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September 26th, 2012

Team-building…it sounds so vitally constructive, we might almost wonder how colleagues managed anything at all before it arrived.

Initial exercises like a group lap-sit are designed to break down the formality between relative strangers and to promote the sharing of individuals’ insight and approaches to problem-solving, in ways which hopefully stay on in the collective mind.

Simple games like “Helium Stick”, in which a tube or rod must be lowered towards the ground by the team, relies on everyone’s inability to predict that when four or more pairs of hands are supporting something, it’s difficult to be the person who initiates downward movement!

Counter-intuitive activities work well to show that it takes a real conscious effort to step away from engrained, unproductive habits.

A Tug-of-War ensures everybody feels contributory to team-effort; and physical tests like “All-Aboard” make a humorous task of keeping as many members as possible, standing within a diminishing area.

The aim is invariably to encourage discussion and involvement by everyone, and to escape the common feeling of being a small cog in a machine whose final purpose isn’t clear.

Even coming up with slick, concise team-mottos is a great team-activity. But the opportunity to take a team’s collective spirit outdoors and demonstrate its strengths in unusual and frustrating tasks, has enduring appeal.

Paint-balling, raft-racing and bridge-building may seem only to favour athletic and practical types, but a varied physical cross-section in the team helps to focus minds on the much less simple tasks involved in achieving output under typically more-complex business circumstances.

Head 4 Heights offers simple yet decidedly challenging gravity-based tasks, perfect for motivating groups to take on initially-daunting goals, like climbing a ladder with rungs four feet apart. ‘All-Aboard’ is a very different game, played forty feet above the ground! And when else will you get to see your boss in helmet and harness, swinging from a trapeze?

Check out our Leap of Faith Video Here

September 17th, 2012

Outdoor challenges should always test competitors’ physical fitness and mental resilience. But some are deliberately more difficult than just a long trek across open country, against the clock.

Assault courses like the ‘Tough Guy’ and ‘Tough Mudder’ take a certain sadistic relish in making the trip from A to B as long and uncomfortable as possible. Inspired by the harshest spirit-crushing military tests of endurance, they inevitably attract as many spectators as participants.

The ordeals are easier to watch than endure, but those taking part are perfectly aware of the horrors they’ll encounter on the way. And possibly, plunging into filthy, icy lakes or crawling through stinging-nettles awakens a certain masochistic fulfilment…

…because dodging high-pressure hoses and leaping over diesel-filled flame-pits attracts a surprising number of apparently sensible, determined types, including a female contingent of about 10%. In winter, it’s often necessary for the ice to be broken before the race begins…but generally only a minority actually complete the course.

In case anyone is bored by a straightforward ‘cross-country run’, the route is spiced-up by ankle-twisting mountains of tyres, water-filled tunnels, clouds of smoke and pepper-spray, and a towering rope-walk.

Plus, log-lifting and plank-walking sections, even dangling electrified cables to add a spark to the proceedings, all amongst forests of barbed-wire that prevent any circumnavigation of the hellfire and quagmire, as seen here:

There’s no doubting the horror of the ordeal – broken bones and hypothermia are common causes of participants’ withdrawal; even fatalities are not unknown. Before taking part, everyone must acknowledge the risk they run, by signing a ‘death warrant’.

Yes, competitors need ‘balls’, to attempt these challenges…and it may be worth each man insuring his own, before the day of the race!

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