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Published: May 26, 2022
Let's be honest, tandem skydiving can be nerve-wracking, especially the first time. You're not only fully trusting in someone you've never even met before, but you're also trusting yourself, and that's a pretty big mental feat. Skydiving is more mental than physical in many ways.
What is tandem skydiving?
Tandem skydiving is a form of skydiving where one jumper (the student) is secured to the front of the second jumper (the instructor). Essentially, it allows people who have zero experience in the sport to skydive, which is pretty cool.
Tandem skydiving allows people to experience the freedom of flight without having to worry about the logistical stuff, like double checking and correctly using all of the gear, spotting the landing area, flying the canopy, and having emergency procedures top of mind. Your tandem instructor may be laughing and joking with you, but they're extremely experienced and credentialed. Tandem instructors have a USPA D License, which means they have passed multiple tests, made a minimum of 500 skydives, and have at least 3 cumulative hours in freefall. So don't spend any time worrying whether or not they know what they're doing - they absolutely do!
Is tandem skydiving physically demanding?
Tandem skydiving is physically demanding ... but only to an extent. You don't need to be in tip-top shape to successfully complete a tandem skydive, but you do need to be somewhat flexible and have some degree of core strength. The physical fitness requirements for skydiving are:
Our weight requirement for skydiving is 225lbs for proportional height to weight jumpers, please contact us with any questions about weight.
Some level of flexibility is critical for crouching and ducking to board the plane, being on your knees before exit, and arching during freefall. Fun fact: this belly-to-earth position (the arch) is the first one learned when you skydive solo - making a tandem jump great practice if you see more skydiving in your future!
Core strength is required for the landing portion of the jump. As you prepare to touch down, your instructor will ask you to "lift your legs" or say "knees to chest," which means holding your legs up for 15 seconds - this is to avoid a faceplant upon landing!
So, do you have to be physically fit to skydive? To a degree, yes, but it isn't as important as cognitive fitness.
Is tandem skydiving more of a mental game?
Well ... yes! Skydiving is in many ways more mental than physical. Your brain instinctively goes into a fight or flight response when you experience fear. If you have fear at the door of the plane before jumping (which is totally normal), and then you force yourself to jump despite your brain saying "NOOOOOOO!!!", you are intentionally knocking down a natural mental barrier, which is supremely empowering.
Can you skydive with anxiety?
YES. Something that frequently surprises non-skydivers, is that the sport actually relieves anxiety for many jumpers. In fact, jumpers are known to jokingly say, "I jump because it's cheaper than therapy."
People who experience anxiety tend to try and focus on 100 things at once, whether purposefully or subconsciously, and get bogged down with overwhelm. But when skydiving, you're focused 110% on the jump. And this can be broken down even more: during freefall you can't focus on the landing, or you could mess up the freefall; when you deploy your parachute you can't think about your exit from the plane, or you could be distracted from deployment procedures and canopy flight.
People who have never experienced the freedom of a jump assume that anxiety is created rather than mitigated by skydiving. It's like magic in your brain! All of your outside thoughts stop, your day-to-day worries fade away, and you are completely absorbed in the moment. It is an incredible and truly indescribable feeling. Pure freedom.
Is skydiving for the first time anxiety normal?
Skydiving anxiety is most definitely normal - and whether you know it or not, you have the ability to overcome it - and we're here to help you through it! We expect everyone to be a little nervous for their first (or even 100th) jump! Nervousness can be healthy and mean that you're aware of the situation and ready to react to any scenario.
Effects of skydiving on the brain
The biggest effect of skydiving on the brain is an entire change of perspective. Seeing the world from above will make all of your problems on the ground seem much smaller, literally.
The after-effects of skydiving linger long after the jump is completed. While doing something exciting and enjoyable, our brains release lovely chemicals, including dopamine, adrenaline, serotonin, and endorphins. Dopamine allows us to fully experience something, and serotonin lets us feel uninterrupted happiness. Endorphins result in comfort. Combine these feel-good ingredients with adrenaline and an unrivaled sense of achievement, empowerment and reclamation is the result. And this is the feeling experienced on every. single. jump.
So, is skydiving actually good for your mental health? We say a resounding, yes! The act of skydiving gives you a jolt of energy that you can use to address the challenges thrown your way in everyday life. Along with the personal growth that comes with skydiving is the skydiving community. We are an international tribe of many cultures, beliefs, and backgrounds, and we are all passionate about one thing: being in the sky. What are you waiting for!? Let's fly!
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