Wingsuit flying & BASE Jumping
At a hurtling speed of well over 200 km/h Wingsuit flying and BASE jumping have irrupted into the extreme sports arena, quickly becoming the undisputed 21st Century champions of all things daredevil. BASE stands for Buildings, Antennas, Spans (bridges) and Earth (cliffs) – the four categories of fixed objects that BASE Jumpers can launch themselves off in a superhero-like fashion. BASE Jumpers are continuously exploring the limits of their sport and the latest trend is in ‘proximity flying’ where they enter free-fall wearing a modern “wingsuit”, with fabric between the arms and legs that allows them to glide through mountains like a bird before opening a parachute and landing. BASE Jumping is not open to everyone, it’s an extremely risky activity and can only be attempted if you have done a couple hundred successful lone skydives. Furthermore it fringes on the edge of legality, many jumping locations rendered inaccessible by trespassing laws. Despite the difficult access to the sport, the incredible video footage captured by these athletes has inspired many thrill-seekers to take the leap. Their YouTube content has racked up millions of views and BASE Jumpers present a massive opportunity for companies like Red Bull and GoPro to promote their products in a breathtaking way.
If you’ve been keeping up at all with sporting trends there’s almost no chance you haven’t heard of Crossfit yet. The brainchild of American Greg Glassman, Crossfit is a highly intense fitness regime that is measurable, observable and repeatable. The program works through assigning a “Workout Of the Day (WOD)” to participants, with the aim of focusing on different aspects of the body to gain a total functional workout. Crossfit has exploded in popularity over the past decade and has been described as more of a life philosophy than a fitness regime, inspiring a cult-like following by Crossfitters across the globe. Even sports giants have been trying to ride the wave of the Crossfit phenomenon, with Reebok coining it “fitness turned into a sport” and sponsoring the annual Crossfit Games, an event that is now broadcast to millions of viewers and whose aim is to find the Fittest Man on Earth. Reebok’s partnership has also extended to commercial gear, producing a 346-strong range of Crossfit footwear and apparel.
Freestyle scootering has become the activity of choice for thousands of young riders, elevating it from being the n°1 outdoor must-have toy for kids to a genuine and popular urban sport. Just like it’s beloved predecessor, the skateboard, the scooter has evolved into a sport and a way of life. It has opened up a fiercely competitive market with a number brands developing specialized gear to suit all levels and offering hefty sponsorship opportunities to the best riders. Scooter riding should also relay thanks to the digital revolution for it’s increase in popularity – the mostly young demographic it appeals to, the Millenial generation, take to social media to share photos and videos of tricks and maneuvers. Scooter competitions have popped up like mushrooms with the US and Australia leading the way and new riders debuting all the time. Scooter riders divide their time up between learning new tricks at the skate-park and perfecting them on the streets, with some even venturing into the still relatively unexplored territory of dirt riding on the rough terrains of BMX and Motocross.
Parkour / Free-Running
Parkour, or Free-Running, originated in France and was coined “l’art du déplacement” – the art of displacement. It consists of moving as efficiently and quickly as possible through obstacles, mostly in an urban setting, by running, jumping and performing acrobatic or martial arts like moves. Parkour is non competitive but is centralized on promoting values of collaboration and self-discipline. It’s athletes, known as “traceurs” have challenging mental aspects to overcome: conquering fear, improving spatial awareness and mastering deep focus. These aspects coupled with the intense physical demands of navigating the urban space make it a discipline that calls for optimal body performance and a sharp mind. Since no gear is required to start, Parkour is a widely accessible sport and lately has been the basis of pioneering programs that help improve the fitness and self-esteem of inner-city disadvantaged youths, by teaching them to transform their everyday surroundings into acrobatic playgrounds. Traceurs are always inventing new tricks and creative ways to navigate the unpredictable urban spaces, their spontaneity has gained them an enormous number of fans and supporters online, with the best videos gaining multiple millions of views.
Cycling has been around since the mid 19th century, with the turning point being the evolution of the classical “penny farthing” into the modern bicycle in 1890. Before the invention of motorized vehicles the practicality of the bicycle was integrated into all aspects of society, making it an efficient mode of transportation, necessary to cut travel time and deliver goods. Bicycle races have remained fiercely popular throughout time: the Tour de France has been an annual occurrence since 1903 and its top athletes enjoy a massive following and substantial sponsorship opportunities. In recent years there has definitely been a steep surge in popularity for urban cycling, some larger cities have seen up to a 200% increase in commuter cycling. This incredible boost in numbers is largely down to the world population’s growing awareness of environmental issues. People of all ages have taken to the saddle in a bid to cut carbon emissions and as a result are also reaping the benefits of regular physical exercise. Cycling, whilst being a low-impact activity, greatly improves overall fitness, cardiovascular health, muscle strength and flexibility and studies have shown that riding a bike also decreases stress levels and anxiety.