear of heights and exposure.

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What’s the trick to finding your balance?

There are a few basic tips: Keep your arms up, eyes fixed on the anchor point of the slackline, and position your feet straight on the line. After that, it’s just getting on and falling off a million times before you get the hang of it.

Why should people slackline? How can they get into it?

Everyone should try slacklining because it is a blast, and will likely complement the other sports that they do. No one is good at slacklining the first time they try it, so there’s no need to be embarrassed or self-conscious. It’s important to realize that you are not the only person who struggles, and it just takes some time and dedication to learn. Slackline is a great way to develop core strength and balance and can be fun for everyone, if they are willing to try. A great way to start slacklining is to enroll in a beginner slackline class, like our Slackline Series at BKB!