What’s extreme ironing?

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Extreme ironing involves ironing clothing outdoors in unusual locations, combining the thrill of outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well-ironed shirt. While it is a real activity, there is debate over whether it can be classified as a sport. Extreme ironing originated in England and has become popular in Germany and other places. The rules for extreme ironing are inconsistent, but generally require a real iron and ironing board used outdoors. It is considered an extreme sport, although opinions on what constitutes an extreme sport vary.

What is extreme ironing?

As the name suggests, extreme ironing involves ironing clothing outdoors in a bizarre, remote, or unusual location. The Extreme Ironing Bureau states that the sport “combines the thrill of extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well-ironed shirt.”
Is extreme ironing real?
While EI is a real activity with enthusiastic participants, there is some debate as to whether it can truly be classified as a sport. Many sources suggest that EI athletes and fans view it as a good-natured joke or performance rather than actual sport. The EIB’s official Facebook page appears to function as an online community for hobbyists and fans rather than a traditional regulatory organization like most sports have.

There was an official competition that took place in Germany in 2002: the first Extreme Ironing World Championships. A British group won the team event and a German with the nickname “Hot Pants” won the individual competition. There is no information about a subsequent event.

Curiosity about extreme ironing
Some examples of this sport include stretching while skydiving, mountain climbing, canoeing, snowboarding or surfing.
Enthusiasts have created their own branches of extreme ironing, such as bungee ironing and underwater ironing.
Some EI participants call themselves extreme ironists or extreme ironists.
In 2003, British climbers John Roberts, Christopher Allan Jowsey and Ben
Gibbons worked together to iron a Union Jack flag at Everest Base Camp.
According to the 2003 documentary Extreme Ironing: Pressing for Victory, there is (or was at the time) a rivalry between the EIB and the Urban Housework group, who were trying to popularize their own sport, extreme vacuuming.

Who started extreme ironing?

It is not entirely clear who can be credited with the invention of extreme ironing. Many sources say that Phil Shaw, an Englishman, started it in 1997. According to the story, Phil was tired after his long day at a knitwear factory and came home with a pile of unironed laundry. In an effort to combine what he really wanted to do (go rock climbing) with what he had to do, Phil took the ironing board out into the garden and ironed his clothes outside. Shortly thereafter, he and his roommate, Paul Cartwright, completed several ironing adventures while rock climbing, skiing, and tree climbing. In 1999, Phil adopted the nickname “Steam” and went on an international tour to promote his sport.

However, there is an alternative version of the genesis of extreme ironing, which credits Tony Hiam with inventing it in England in 1980. In this account, Tony got the idea after watching his brother-in-law iron his clothes while camping in a tent . Tony felt that trying to keep clothes ironed while participating in outdoor activities was futile, and he expressed this view by intentionally performing ironing demonstrations in bizarre locations, such as airport terminals, phone booths, and mountaintops. Sources say Tony carried an ironing board in his car for the better part of a decade, so he was ready to iron whenever the opportunity presented itself.

What are the rules of extreme ironing?
The regulations for extreme ironing are inconsistent between EI sites. According to one source, the ironing board must have legs and be 30 centimeters wide by 1 meter long. An ironist must use a real iron and the activity must be done outdoors.

Another source does not specify the dimensions of the ironing board but says it must be a commercially available model. This set of rules indicates that the iron must also be a standard product. The iron can be heated by a gas burner or similar device when standard electric heating is not available.
Where is extreme ironing popular?
Although EI originated in England, it has become popular in many other places, especially in Germany. Notable extreme ironists come from South Africa, England, Germany and the Netherlands.
What is classified as an extreme sport?
Encyclopaedia Britannica states that extreme sports usually take place outdoors and are characterized by high speeds and high risk. However, it seems that not everyone agrees on which activities count as extreme sports. Nowadays, the term is also used to describe unconventional or weird sports, even those that aren’t inherently high-risk.

Whether it should be classified as a sport (extreme or not), extreme ironing is definitely an intriguing activity. The next time you’re faced with a pile of wrinkled clothes, consider taking your ironing to the extreme, even if it’s just carrying an iron and board out to the yard.

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