Activity Review – Go Ape

I’ve not done a class review for a while, mainly because I haven’t been going to many! In fact, I’ve handed in my notice at the gym and will no longer be a member come October. Much as I love some of the classes I do, life at the moments mean that I’m just not getting the value out of it – no matter how good a class is, it’s not worth £70 if it’s the only thing I do in a given month!

go-ape

However, it’s not like I’m not active in other ways, so I’m broadening this category out a bit and will share some other activities/apps/programmes I use to keep fit instead.

Last week, I was invited to a session at Go Ape in Swinley Forest, as part of a work team building event. For those of you not familiar, the Go Ape tree top adventure involves navigating an obstacle course on high ropes through tree tops, before launching yourself into the beyond down a zip wire. And when I say high, I mean, pretty high. It doesn’t actually say how high, but yup, high. I’m not a big fan of heights, so to say I was apprehensive was probably understating it. In fact, about 5 of the 12 of us there on the day have varying degrees of issues with heights, so it was with some trepidation that we undertook our safety briefing.

After being harnessed up, you’re taken through a practice of using the cable system (feet still firmly on the ground!) before practicing a ladder climb, obstacle and zip wire at a height of about 1m under the watchful eye of an instructor. So far, so good. Then it’s off to the first of 4 mini courses, to start the thing proper. And you’re on your own! Well, I was with my colleagues, but no instructor. However, they remind you that you might possibly die several times before you start and you also have to sign a disclaimer to say that you’re aware that you might possibly die and don’t weigh more than 20.5 stone, so you know it’s important to do what they told you to avoid possibly dying.   Goody.

Climbing the first rope ladder was a quite a challenge as they wobble and you’re getting used to the whole thing, but once I was actually up there, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought. I was very methodical with my clips, making sure I was attached to something at all times (as well as hanging on for dear life), so perhaps my faith in the safety features got me through. You’re told not to look down, but this is damn near impossible given you’re making your way across logs hanging from wires and really need to see where your feet are going!

After navigating several of these obstacles comes the dismount, which is the zip wire. This basically involves launching yourself off a very high platform and hoping that you stay facing forward. Which I didn’t at all. If you crouch down before jumping, you can feel the harness take the strain so you have a level of confidence. Then it’s off! You go fast. REALLY fast. Then you find you are going backwards and you have been told not to try and turn. Which means that went you reach the landing area, you are going ass first and have to use your heels to slow you. It is inevitable that you will bounce along the sawdust on your behind in a most undignified manner, accumulating bark chippings in cracks you didn’t know you had. People lost shoes. It was carnage. But goddam hilarious to watch.

There were four courses to do, getting progressively higher and more difficult to navigate. The finale, before the zip wire on the last course, was a tarzan swing, where you jump off into a giant cargo net, which you have to bounce out of, then grab and climb. The harness takes longer to take your weight, so you free fall for a bit, which is quite scary.

Overall, I loved it – would definitely do it again. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and was a pretty good upper body and core workout. I’m also not going to complain about being paid to spend the day in a beautiful forest rather than at my desk! But overall, it was just really good fun, and apparently I can now consider myself an honorary gorilla. Getting rid of the final bark chips might take a little longer…

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