Hockern – Extreme Sitting!

I came across this video late last week, and wanted to share it here on the blog.  It depicts the sport/activity of Hockern, which apparently comes from Germany.  The hocker is basically a tube with a round plastic seat on each end.  You use it by flipping it around, throwing it in the air, etc, and most of the tricks seem to finish with sitting back down on one end of the hocker.  It’s sort of like a more static version of skateboarding – you can do flips and whatnot, but you don’t need to worry about the wheels or actually landing/balancing on the hocker most of the time. (Email subscribers can see the video by clicking on the title of this post).

I’m a bit conflicted about this.  On the one hand, I’ve always found these sorts of random tricks pretty cool – I did after all spend 10+ years as a professional juggler (I was actually invited to literally run away and join a circus during my MSc… there are days when that seems like a pretty good option!).  If I was a teenager I’d almost certainly have a hocker myself.  And while it looks easier than skateboarding, that’s not entirely a bad thing – it’s good to have options for people with different abilities, and to have a stepping stone that might entice someone who isn’t quite ready to jump into more intense activities head-first.

But on the other hand, it’s still odd that there is a new sport that is built around sitting.  Take this quote from the video:

…you can do a lot of tricks with it and sit down comfortably.

We do enough sitting in developed nations, so much in fact that it is having a substantial negative health impact.  The last thing that we need to do is come up with ways to make sitting more ubiquitous.  If anything, we need to have less chairs in our lives, so that sitting can be optional, rather than the default.  I realize I’m going a bit over the top, but when people (especially young people) think sitting is an extreme sport it suggests we need to re-evaluate things.

So am I being a cranky old fart (“back in my day we had to stand up whenever we wanted to do entertaining party tricks!”) or is Hockern the end of life as we know it?  I look forward to the comments :)

Hock ‘n Roll!


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13 Responses to Hockern – Extreme Sitting!

  1. Arya Sharma says:

    At least these guys are from my home town – Berlin rocks!

    • Travis says:

      You can’t honestly want to debate the relative awesomeness of Berlin and Fredericton. While Berlin’s inhabitants are trying to force sedentary behaviour on the world, The City of Stately Elms was ranked as one of Canada’s most walkable cities by the Westjet inflight magazine. It’s not even a competition!

  2. Pingback: Sitting as an Extreme Sport

  3. Jennifer Fitz says:

    I think the sitting element is really just two things:
    -Your hobby can double as a piece of furniture, which is handy in tiny little european apartments.
    -If you were my son, who is frequently made to stand at dinner because of the things he does with his chair, you would think, “finally, a chair I’m *supposed* to play in.”

    (Like, the time he got his foot stuck in the rungs of the chair up where his head was supposed to be. He had to stand after that. After I got his foot liberated, that is.)

    So on the contrary, I’d say it’s a chair that encourages you to frequently get up and fidget and move around. (Not: A sport that encourages you to sit). So healthier, if you are going to have to sit anyway, to have something that makes you get up and move more? Handy if you are stuck waiting for a bus for a long time, too.


    • Travis says:

      Thanks for that comment Jennifer, and for that anecdote that made me laugh out loud. Why was his foot up there in the first place??? :)

      I would be very curious to see what the data would look like if people were to wear an accelerometer (which measures both movement and sedentary time) while using a hocker. You make a good point that it might encourage more movement than a typical chair, but I also wonder if “hocking” might actually just be short bouts of activity, followed by long bouts of sitting and relaxing. When people are skateboarding they tend to do a couple of tricks and then to rest for a few minutes – but on a skateboard that rest is typically standing up. With a hocker my guess is that the rest would be spent sitting down.


  4. Dava says:

    I have to agree with Jen here. I think it takes a lot of agility and energy to “hock and roll” and not look lame. It gives me hope that the youngsters are still trying to find new ways to move around.

  5. Michael says:

    Dunno about the health implications, but I’m excited about the comedy implications. Can’t wait for the first batch of “Epic Hockern Fail” videos. That’s got to hurt when it goes wrong!

  6. The sitting element of the tricks is insignificant. I have to agree with the above commentors. I’m all for anything that gets kids up and moving around, even if they can use it to take a break in between tricks 😉

    Thanks for posting this video!

    • Travis says:

      I agree that the sitting parts of the tricks themselves are largely irrelevant. But I really am curious about how much time people would wind up simply sitting around between tricks, compared with other outdoor sports that don’t involve carrying around a stool.

      So the consensus then is that hockern is *not* the end of the world? :)

  7. Stephanie says:

    Ok, these things are just odd…they look like giant spools of thread. Travis, I doubt that people carry them around to sit on, they just don’t seem very “carry” friendly, but rather cumbersome to lug around. I also doubt it’ll be anything that makes its way to N.A. At least they’re better than those crazy electric skateboards with handals that you’re just meant to stand on….or are they…given that you’re at least standing and engaging auxilary muscles?? The debate continues…

  8. Jill says:

    I want to debate the relative awesomeness of Berlin though.
    I find it is a VERY walkable city.
    It also has the lowest number of cars per capita in Germany.
    Hockern is not exactly a mass phenomenon here…

  9. Hinca says:

    I see possibilities here. Maybe a hocker/bongo combo? 😉

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