There’s nothing quite like the feeling of a freshly pressed shirt. Unfortunately, ironing can be an arduous process, especially for a student. But for those who fancy exercising more than just their ironing arm, however, there’s always Extreme Ironing.
Extreme Ironing is the self proclaimed ‘latest danger sport, that combines the thrills of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well pressed shirt.’
Extreme Ironing involves performing extreme sports, such as sky diving, wakeboarding, even standing on top of a car whilst driving along the M1, then whipping out your ironing board and pressing an allotted amount of clothes.
The sport was started in Leicestershire by house husband Phil Shaw who, after a long day of chores, was left with an ultimatum – finish his last bit of housework, the ironing, or go enjoy his favourite pastime of rock climbing. He decided to combine the two, and the rest is history. Phil, affectionately known as ‘Steam’ on the Extreme Ironing circuit, embarked on a worldwide tour in 1999, which saw countries like the USA and New Zealand embrace the sport. Soon came the creation of the Extreme Ironing Bureau, the international governing body for the sport.
The poster-boy for Extreme Ironing in the UK is Paul Roberts, who recently finished 364th out of a field of 900 Ironers who undertook the grueling challenge of the Marathon des Sables. The marathon involves a 155-mile journey across the Saharan Desert, and Roberts decided to do it while carrying his ironing board on his back, alongside his water, tent and sun cream.
Although the term ‘sport’ is only very loosely applied to Extreme Ironing, its influence is undeniable. The very concept of daily chores has inspired a breakaway group from the Extreme Ironing Bureau named Urban Housework. The group is currently pioneering an extreme sport based around vacuum cleaning, as well as Extreme Cello Playing, a sport with a similar concept except that one plays a Cello instead of pressing their briefs.
Phil Shaw’s humble sport now holds an annual world championship and despite being retired, ‘Steam’ made a testimonial appearance at the 2012 Hastings half-marathon with his board on his back, pressing garments along the way.