November 30, 2023


Inspired by sport

Meet the Man Who Wants to Make Sitting an Extreme Sport

Daily life on Antarctica’s Cuverville Island can be severe. Colonies of orange-billed gentoo penguins scale its frequently windy, snow-lined slopes, creating nests for their younger with modest stones and pebbles they gather from the island’s rocky outcrops. Patches of moss and lichen improve sparingly, some of the handful of signs of flora on an if not barren land. But on a person working day in February, an unusually out-of-position sight appeared: a gentleman sitting in a chair.

“I’d by no means come throughout somebody wanting to bring a camping chair ashore in Antarctica in advance of,” states Jonathan Fuhrmann, a Scenic Eclipse cruise ship glaciologist whose job that working day was to aid travellers get to and from the island’s viewpoint. “At first it appeared so weird, but he’d brought it with him for the biosecurity check”—a procedure that assures whichever you’re bringing ashore won’t introduce international organisms or diseases—“so I assumed, ‘why not?’” Perched in a lightweight and foldable Helinox chair on a place that Fuhrmann had confident him was not interfering with the views of other company, the man stared out above Antarctic waters. “He even proceeded to examine a reserve for a while,” claims Fuhrmann, “which appeared comprehensively pleasurable.”

Flouting his own prohibition on digital devices while extreme sitting, Silk snaps a selfie as he sits in McDowell Mountain Regional Park in North Scottsdale, Arizona.
Flouting his possess prohibition on digital equipment whilst severe sitting down, Silk snaps a selfie as he sits in McDowell Mountain Regional Park in North Scottsdale, Arizona. Robert Silk

Robert “Robby” Silk, 49, was collaborating in the sport of competitive chair-sitting down, a even now-evolving endurance activity Silk has pioneered that will involve sitting in extreme environments, from sunlight-up to sundown devoid of any kind of time parts or digital products. “The thought,” says Silk, “is to truly just be, and not do significantly of something.” On June 21, 2020, Silk accomplished his longest sit to day: a 14-hour, 27-minute extend in California’s Joshua Tree Nationwide Park. Prior to Antarctica, this budding trend-setter had only sat himself in desert options, together with Sedona, Arizona, and the state’s McDowell Mountain Regional Park in North Scottsdale. (The Antarctic continent is the greatest desert on earth, but quite a few of its bordering islands are considered tundra.)

Though Silk’s endeavor is unconventional, sudden stamina athletics have been all-around for many years. Get the Dutch sport of paalzitten, or pole sitting down, in which members sit atop wooden poles for hours, every single just one attempting to outlast the other. It was supposedly invented to help stave off boredom all through prolonged wintertime months. Or danceathons, prolonged dance periods that can previous from several hours to weeks, with income prizes awarded to the last team standing.

Pole sitting, known as <em>paalzitten</em>, is a sport in the Netherlands. Here sitters compete in the 1971 world championship in Roelofarendsveen.
Pole sitting, known as paalzitten, is a sport in the Netherlands. Right here sitters contend in the 1971 earth championship in Roelofarendsveen. Punt / Anefo by means of Wikimedia Commons CC0

But in spite of the apparent notoriety that competitive chair-sitting provides (“It would be amusing to be in the Guinness Guide,” suggests Silk, “but I hadn’t seriously assumed about it.”), Silk claims he does it for numerous of the very same factors that people operate marathons: to take a break from every day trivia and routines and simply check himself. There’s even teaching concerned, considering that any person who’s at any time flown thousands of miles in an airplane is aware of that sitting down for long durations can wreak havoc on every thing from mental steadiness to actual physical dexterity. “I don’t do calisthenics beforehand for nothing,” he claims.

Whilst the “competition” section is a little bit tongue-in-cheek—Silk is, to date, the only competitor—the sport’s all round aim is to complete the most tricky sit achievable. For deserts, this usually implies a variable of superior temperature, total degrees of warmth (indicating the day’s normal temperature), and size of day. A challenging equation, considering the fact that the even further north you go for the duration of the summer months solstice the additional daylight you will get, but in general temperatures are inclined to lower. In a position like Antarctica, in which the emphasis is additional on “extreme” sitting, Silk jokingly states that icicles forming on the recommendations of your chair can be excellent. But frostbite? Not so substantially. “It’s meant to be unpleasant,” he states, “but not deadly.”

Silk very first came up with the plan of extraordinary chair sitting back again in 1995, for the duration of a 6-thirty day period sojourn in Israel. Silk was reading through The Haj, a novel by American writer Leon Uris. In it, he arrived throughout a scene that depicted a person someplace in the desert, awaiting a shipping. A traveler who comes about upon the gentleman and asks, “What will you do if it will take a week?”

“Wait,” says the guy.

Silk discovered a earth in which “time is of no consequence” pleasing. 5 decades afterwards, he made a decision to give his have waiting around-in-the-desert a go. His objective was to sit in 1 place and shell out the overall day observing the arch of the sun.

Regretably, his first foray into chair-sitting down was small-lived. Just a few-and-a-fifty percent several hours just after planting himself down in Arizona’s Sedona desert, Silk experienced now endured a bee sting and was suffering from significant bloating from copious quantities of cheese he’d eaten the night time prior to. By 9 a.m., he was as a result of.

Silk's longest sit to date came in June 2020, when he clocked 14 hours and 27 minutes in a chair in California’s Joshua Tree National Park.
Silk’s longest sit to date arrived in June 2020, when he clocked 14 hrs and 27 minutes in a chair in California’s Joshua Tree Countrywide Park. Peter Wick

Even now, around the upcoming two a long time, the concept of desert chair sitting down trapped with him, until finally in 2019, he determined to try again, this time in Joshua Tree National Park a year afterwards. Small did Silk know that it would be the absolute excellent activity for the period of social distancing.

Silk scouted a location in Joshua Tree that was fairly obtainable, nevertheless absent from any parking a lot or hiking trails, with plenty of immediate daylight and a 360-diploma watch. Then, dressed in a extensive-sleeved shirt with gentle SPF defense, long pants, hiking boots, and a broad-brimmed hat and shawl for his neck, he sat. In addition to his chair, his provisions provided beef jerky, chunks of contemporary watermelon, and power bars, and two gallons of water. He’d also packed a pair of publications, a journal, and a tube of SPF 50 sunscreen.

More than the subsequent fourteen-moreover-hrs, Silk did a great deal of almost nothing. He viewed quite a few massive beetles and a couple of lizards wandered past. He dozed off a time or two and stood sometimes to stretch and reduce himself. He also considered about random matters, like no matter if a thoroughbred definitely is a better athlete than a greyhound. But a lot more than nearly anything, he just sat. “Your surroundings subject,” claims Silk. “Because that is all that there actually is.”

Silk hopes to have a competitor when he sits in Chile’s Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on earth.
Silk hopes to have a competitor when he sits in Chile’s Atacama Desert, a single of the driest destinations on earth. Diego Delso / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.

Silk and his buddy, Peter Wick (who filmed Silk’s Joshua Tree stint), are now in the method of securing grants for a chair-sit in Chile’s Atacama Desert—one of the driest locations on earth—where they are hoping to convey alongside a competitor. “With the rigors of any physical endurance obstacle,” says Silk, “I believe intense sitting down has the means to rival other out of doors endurance sports, which includes climbing and even pole sitting down.”

For any one who’s imagining of engaging in this aggressive pastime, Silk’s assistance is to commence slowly but surely: maybe sitting for a several several hours or in weather that’s not way too warm or chilly, right before working towards more time, harder sits. But his most important tip is to continue to be mindful. “When you’re doing comprehensive-day sits,” claims Silk, “the sunlight, cold, or wind might begin acquiring to you. Just try to remember that this is an serious outdoor activity and working with bodily irritation is element of getting an endurance athlete.”