It wasn’t until nine years after its first commercial appearance that the word ‘zorb’ formally entered the Oxford English Dictionary (in 2001), being defined as “a sport in which a participant is secured inside an inner capsule in a large, transparent ball which is then rolled along the ground or down hills”.
The idea itself was not novel, as hamster balls, as they were referred to, had been in existence since the 1970s and there had been one or two ‘dummy runs’ (excuse the pun) using a large sphere with a human inside. Even in the 1990s in what is now a cringe worthy show, Gladiators, they had their Atlaspheres, which were solid metal balls, but a minor step forward in the evolution of what today we call a zorb.
From the very first hamster balls to the ‘Atlasphere’, there were two principal problems, which basically held back the logical evolution of the zorb; these were the rigidity of the outer sphere which allowed for no impact absorption, and it was difficult to protect the occupant from injury. Though there is no note of it anywhere, we suspect that the word ‘zorb’ may have morphed from the word ‘absorption’ as it was this design advancement that achieved the much-needed breakthrough.
In 1994 two New Zealanders, Dwane van der Sluis and Andrew Akers produced the first zorb and, as they say the rest is history. Establishing that a non-rigid sphere could still be successfully rolled was part of the breakthrough, the second was the creation of a second ball within a ball, thus creating the much-needed impact absorber. From then on, the only thing that seemed to be holding back the development and use for the zorb was imagination, as the zorb began to appear across the globe (is that another pun?).
From rolling down gentle slopes to crossing the English Channel in a zorb, nothing seemed off limits, and while there is a limit to what man can endure physically, it seems that the brain doesn’t always engage accordingly. In October 2014 Reza Baluchi attempted to zorb between Florida and Bermuda.
He managed an impressive 70 nautical miles before having to be rescued by the coastguard, but the enormity of his folly only comes to light when you realise that the distance he needed to cover was 850 nautical miles. Not only did he run out of energy, but he could never have had sufficient supplies of water and protein bars to get him that far.
We will cover a selection of daring and bizarre zorbing events in a later article, but for now, here at Zorbing Hire UK we are more than happy to hire out zorbing balls for less crazy events, but ones which are still great fun and hugely exhilarating, like bubble football or zorbing football, London being one of the most popular locations for this emerging sport.
To find out more about what you can and can’t do with a body zorb, just give us a call here at Zorbing Hire UK, wherever you live, and we’ll be happy to advise.