“What on earth are those people doing?” I wondered to myself.

The first time I saw people slacklining was when I was in Ottawa, Canada. I was at a park and there were these people who looked like they were doing acrobatic stunts, walking along a sort of rope with both ends tied to trees. As I was in a hurry, I did not take a closer look.

The second time I came across people slacklining was closer to home at Bukit Kiara Park in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur. It looked pretty cool and curiosity got the better of me, so I went closer to check it out.

What exactly is slacklining? It looks similar and yet is different to what acrobats in a circus do, that is: tightrope walking. However, while tightrope walking is on a rope that is, well, tight (as in rigidly taut), slacklining is the opposite.

Here, the line is held more loosely between two anchor points (like trees in a park). And it stretches as the slackliner walks on (or bounces along!) it. Think of it as an extremely long and narrow trampoline!

The line is also flat like a tape. The tension of the line can be adjusted to suit the walker and different types of nylon webbing can be used for a variety of “tricks”.

From beginners who wobble along the stretchy tape to experts who can perform chest bounces, somersaults, splits and other amazing tricks, slacklining, or “tricklining” (to the experts) is becoming increasingly popular.

If slacklining close to the ground is not adventurous enough for you, take it up a notch and try the more extreme highlining. Photo: AFP/Philippe Desmazes

If slacklining close to the ground is not adventurous enough for you, take it up a notch and try the more extreme highlining. Photo: AFP/Philippe Desmazes

As a sport, it’s good for an overall workout because it involves all parts of the body, from the core muscles to calves, quadriceps and back muscles. And of course, just like dancing or gymnastics, it develops your sense of balance and improves your posture and strengthens your core muscles.

And if slacklining or tricklining close to the ground is not adventurous enough for you, take it up a notch after you’ve gained enough experience, and try highlining. This is when lines are strung across precariously high canyons, gorges or even buildings. Harnesses can be used for safety, but it still takes a lot of guts nevertheless.