Just about anyone can learn to paraglide. Training classes are not very strenuous, and it doesn't take any unusual strength or skill to learn to fly (the most physical part of training is walking up the hill for another flight!). In fact it requires about the same effort as you need to learn driving or cycling. But the pleasure of flying is to be experienced to be believed. You don't have to be super-fit but you probably won't enjoy it if you are really unfit. There will be a fair amount of walking uphill and ground-handling calls for some exertion especially in the early days.
Learning to fly is a gentle step by step process. Lessons begin on flat ground with your instructor reassuringly by your side. You will be strapped into the equipment (harness, helmet and wing) and learn how to inflate the wing and kite it overhead. As you get familiar with the controls and gain confidence you will be moved up to gentle slopes for small skimming flights where you learn to launch and land before attempting high flights. Once you master the basics you will be longing to go in attempt higher and longer.
Paragliding is a new form of sport aviation, and no claim is made or implied herein that all sources of potential danger to the pilot have or can be identified. No one should participate in paragliding who does not recognize and wish to personally assume the associated risks.
Paragliding is an outdoor sport in which you are trying to harmonize with the forces of nature. Like any other adventure sport it is exciting because of that little element of risk but no more than climbing or swimming. Personal judgment and attitude are of fundamental importance. Gain pilot attitude, obey instructions and use of safe equipment. If these conditions are met the slow speeds and inherent stability of paragliders can provide a safe and exhilarating way to experience the realization of mankind's oldest and greatest dream : personal flight.
A question most people ask. The answer has to be "NO". Floating gently under your canopy you feel totally at ease, knowing that you have more or less complete control over where you are going. It is a gentle adventure, once airborne the experience can be serene, quiet and peaceful. There is an element of potential risk involved, but if you are prepared to learn paragliding properly, stick to the rules, respect the elements and understand your own limitations the risk involved is very small indeed.
No, you don't jump off anything. Paragliders are usually launched by running off moderate slopes with the glider inflated, until it lifts you off your feet. If the glider does not inflate properly, the take off is aborted.
General athletic ability seems to help as it requires a little hiking but once airborne the physical effort is minimal. Being overweight and out of shape will put you at a disadvantage when hiking or executing a hard landing, but airborne there is an efficiency of scale and it is good to be heavy.
In training you will start out just skimming the ground. As you progress and become more skilled and confident you will probably want to go higher. Paragliders have reached over 18000 feet above sea level.
There is no age limit, but it's important to have the maturity to respect the hazards. Participant ages range from students in their teens to seasoned pilots in their 70's. The bulk of the active pilots seem to be a little under 30 through a bit over 50.