How to start exercising, Learning Power Kiting, Losing Weight, Power Kiting

And again with the wind

Hi and welcome back.

Last week I introduced the idea that you could lose weight and have fun at the same time (no not that) by flying stunt kites, and there was a promise at the end to show you something that took more energy still.

You can expect a stunt kite to become much more challenging to fly when it reaches its performance threshold in gusty weather.  It will then react very sharply to every manoeuvre that you try to do and there’s a good chance that one of the lines will snap which then heralds a very rapid crash.

Strong winds are therefore to be avoided.  Not so with their larger cousins which are called power kites, e.g.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

These are as you can here, generally much larger and are effectively like curved wings.  As they are struck by wind, they produce a power coefficient which lifts them perpendicularly.  Kite surfers channel this energy by directing it with their boards.

This guy’s out of the ocean and just hanging on.  If you are connected on the other end, they pull you, as demonstrated in this picture.

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Notice how much he’s leaning back?  That takes energy and that’s just moderate wind he’s in.  The first time I flew one of these I was amazed at the energy it produced, and it needed a lot of effort to prevent it pulling me along.

These kites are so powerful that they’ll lift you into the air (which unsurprisingly is called an “air”:

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On land, the power kites energy can be used to pull buggies and land boards

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Now all this looks very adventurous (ok last guy doesn’t look like he’s barreling along I admit), but you can just stand in a field (like the one we discussed before) and fly them without going anywhere – although the kite will have different ideas about this!

The calorie use is half from rigging and derigging and half from just holding on to the kite.  Much the same as the stunt kite in the last article, you have to put the kite down and then walk the lines out behind it until they’re all unraveled to their maximum length.  The difference is that the lines are longer, this time there’s four of them and while you’re walking them out you’ll become convinced that sometime between you connecting the lines to the kite and starting to walk back, a tiger jumped inside the kite and started doing gymnastics – ok its just the kite reacting very easily to the wind but it doesn’t feel like that at the time, so its a very good idea to have good weights to hold it down with.

Notice again what you’re doing – lots of walking, and using energy.

This is what a 5 metre kite looks like up close:

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Finally you’ve walked the lines out.  You then stake them into the ground, and carefully walk back to the kite and release the weights you left on it.  Wait a minute you say, isn’t the kite going to try to take off while you’re doing this? It would were it not for the reason for the four lines.  Two lines connect to the top of the kite, and two to the bottom.  These all connect to two handles, one for the left side of the kite with top and bottom, and the same for the right hand side.  When you’re flying the kite you pivot the handles to accelerate or decelerate the kite.  The more the top of the kite is pulled towards you the faster it will go and conversely, the more the bottom of the kite is pulled towards you, the more it stalls.  To prevent the kite flying away, you position your handles before you take the weights off, so that they put the kite or wing (which is more what it looks like) in the stalled condition.

Okay, now you’ve removed the weights, and are back holding the handles (probably 150 to 200 feet away).  You then pivot the top of the handles towards you and with a reasonable wind, the kite will launch straight into the air at high speed – until you get used to how to control the stall it will just shoot straight up and you’ll be pulled instantly by it.  You have to firstly, hold on and then brace backwards.  Do this for a few seconds, let alone minutes and you’ll see why kiting takes a lot of energy.

When you start, you just line up the kite so the winds directly behind you, but when its a strong wind day you set the lines up so that the wind is off to one side.  This helps you to avoid the rocketship takeoff because without the wing facing directly into wind, it develops less power.  You can then steer it into the best wind.

Once you’ve mastered takeoff and just holding the kite in the air, you can start to do stunts with it.  The difference between stunting with a power kite and a stunt kite is the power that power kites develop when you’re maneuvering  them.  Turn the handles sharply enough and you’ll induce a corkscrew.  This generates energy which you have to keep from pulling you along the ground and out of the field you’re standing in, otherwise you’ll be through hedges and all sorts.

If you fancy trying power kites, I’d strongly recommend that you join or visit local club beforehand.  Firstly so they can assist you with your first flights, and secondly if they have a kite you can borrow, it’ll save you the expense of buying a kite  for £150 to £200 and then finding out its not for you.

Safety

If you buy a power kite and aren’t devoted to only using it on the sea, get a helmet – I guarantee you’ll take a tumble and its better to look a bit odd with a helmet on than wearing a neck brace in hospital because you didn’t think it was needed.

Roller skaters often wear joint armour which fixes by elastic.  they do this to prevent elbow and knee damage.  If you’ve already got this kit wear it and if not seriously think about buying it.  You’ll understand why once you’ve been pulled by a kite.

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Probably before both of these I’d say by some safety cords – (these aren’t dungarees for extremely careful people).  These cords connect to your wrists and to the bottom of each of the handles.  If a powerful gust hits your kite it can catch you off guard and start pulling you alarmingly fast.  Without safety cords you’re at the mercy of the kite and whatever juxtaposition the handles are in.  With the cords its simple – you just let go of the handles.   Each handle is connected at the bottom to the cords connected to your wrists and the result is the brakes are applied as the kite has no option but to stall.  If you buy nothing else with regard safety gear but your helmet, buy the cords – they may save being dragged across a fence or through bushes or worse across a road.

I guess the difficult thing with this is assessing how many calories you’ve used.  To at least get the walking part of it, you could use a pedometer.  Map my walk isn’t so reliable here because it adds calories as you stand still and it’ll give you a false reading.  If you’re moving the effect isn’t as pronounced.   Any questions, please leave a comment and if you’ve liked this, please like or follow.  Tata for now and keep

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Losing Weight, Power Kiting, Stunt Kites

Gone with the Wind

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:

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unsplash-logoDavid Morris

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

In the UK: The Kite Society of Britain
In the USA: American KiteFliers Association

Next time, part two covers kites which will really give you a workout, e.g.

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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:

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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.

If you’ve found this article interesting please click Like or Follow, and this will be seen by more people.  The lead image is from Enrapture Media on Unsplash .

Thank you for reading and catch you next time.

All the best.  Ian.

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