I’m one of those people who believes that I have athletic prowess. Of course I can run that race! Sure, I can lift that object! I’ve got the strength/stamina/willpower. Truth be told, though I have completed a couple half marathons, I can barely swim a lap across a pool before I need to take a breather, and while I enjoy taking on a strenuous hike, I have minimal upper body strength. And yet I happen upon things like Flagstaff Extreme Adventure (located in Arizona) and am immediately convinced that I can not only beat the challenges they set forth but that I can blow them out of the water. That I can be that guy who whizzes through physical obstacles without any problems
But who am I kidding?
Just because I participated in gymnastics as a kid does not make me a gymnast, and just because I enjoy being active doesn’t mean I’m invincible when it comes to physical fitness. And Flagstaff Extreme Adventure definitely requires physical skill and mental gymnastics. Don’t be fooled by what you think you can do when you’re standing on a rope suspended 60 feet in the air.
Flagstaff Extreme Adventure is a string of four circuit courses, each consisting of 10-17 obstacles. These include barrels, hanging nets, wobbly bridges, difficult-to-reach footholds, rope ladders, zip lines and other assorted things to climb over, crawl through, scramble around and otherwise navigate. The four circuit courses increase in difficulty as you progress throughout the course, beginning with the green course, which has minimum elevation and requires minimal skill level. As I easily made it through these obstacles, I was feeling confident in my body’s ability to muscle, bend and flex my way onwards through the maze of other challenges.
At the conclusion of the first circuit, we had the choice to climb out of the trees for a stretch or keep on keeping on along the second course, marked in blue. This one is a bit higher in elevation and the obstacles are a bit more difficult. They require some strategic thinking and a bit of awkward foot and hand work. My husband and I made it through this course just a bit slower, especially as we arrived on the final platform.
As we took a breather on the final platform of the blue circuit, a few other people finished up the last blue obstacle and decided to call it quits. We weren’t exhausted quite yet, but I was certainly beginning to call my physical fitness level into question. Nonetheless, I was not to be defeated, and so onto the red course we went.
The red course is much higher in the trees with advanced-level obstacles. Before tackling each of these obstacles, we spent time examining them, thinking about how best to finagle through them. Each required a very specific strategy and plan of action. At one point in time, I simply became stuck on the rope, unsure how to advance forward but also completely unable to get back to the last platform. One of the spotters on the ground hollered up to me, asking if I was alright, and I responded that I simply needed a minute to regroup, which was true. My arms hurt. My legs were shaking. My confidence was barely hanging on as I looked toward the ground, which felt very, very far away. But I don’t quit. Real athletes don’t quit. So I pulled it together and figured out how to push on.
At the end of the third circuit, there was no question about our next decision. It was time to call the day a success and climb down from the course. Our foreign exchange student had taken off ahead of us and was nearly done with the final circuit, marked in black, by the time we finished the red circuit. Glancing at the obstacles strung up around the black course, I knew I’d made the right decision. I may be presumably buff, but I’m not kidding anyone. My strength and flexibility aren’t non-existent, but I’m certainly no superhero, and I’m definitely not that guy. I was just an average girl, swinging through the trees, balancing on a rope, making my way from one tree to another with average fitness capabilities.
And it was fun. We had a blast for the three hours we were on the course. I love to be challenged, and it was incredibly rewarding to make it through obstacles that looked nearly impossible to complete. And, as cheesy as it might sound, it was a fun activity to do with my family. We had a great time swinging, climbing, zipping and crawling from platform to platform, cheering each other on along the way. For anyone with any athletic prowess at all (or at least a sense of humor and adventure), this is a fantastic experience.
For those people wondering about safety: All participants are extremely safe on the course. I was locked into a harness tethered to a safety line at all times, and we each went through a practice course just a few feet off the ground just to get a feel for the experience. Should anyone fall, they won’t fall more than a few feet from where they’re standing. Spotters are located on the ground throughout the course to help people who have fallen and are dangling by their rope or need to be “rescued” off the course. There is a kids course available for the younger ones.
Information on Flagstaff Extreme Adventure can be found here.
Disclaimer: My experience at Flagstaff Extreme Adventure was compensated for my family, but all opinions are my own.