IT’S a damp, chilly morning in Poole Park. There’s nobody playing cricket, flinging a Frisbee or rollerblading around the open space.

In fact, there’s nothing of anything happening. Then I notice a bright orange line tied between two trees with what appears to be a tightrope walker.

Meet Russ Holbert, he’s one of the first local participants in a new sport called slacklining.

Similar to tightrope walking, slacklining grew from climbers balancing on chains around car parks in California in the late 1970s.

They soon began rigging up webbing to walk on and the sport of slacklining was born.

Compared to other urban sports, slacklining has been a bit of a slow-burner when it comes to popularity. But all that could be about to change.

“As skateboarders and surfers, my friends and I started slacklining as a fun way to improve our balance, very quickly it has become a part of our lifestyle.

“We can just pull up to a spot, set the line up between two trees and get a session going – in a park, on the beach, over water, the possibilities are endless,” says Russ.

To meet the growing demands of slacklining, Russ helped set up the company Maverick Slacklines that sells slacklining equipment around the world. They also run a weekly Maverick Slackline Club at Ashdown Lesiure Centre and put on demonstrations at local schools and music festivals.

Although the weather conditions weren’t perfect, Russ kindly offered to show me the ropes. The equipment is fairly basic and within seconds is easily set-up.

The slackline itself can be safely attached to anchor points such as trees, lampposts and can take a maximum load of four tonnes. The nature of the webbing and its tension means that it is stretchy and bouncy, like a trampoline.

“The basic principles are to balance on a line, and do it as long and in as many different ways as you can. It normally takes 10 hours to learn how to balance and walk along the line unassisted.”

With a steadying hand I managed to wobble my way along the line, but it was far harder than I had expected.

It wasn’t long before my legs and shoulders started to burn and my whole body started to shake with the tension pushing through it, generated by the stretch in the line.

This was perfectly normal for beginners, Russ reassured me.

Despite the initial hardship, it quickly became addictive to see how long you could stay on the line without falling off.

That’s the great thing about slacklining, it’s a simple idea that’s a lot of fun.

“There are many different genres of slacklining, but a key variable is line length,” says Russ. “While short lines are used for tricks similar to those in trampolining, breakdancing, and yoga, long lines are more of an endurance sport.”

There are also health benefits to be had from balancing on a line, which include improved balance, strength, co-ordination and flexibility.

Although I couldn’t sit down for a week.