It’s no lie that 2016’s been vying hard for the title of worst year ever. It's going to take something really special to sway it from its course. Something like... Summer? What’s better than sunshine, heat, holidays, and the potential sight of beautiful human beings frolicking about in bikinis and speedos? (Ahem. Actually, scratch the speedo idea). What's better is all those things plus the mighty dose of adrenalin and glory you'll get from diving into one of these epic fringe sports:
The idyllic picture of summers past has to include a little kid hula-hooping, adults around the braai, with a table full of salads being eyed by a dog or two while, in the background, a few older kids throw around a Frisbee. Now take that pic, take all the foreground noise away, focus on the background kids, age them by a few years and add the intensity of competitive sports – the result is the fast-paced Ultimate Frisbee. Said to combine the best elements of soccer, rugby and basketball into one whirlwind of a game, your aim is to get the Frisbee across the field, passing it between teammates until one of you catches the disc in the opponents' endzone. Grab a Frisbee and meet your mates at a park to lose your bidginity and prepare for some impressively gnarly dives and record-breaking interceptions.
If you're keen on the intensity but minus all that running, then perhaps you should give longboarding a try. A decent board is worth the investment since it’s going to be supporting you as you go careening around at breakneck speeds – this is definitely not the right time to test the idiom: "Goedkoop koop, is duur koop!" Spend your weekends cruising around your part of the world feeling stoked, or challenge yourself with some downhill racing for the thrills.
This one you've seen in countless movie action sequences, and it's arguably the coolest way to get from one point to another without a vehicle of any sort: Parkour. It'll test your problem-solving abilities while challenging you to see your city space in a new way. Instead of ambling along pavements and crawling up stairs, athletes vault over hedges, climb walls like Spiderman on speed, slide down handrails, and jump from building to building like modern day superheroes. There’s no outlay (ka-ching!) since the sport prides itself on being practiced without equipment of any kind. Find parkour athletes in your area to train under and spend some time mastering the basic movements in the safety of neighbourhood parks before you try out those backward somersaults over stationery cars.
Or you could slow things right down, ditch the threat of injury, and hyper-sharpen your focus with some slacklining. Think tightrope walking, but with enough slack to bounce, as if you're on a skinny trampoline except with more sophistication and a whole heap of zen one-with-the-universe-ness. Tie your line between two trees and get walking just about anywhere - not only will you garner a bunch of attention and admiration, but the extra balance and core strength will give you the edge in other sports too.
...like standup paddleboarding if you're keen on sporting in the water, whether sea, river or lake. You can use it as an alternative to traditional surfing except with a paddle to navigate, or to leisurely explore flat waters from a new vantage point. If you're already the proud owner of a core of steel and super strong body, you can get into the competition side of the sport, by honing your sprint and distance skills. But for the average first timer, be warned: it looks easier than it really is – so be prepared to spend quite a bit of time awkwardly trying to get back on the board and stand up, all while holding onto your paddle.
So go ahead and try something new this summer, and make the rest of 2016 about pushing your body to its limits in these non-conventional sports.
Date Published: 27 October 2016