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The Slacker of Prospect Park

On the first day of spring, Patch found two kids slacklining in the park.

“I slack everyday.”

That's not to say Will Raphaelson takes it easy. The 20-year-old college student and Park Slope native spends his free time doing something quite difficult—balancing on a two-inch wide nylon web in .

A “slacker” is someone who practices slacklining. “Slacking” is an activity that is usually done on a thin, but strong line of nylon webbing and is usually anchored between two trees.

Slacklining is different than tightrope walking, mainly because slacklining is done on a flat, slack line, in terms of tension, instead of a taut rope. A slackline is usually made out of nylon webbing that gives under weight, but tension can be adjusted to your preference and depending on what kind of exercises (more advanced slackers even do yoga on the line, or YogaSlacking) or tricks you want to do.

“It’s an easy exercise to improve balance and strength in a fun way,” Raphaelson said, who is a sophomore at SUNY New Paltz studying education and is home for spring break. “Slacklining works a lot of muscles, like obliques, abductors and adductors, and even more little ones that you never knew existed and never use.”

In the late 1970s, Adam Grosowski and Jeff Ellington, two rock climbers, went back to their camp after a long day of climbing mountains in Yosemite National Park in California and started walking across parking lot chains, railings and ropes strung between trees for fun.

The hobby, which was great for core strength and balance, quickly became popular between rock climbers in Yosemite. Grosowski and Ellington started to walk on one-inch nylon climbing webbing and soon the practice spread throughout the country.

Raphaelson is a rock climber and can usually be found on the weekends in the Shawangunk Mountains in Upstate New York near New Paltz, or what he calls, “The Gunks.” Raphaelson started slacklining one month ago after one of his rock climbing buddies, who is a friend from college, introduced the sport to him.

He said he has seen a vast improvement in his balance and agility since he started slacking everyday. On Tuesday, which was the first day of spring, he went to Prospect Park with his long-time friend Michail Eggelhoefer, who is a 17-year-old high school student at a boarding school in Vermont.

“Prospect Park is beautiful, I come here every time I am home,” said Raphaelson, who lives on Berkeley Pl. “I have been coming here since I was zero.” 

The duo were taking turns walking across the line, bouncing, balancing and turning around to walk back on the 20-foot line, which is a lot like a narrow and thin trampoline, and was about a foot-and-a-half off the ground.

But exercise, improving strength and getting more confidence to climb up mountains, cliffs and bluffs are not the only reason he sets up a line in Brooklyn’s 585-acre park.

“It’s also the best way to meet girls,” Raphaelson said, explaining that he recently landed a date with an attractive gal.

“She came up to me and asked what I was doing,” the 20-year-old said with a bashful smile on his face. “She tried it and after a while I asked her if she wanted to hang out later—and we did.”

Patti March 22, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Sounds better than bar hopping!
Sara March 22, 2012 at 05:53 PM
This is really neat

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