SEEN visits Troy Gymnastics to take on the Indoor Ropes Course as a team-building exercise.
By Cassie Kunze
Photography by Christine Cook
If scaling across a 20-foot rock wall while suspended 13 feet in the air in front of your co-workers sounds like a daunting task — you’re right. The SEEN team eagerly took on this challenge during a recent trip to Troy Gymnastics to participate in the Indoor Ropes Course team-building class. The IRC opened in July and is designed to build trust and encourage communication through a series of unique team-building exercises.
Team-building activities have become an increasingly popular tool for companies, and research supports the benefits. A 2017 study by University of British Columbia researchers found “teamwork training” to be an effective way to enhance team performance in fields from health care and academia to aviation and the military. The study showed the most effective team-building exercises have team members “engage in activities that require them to actively learn about and practice teamwork” — which is what the ropes course did.
The IRC class was divided into two segments. The first portion was conducted on the ground where we completed problem-solving exercises called “low-ropes.”
One of the exercises involved a golf ball, two traffic cones and several long pieces of string tied to a small ring in the center. With everyone standing in a large circle holding one of the strings, the goal is to pick up the golf ball balanced atop the traffic cone, collectively carry the ball across the room while balanced on the ring, and then set it down on top of the second traffic cone — without dropping the golf ball of course.
Troy resident Toby Buechner, owner of Troy Gymnastics, says team building is an effective tool that helps increase productivity and communication among colleagues. Growing up an athlete, Buechner recognizes the importance of a strong team dynamic. He says the “low-ropes” drills are great exercises since they require communication, a little innovation and a lot of patience — all valuable skills in the workplace.
After successfully completing the groundwork exercises, we moved on to the second segment: the “high-ropes” course. The 1,000-foot-long course features tight-rope walking, ziplining, balancing on various objects while suspended 13 feet in the air and scaling across a rock wall.
Although each person faces the same course, everyone has different challenges to overcome. SEEN Fashion Director Rachel Schostak says although the course was not physically demanding for her, the biggest challenge was being vulnerable in front of her co-workers.
She says it was a valuable team-bonding experience that helped her conquer negative thoughts and a fear of heights. “With support of my peers I was able to get through it,” Schostak says. “When I finished the entire course, I felt extremely proud.”
Buechner explains the unique challenges of the IRC instills a sense of common purpose between co-workers. He says since there are several ways to complete each section of the course, it takes a little creativity and teamwork. “The ropes course is more than a physical challenge,” he adds. “It requires overcoming psychological challenges too.”
Andrea Gusho, SEEN’s client relations director, says overcoming her fear of heights was the most challenging aspect of the course. Gusho says seeing the rest of the team working through their fears motivated her. “I learned I get too in my head about things I haven’t done before attempting to try them,” she says. “It was nice to see I am not the only one who struggles with certain things.”
Buechner says team work and communication is an essential skill in life, not just for business. He adds the positive environment at the ropes course encourages a constructive and self-reflective process. He’s had athletes to religious groups take on the course. “Whether it’s for your office, church, sports team or family,” he says, “the program is an effective team-building tool for everyone.”
1921 Northwood Drive, Troy