On my twenty-first birthday last month, I almost broke up with my boyfriend of six years. I wasn’t asking for long-stemmed red roses and a box of Godiva chocolates, but an afternoon to be spent rolling down a hill in a plastic bubble was not my idea of a great gift. I couldn’t see why people would voluntarily pay money to feel like being trapped inside a washing machine. In my head, that’s exactly what zorbing meant.
Twenty-four hours later, I couldn’t think of a single reason why I wouldn’t recommend this to the world and its cousins, which is why I thought a list of what changed my mind might be handy for those of you who are still undecided. With any luck, I could even bring the anti-zorbers over to the… well, not-so-dark side.
1. Think of it as adults re-living some of their childhood playtime – you’re in a ball that is cushioned by another ball and rolling down a hill in abandon. It’s a surreal version of a rollercoaster ride, and it gives you the same high.
2. While sky diving and white-water rafting have been shelved for another lifetime, zorbing is a relatively quieter way to fuel my inner thrillseeker. Zorbs can reach speeds of up to 35mph, and that’s with you tumbling away in utter disorientation and no breaks.
3. It’s strangely liberating – arms flailing, body hurtling – and all the time being very aware that you’re still cocooned in some sort of weird comfort. The curved plastic walls can be very reassuring.
4. Most zorbing centres have a professionally trained crew at your beck and call. They are masters at reassuring you, making sure your harness is tight, and helping you out of the ball. Trust me, you need help for the latter – crawling out of the ball is a bit like travelling down a birthing canal and being born. I imagine…
5. For the few seconds that you’re in the plastic bubble, the horizon melts away and it’s a delicious, albeit shortlived, feeling of not knowing where the ground ends and the sky begins.
6. I’d recommend doing this on a relatively empty stomach. Stay away from the full English and pints especially, unless you want it all accompanying you in the bubble as you roll down.
7. I’m really looking forward to the next step – hydro zorbing, when I’ll be in the ball with a partner and some 20 litres of water (hot or cold depending on your preference). Sliding, splashing and memories of summers spent in inflatable pools here we come! Water Ball Walking (Youtube)
8. It gives me a great story to tell at parties – of course I leave out the details of how ridiculous I looked crawling into the ball and out of it. Or how I screamed the first few seconds but then dissolved into hysterical and uncontrollable laughter.
9. For those who look longingly at kids going crazy on a bouncy castle, fear not – the adult version is at hand and it’s a hundred times more fun.
10. Unfortunately, it’s quite addictive – I had to sheepishly admit so to my boyfriend that it would be great for Christmas gift ideas, anniversaries, birthdays, or maybe just to liven up the weekend!