Challenging Heights

Are you a scared-y cat with heights? This past weekend was a test of sorts to see about just that.

rope challenge course

I had the good fortune to take an amazing group of ladies from my Calgary NW Fit Body Boot Camp  to a challenge course called Nex Level Challenge in Bowden, Alberta. As you can clearly see, if anyone had an issue with heights, it would be revealed.

What I liked about this adventure was that it was a ‘challenge by choice’ event. The organizers respected everyone’s abilities and they suggested everyone make an ‘easy challenge’ and a ‘hard challenge’. For some, the hard challenge was just getting to the top of the ‘bird cage’ which was the ladder tower to get to the starting point of the course. The cargo net in the middle allowed you to get to 11 other elements. Each element was slightly different, but as you can well imagine, involved balance and problem solving, the least of which was facing the good ole fear of heights and being able to look down while conquering the element.

Let’s back up a few hours though.

rope challenge women sept 2013

This event started on Friday night with a fitness boot camp in the field followed by an amazing dinner and camp fire.

On Saturday we started with group challenges. We were presented with a problem, limited time and ridiculous rules to follow in achieving our goal. For example, we had to move 17 people through a different hole in a spider web without touching the net, on another we had to cross an imaginary river with 12 people on a plank bridge. The trick was that we only had three different sized planks for the long bridge and we had to keep moving the planks to get across, all while balancing on the bridge. All challenges involved team work and communication.

Turns out I’m ‘Little Miss Bossy’ where ever I go. My easy challenge for the entire day was to do the most challenging physical challenges. Apparently I have absolutely no fear of heights. I ran across a log 40 feet in the air. The hardest challenge was the tight rope with a loopy rope to hang onto where my best strategy was to use my teeth to re-grip the rope. Turns out jaw strength came in handy 😉

My hard challenge was to ‘wait my turn’ and let others lead at times. It was a good lesson in patience for me and an opportunity to be a better listener. Some people are born leaders and others are born followers, but everyone has good ideas. My challenge was to let the followers speak up. It was a fantastic group to work with.

Here was our Body weight workout that I put clients through on Friday (I did it with them for fun):

Warm up 2-3 min

Plank relay – We formed a plank line (shoulder to shoulder in a row), the last one in line got up and hurdled the legs of each person and assumed the front position. Once the front person got into the plank the end person got up and hurdled to the front. We made our way down the field for 4 minutes.

AMRAP for 6 minutes:nex level cabin

  • 5 prisoner squats
  • 4 superman – bananas (superman on front, roll to back, legs/hands up)
  • 3 inchworm push ups
  • 2 burpees
  • 1 sprint the field

Metabolic Sets (2 rounds: 40/05 first round, 30/05 second round)

  1. prisoner squat
  2. push up shoulder touch
  3. burpee
  4. lunge with forward reachcabin mate Cat and me
  5. alternating single leg walk out to plank
  6. skater lunge jumps
  7. plank with alternate leg lift
  8. super man T squeeze
  9. squat jump
  10. prisoner lateral lunge
  11. double jump burpee


20/10 sprinter start skip hop alternating legs 8 sets total

Cool down 3-5 min

Here are some cool pictures:

rope challenge 2                  rope challenge 3  plank challenge course  spider web challenge

rope challenge me 1








At the end of the weekend we did a debrief with my team, most of the people said that they felt if they were more confident in their strength they would have been up to handling the different elements better. So many of the rope passes involved upper body strength and core stability. Having confidence in your physical ability makes all the difference when faced with this sort of thing. On the hardest element for me I mentioned that I actually needed to use my teeth to give my upper body a rest. Thank goodness for the upper body work that I do or I would have been toast on that high wire.  If you want to really help your upper body strength, my pull up plan is the one for you.

Upper body strength really came in handy on the inverted cone that we were challenged to scale. My partner on this was the same height as me which turned out to be a problem.  We were challenged since we couldn’t really reach the hand holds easily. To begin, I stood on her back to get to the hand holds then I scaled to the top and hung over the edge to grab her.  I pulled her up with one hand so she could get to the hand hold with the other. Sort of hard to explain, but let me tell you we felt invincible when we got to the top of that tower.  She was a trooper and it was NOT a win for me unless she got to the top too.

There’s NO better feeling that winning at a physical challenge you set out for yourself, no matter what it is.

Here’s a ‘Body Part Blitz‘ for you to hit your back and pulling muscles to increase strength. You never know when you’ll be on a tight wire like I was:

  • pull up negatives 5 reps (these can be assisted, do one count up, 4 counts on the way down)
  • DB bent over rows (palms facing forward) 10 reps (go as heavy as you can with good form)
  • Ab wheel roll out 10 reps
  • Chin up negatives 5 reps (these can be assisted, do one count up, 4 counts on the way down)
  • Jump rope 100 skips (who can’t resist a cardio burst?)

Repeat 3-5 times

When ever I’m in a commercial gym, I’m often asked, ‘What are you training for?’ My response is generally ‘just life’. This rope challenge was a prime example. It’s not likely that I’ll be in a life or death situation where I’ll ever have to walk a tight rope or scale an inverted tower, but it’s good to know that I could do it.

This rope challenge retreat weekend was spectacular. Luckily for me I have no vertigo or fear of heights. I was confident to be able to do all the most challenging of challenges. However, I think it was a bigger win for some of my clients who had a severe fear of heights to get to even the top of the bird cage, or do any challenge off the ground. The fact that they even chose to come on this adventure was inspiring to me. I think I’m just too dumb to realize the consequences of falling to be afraid of heights. I have this attitude that I can conquer anything. This attitude may do me in one of these days, but until then, I’ll just keep pushing my limits 😉

Do you have any fears? Fear of heights? Claustrophobia? Spiders? What?

I can’t say as I have any fears…well come to think of it,  singing in front of a group is pretty terrifying to me. Yep, that’s it. I can public speak, but don’t ask me to sing (trust me, this is for your own protection). Another fear I suppose (and one you should have for self preservation), is cooking. My fear is to cook for you, your fear would be eating my cooking 😉

I hope that whatever challenge you find yourself in, you can lean on your training to help you out as I did in this rope challenge. conquering my fear of song and cooking, well, that’s for another day.

PS If you ever want to conquer a rope challenge course or even prepare for a Mudder-style obstacle course, you’ll want my Pull Up Challenge workouts to prepare.