The unexpected bootcamp

Starting a new job is always hard. There is so much to learn and so many new people to meet. New procedures or new computer programs. When I applied for my new job I had spoken to people who had done it before. They both agreed; the first few weeks would be tough, exhausting and possibly painful. However, it would be worth pushing through to have the summer of a lifetime. So I went through the interview process and got assigned a training date. After waiting (and travelling) for over 6 weeks I finally started my training to become a ziplining guide.

On Sunday I had booked a tour just to enjoy the experience as a guest and get familiar with what would become my job. I went together with a future colleague. We got all harnessed up and were ready to go. Then we saw the first of five lines. Wow, this was pretty long and pretty high. What if I chickened out now? On this line two people could zip together. There were four others in the group who looked at us full of hope when the guide asked who wanted to go first. So off we went, flying through the forest. It was amazing! What an awesome feeling! During the tour one of the guides talked a bit about the job and I left feeling all enthusiastic about it.

Monday was our actual start day. I had some idea of the things we would have to learn, but we pretty much dived straight into it at a much faster pace than I had expected. As a guide you need to be able to zip in control and break yourself on all the lines. There is no good way to learn this apart from just doing it. So after hearing the theory of it, it was our turn to give it a try. Hesitantly I climbed up and hooked myself onto the rope. I looked at my gloves questionably. These things look and smell like garden gloves. Would I really be able to stop myself with these? I didn’t really feel like burn wounds. But it all went fine of course. It takes some time to learn how much pressure you use and when you start to break, but it gets easier with every zip.

If I have learned one thing, it is that this job is not easy. It is physically demanding and I am pretty much untrained in my upper body. Today, after four days of training, I feel my arms as I type and every time I cough my abs are killing me. Call it zipline bootcamp. You use your upper body a lot to help break people as well as yourself. Besides that we have to know how to get people off the line if they get stuck in the middle for some reason. Today was the day I had to practise my retrieval. I was nervous. I did not thinkThe u I would have the strength. Earlier in the week we had to reverse on a line, dragging our own bodyweight up a cable. The whole line I was thinking ‘I should loose some weight’. At the end I was struggling, trying to jerk myself to the top.

I was the second to last person to do the retrieval. So far everyone had made it, but most of them struggled. I decided to stay calm, see how it goes and deal with that later. Zipping down towards someone is a bit strange and controlling your speed is even more important. Luckily it was another trainee on the other side, who gave me some encouraging words before I had to pull myself back to the platform. It went a lot smoother than I had expected. I was exhausted at the top and my throat was dry, but I made it. I took a small breather as I unhooked again and grabbed the rope to pull in my colleague. To my surprise I had made good time. I am impressed with myself and super relieved. Maybe the guys are right. Maybe you do grow muscles really quickly. Stick with this job and you get fit while you work.

After four full on days, with protocols, learning to zip, learning to guide, give speeches and literally learning the ropes, we are still not done. Next week we will have more training because there is still a lot to learn and a lot to improve one. My head feels like it is going to explode due to information overload. My muscles complain when I try to stretch them. My brain is excited to learn more. I am getting more comfortable with what I am doing every day, but every day also brings up new questions and doubts. I am glad the training is so extensive because ultimately it is not a job without dangers. I am so glad I applied though. I am pushing through and hopefully it will get easier. The company seems great and the people super friendly and supportive. Even as I was walking from my training to the bus stop, two people who also work for the company but whom I had never met, approached me and asked about my day. Summer is going to be amazing. I’ll have learned new skills and if you don’t recognize me, I’m the girl with the muscles.

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