Hi, my name is Jake Curbelo, I’m 27 years old, I am a flight attendant, and a fun fact about me is usually slack lining but for this interview I will say it's that I am studying to be a commercial pilot!
How did it feel to step onto the line for the very first time?
Well, the first time I got on a slackline I jumped on it. And then I flew right off. Right away I knew that I could use it as a type of trampoline, even before I started watching all of these amazing trick liners like Alex Mason & Abraham Hernandez sending back flips and aerials over the line. It felt amazing. I was instantly addicted, I probably spent like 3 hours on the beach that day just taking turns with friends and trying to get to the end of the line. Every time I went to the beach that summer I was hoping my friend would be bringing it out. Eventually, I was gifted one and from then on it was pretty hard to get me off of it. That was almost 10 years ago now and the sport has grown tremendously.
Could you share some beginner-friendly tips or tricks that helped you progress in your slacklining journey?
The Finger Twiddle!! When I was first starting out that was one little tip that was suggested to me and I think it helped me a lot, moving the index and middle fingers back and forth while on the line. It helped me focus on the walking and not get distracted by everything else going on around me. Plus it’s super fun to scream twiddle your fingers at people while they’re slack lining.
Another tip that was given to me in the very beginning was to pretend that you’re holding a big yoga ball in front of you, right around the middle. If one hand goes up, the other one goes down and vice versa. After that I learned a lot more practical way of keeping my focus: Starring at the tree in front of me right where the tree meets the slackline, or just a few meters ahead and focusing only on the line.
Pranayama helped me a lot too, using different breathing techniques. Deep, loud breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth, a tight core and a slight bend in the knees. Having strong arms, not the muscles necessarily but using them and flexing them, but allowing your wrist and fingers to be flowing.
Are there specific mental exercises or mindfulness techniques you use to enhance your focus and balance while slacklining?
When I get on a slackline everything else I’m thinking about usually fades away and all I think about is walking the line. If my mind ever does start to wander, I usually just return to my breath. I really like the box breathing technique which is a 5 second inhale, a 5 second hold, a 5 second exhale and then another 5 second hold. And repeat until my heart rate slows and my focus returns to the line.