There are varying levels of competitiveness between people when it comes to suspension; how much you know, how many hooks you can take, how well you can hang, how much you can pull. Of course, there are also those like Nick Whipple who are in competition with no one but themselves as they push their bodies further and further with this art. It is typically the people who aren’t focused on who they can outdo or one up that manage to accomplish some of the most amazing feats. Recently, Nick was able to reach his goal of remaining suspended for 24 hours, and it is a suspension that has been in the works for quite some time now. Nick was nice enough to take some time for an interview to tell us about his experience with the suspension and his plans for where he wants to take suspending from here.
Hook Life: So to get started, I want to say I remember you mentioning something about a much longer suspension back when you did your 7 hour suspension. When did you decide you wanted to try for 24 hours? Or was there never a goal other than to suspend for as long as you wanted and see what happened?
Nick: Well, when we did the 7 hour, it was actually set to be a 12 hour. Unfortunately we started about 7 hours late due to video editing complications, and we ended up stopping at 7 because my team was way too tired after all of the other suspensions to continue. I decided I would go for 24 at the end of the 7 hour. The only difficult part on the 7 hour were the cut-aways. I cut my arms free 1 hour in, then my legs and lower back at 6 hours, then to the floor at 7 hours. I remember saying to Luke and Andrew, “The only rough part was the cut downs, if I would have stayed on 10 hooks I could have gone for way longer”.
We had a failed attempt at the 24 last June, and I decided to take a year off to train and review over everything that went wrong so that we could get it right. So, yes, 24 hours was a set goal. I figured if I could go that long, I could go as long as I wanted as long as my skin would allow me to do so.
HL: What did you learn from the first attempt last June or what did you change to make this time successful?
Nick: Well, last time we had planned to use 8 6g Dissected Art Gilson Hooks, 4 in my chest and 4 in my back. I was going to rock side to side for 4 hours, then the plan was to do transitions from chest to back to regain some circulation, then center back up and begin rocking again for another 4 hours. I also had no sleep, and was planning on trying to sleep in the air. This time I was fully rested, we used 18 hooks instead of 8, and decided to stack them down my back and legs, and put a row of 4 across my lower back. We used 14 Dissected Art 8g Gilson Hooks and 4 Blacksheep for my lower back. We figured that with 10 or less pounds on each hook I could go the distance without any tissue damage. Well, the original plan was for 20 hooks, but we changed it last minute. I also would say I trained about twice as hard for this round than I did last time.
If you want to get technical, the original plan also had a backup fail safe in case my neck got tired. That was to shave the back of my head and add a 21st hook for neck & head support! But I was able to make it without that one too.
HL: Although a mid-suspension head shaving and piercing would have been funny, I have a feeling it might have been less amusing for you after hours of suspending. I know when most people suspend, there are a few minutes of settling in and then comfort. Usually depending on the suspendee the comfortable point can last from minutes to hours. Did you find that it went back and forth on comfort and pain? Or was there a point that it stayed comfortable/painful?
Nick: Well, I was in my zone as soon as there was tension on the lines. I left the table about 10 seconds in and the sensation from the hooks was constant and pretty much the same throughout the entire suspension after I was up. I was extremely comfortable for the entire hang, as far as the hooks anyway.
My joints, organs, and body… different story. That’s where the tolerance comes into play. I was constantly moving my arms, legs, and hips to help with this, but it was still a pretty long ride. Also, there was a 4 hour gap where I had to urinate extremely bad, but couldn’t do to the amount of pressure that was being applied to my organs by my skin being stretched. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to go until the end of the suspension, this was all happening about 19 hours in or so. Finally I was able to go, and at that point I knew I was good until the end. Certainly some rough obstacles to overcome, but I was able to pull through successfully.
HL: That is awesome you were able to get through that much of it and stay relatively comfortable. With a lot of suspendees, there is a sense of ‘lost time’ for lack of a better word. It is hard to tell if you have been in the air for 5 minutes or 45, often with time passing faster than you realize. Did this happen with you? Or was there a point where you were very aware of the minutes dragging on?
Nick: I was trying to go more off of hours rather than minutes. We had plenty of movies and tv to watch, plus I constantly had friends visiting me throughout the night, as well as my crew that was beside me the whole time. Still though, when you’re going for the big 24, it’s hard to not constantly be aware of every single second.
HL: I can imagine it would definitely put it on your mind a little more. Speaking of your team and visitors, I recall seeing Lucas, Andrew S, and Kel there I believe. Who all was involved in the planning and facilitation of your suspension?
Nick: Well, I installed the main and secondary rig points in the living room, and we did it at my place. The crew was Lukas Larson (Dissected Art), Andrew S. & Kel Tera (SwingShiftSideShow), & Shane Ranniger.
I also need to mention my wife Lindsey as part of the crew as well. She was there with me the whole time, getting me water, juice, or anything else I needed while I was in the air. And she let me put holes in the living room ceiling as well, so that was pretty awesome of her! So now we have 3 points to hang, including the stairwell, for anyone wanting to hang that’s passing through Vegas.
HL: That is definitely awesome of her! So since you have tackled the 24 hours, do you feel like you have met your goal and are satisfied, or has it added fuel to the fire and made you want to try and push even further?
Nick: There have been discussions of a possible 3 day and even a 7 day attempt. Knowing what I know now after this one, I’m fully confident that I can go even longer if I ever choose to, but for now I think I’m going to focus more on free-fall, single points, pulls, and lifts with my buddies.
I think the 3 day is a good next long term goal if I choose to proceed. I think it can still be done with minimal tissue damage, but with the 7 day I think tissue damage is almost guaranteed (even with transitions).
Also, I think it’s important to note somewhere that my first timed suspension was my 4th suspension and was for 1 hour with a double cut-away. My second timed suspension was my 5th suspension and was for 7 hours with a triple cut-away. I did a 3 hour lotus double cut-away on suspension # 7, and this last timed one, after the failed attempt in June, was for 24 hours and only my 14th time to ever suspend!
Thanks for sharing a little about your experience with us, Nick. It is a wonderful accomplishment, especially after such a long wait to complete it. I think it is important that you mentioned that this isn’t your first attempt with this goal and the lengthy amount of time you spend preparing for it in between. I would hope that anyone reading this would be aware that suspending for such a long amount of time isn’t something to jump into on a whim, and understand that you had professionals looking after you throughout your suspension. Whatever you decide to move onto and try next, I wish you the best of luck! I am sure that whatever it is, it will be incredible.