Hi There and welcome back.
On a week when I don’t seem to have made much forward progress on the diet – (and lets face it they sometimes happen), I thought I’d let you know about a surprising way of exercising that you may not be aware of and might like.
Remember back when you had a kite and mum and dad got you to run up and down to make it stay in the air?
Well this is kind of like that but a little more sophisticated. This blog and the next one talk about stunt and power kites and how they can help you lose weight.
Just to get one thing out the way for those with twitcher inclinations – we’re not talking about this handsome fella, or the squirrel he’s somewhat curious about:
You’re probably familiar with holiday kites – they cost about £5, have a distorted diamond shape, a set of strings on each edge and one long string that you fly it with, or more accurately that you stop it disappearing with.
To keep these aloft, you need a strong wind, or to keep walking/running with it. I remember that after about 20 minutes this loses its appeal.
This is a stunt kite. These are a little more sophisticated.
They cost from £60 and you can do tricks with these – turn them in circles in the sky, get them to fall towards the earth at a great rate of knots and then just before plummeting to the ground pick them up sharply and fire them off back in to the sky again, get them to stall and recover them, and walk dogs – they love chasing them.
They take a surprising amount of effort to hold, and the stronger the wind is, the more effort is needed. They also take a little while to set up. Simply put they have two strings connected one on each side of the kite, that are eventually used to control the kite in the air. That’s right – with this type of kite you are in control, not the kite as is usually the case with the one string type at the top of the page.
Ok, so back to setup. You have to walk out in to the centre of a large open area (hopefully not with traffic or aircraft landing – a park or the beach would be ideal (and safer).
Once there, you unpack the stunt kite, facing backwards and upside down, connect the strings (they’re actually very high tensile load dyneema these days not string but I won’t get into that) to the kite, and then you put a handy rock or can of coke or something on the kite and walk backwards into wind with the strings until they’re all wound out.
Then you expertly (ok not at first but if you take this up you’ll become expert quite quickly) tug on the lines and the kite will launch into the air, and you’ll be getting upper arm, back and quad exercise whilst pulling back on the kite, just like this fella here.
That is not the only way you’ve benefited. You had to walk out to the centre of the field and then walk the strings out – doesn’t sound like much but its walking exercise, and if like I did, you spend half your time walking back to the kite to get it ready to launch again, and then back out again to launch it, you’ll find yourself covering a lot of ground, and while the kites in the air having fun and relaxing too.
When you’ve had a few goes, you’ll find there’s something quite marvellous about using the power of nature to transform what was just canvas and poles in a bag, into something quite majestic in the air.
So, the basics are:
- Buy a stunt kite.
- Find a safe open area where kite flying is allowed (you’ll see notices if it isn’t).
- Wait for a reasonably windy, rain free day.
- Pop out in to the centre of the field with your kite.
- Assemble it, and put something on it so it won’t blow away (until you want it to).
- Walk out the lines.
- Tug on the lines and fly the kite.
There is a little more to it, but not enough to prevent you trying it out, and seeing if you like it.
Please don’t try to fly a kite in weather that looks like it might turn stormy – apart from the risk of getting soaked, its pretty dangerous (kites are earthed lightning conductors in bad weather).
Also if there’s horses about drop your kite – kites spook horses because of their similarity (as far as the horse is determined) to birds of prey.
If you’re not too sure about trying this out on your own, or just want to see how its done first, there are kite flying organisations which hold regular events and will no doubt warmly welcome you along.
Next time, part two covers kites which will really give you a workout, e.g.
These have four lines not two, cost from £150, will easily pick you and a board up, happily tow a buggy with you steering at 40 mph, and can do all the tricks of the stunt kite and more. If you’re using them properly they need safety gear. (Ironically this flyer isn’t using a helmet or armoured jacket – I don’t fly my power kite without them).
Holding one of these things where you want it isn’t easy and uses a lot of calories which is a big plus when you’re dieting and want to have fun.
Hopefully this has whetted your appetite to find out more, and at least try a stunt kite out.
For those who are suppressing yawns and prefer feathered kites, I’m sure you’ll appreciate this fella who would find all this string and canvas very amateur hour, and I wouldn’t blame him:
For a fleeting moment, a few years ago a kite I was flying attracted a bird of prey. He nobly shared what was probably 20 seconds formating with my kite and then departed for tea. Not something as a kite flyer you forget easily.
Thank you for reading and catch you next time.
All the best. Ian.