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HomeQ&ALeaps Of Faith - Extreme Sports With Adventurous Appeal

Leaps Of Faith – Extreme Sports With Adventurous Appeal

Extreme sports have traditionally been the preserve of only the maddest, baddest and most dangerous to know, and of course rebellious teenagers keen to worry their mums. However, as with any trend worth its salt, the history and variety of ‘extreme’ activities – also known as action, adventure or dangerous sports – are more interesting than many people realise, and there are well-established organisations which can help make delving into their adrenaline-pumping world almost as safe as any other hobby.

The phrase ‘extreme sports’ only came into use in the 1990s, probably thanks to the first television coverage of organised events like the X Games. Many enthusiasts actually dislike the term, arguing that most typical activities such as bungee jumping, hang gliding and ice climbing are not ‘sports’ in the sense of competing against others to win something, and the ‘extreme’ tag just smacks of mid-90s advertising hype.

Whatever you prefer to call it, extreme sports is a loose and ill-defined category which can include fairly mainstream pastimes like inline skating, BMX biking and snowboarding, (activities which can all involve elaborate spins, stunts and tricks) as well as more ‘out-there’ pursuits such as BASE jumping, freediving, zorbing, swooping, kite landboarding, volcano gliding, shark diving, octopus wrestling, nude parasailing, mafioso cuckolding (alright, that one’s not real).

Just as some of these fall out of fashion – for instance, octopus wrestling is now considered cruel – new sports and clubs are growing up all the time, although several are tongue-in-cheek parodies such as extreme wheelbarrow and the celebrated extreme ironing. Skateboarding and snowboarding, or ‘snurfing’ as it was originally called, have been popular since their inception in the 1950s and 60s, while kite surfing can trace its origins back to thirteenth-century China when kites were used, just like sails on boats, to harness the power of the wind and allow streamlined, one-man canoes to go much faster for practical reasons, not just fun!

With so much choice and interest in these previously niche activities, it’s unsurprising that an industry is springing up around extreme sports instruction and adventure holidays, where novices can learn the basics of a sport and then let loose their adventurous spirits in a supervised environment. These experiences could be the ideal gift for the ‘person who has everything’; don’t you know someone who’d rather spend their honeymoon in a cage in the Indian Ocean baiting great white sharks, than admiring their new toaster? Don’t we all?! How about bouncing down a hill in a three-metre, transparent PVC ball, with or without the optional water, and other people, inside it? It’s called zorbing, and it’s seriously taking off as the latest way to spend a fun weekend, from New Zealand to Bournemouth.

Bear in mind that some activities should not be attempted by absolute beginners; the BASE jumping academy will only admit ‘students’ who have completed 200 skydives, and swooping, or ‘extreme skydiving’, is similar. As long as you’re clued up about such regulations, got any necessary equipment, and perhaps made sure your life insurance is up to date, though, why not explore a new activity today – the sky really is the limit!

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