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Published February 13th 2018
Get yourself into shape outdoors
For months I followed Take Shape Adventures on Facebook and Instagram, watching them advertise and document amazing adventurous trips in and around Victoria, Tasmania, and New Zealand. They posted pictures of elated, smiling people, hiking and rock climbing in pristine natural environments, with inspirational, motivational taglines that finally spurred me into action and I signed up for one of their walks.
For a lot of people, fear of not being fit enough or not knowing anybody often holds them back from engaging in group activities. Take Shape Adventures aims to create a safe and welcoming community of like-minded people who want to experience the natural world and improve their fitness at the same time. The tour leaders encourage the group to challenge themselves and conquer their fears, and their strategy of making everything easy is one which works! They provide delicious homemade snacks and lunches that are energising and nutritious and which make a hiker feel even more virtuous. TSA's aim is for people to form new friendships and complete each adventure feeling proud of their achievements and excited to do more.
Healthy picnic lunch provided
We provide the gear, the food, the community. All people need to do is show up," says Tracey Wright, Managing Director.
Adrian Infanti, guide for the day and Director of TSA, has the physique and sartorial style of the quintessential athlete. It's the spring in his step and the sun visor that really gives the game away. He's the picture of health and wellness.
The day begins with introductions then Adrian extends an invitation to relax, breathe in nature, appreciate the fact that we have all chosen to undertake such a positive activity on a Saturday morning and have a good time. Once everyone has arrived we set off, tackling the Warburton Aqueduct trail, on a 9km Grade 2 hike, a very gentle walk, suitable for beginners. The flora surrounding the track is lush and green and the river is high, making this a picturesque scene. The morning sun shines through the foliage and the group members chat amiably as we walk.
Our group is made up of couples, single women and a few solo parents with their children. Adrian chats to everyone during the walk, ensuring that every member of the group is comfortable and coping.
Adrian is a knowledgeable guy, formerly a park ranger, who leads our group along the Warburton River track. His expertise is evident when he pauses to point out the delightfully pretty red flowers and thick, lustrous ivy that carpet the banks of the Yarra River. He informs us of their noxious weed characteristics and how they are rampant along this top third of the 275km long waterway.
He also gives us a concise education about rough and soft tree ferns, impressively reeling off the botanical names for the soft fern (Dicksonia antarctica). Slightly less impressive is the official "I can't remember" for the rough tree fern, but, actually, this kind of fallibility and humour is what makes him such a personable and fun tour leader.
Soft tree fern: dicksonia antarctica
The staff at TSA understand that for some people, getting out of the city and attempting to climb hills is way out of their comfort zone. In fact, Tracey Wright was actually quite overweight when she started her fitness journey so she empathises with the barriers people face when embarking on a new fitness regime.
Tracey has a background in nutrition and was interested in exercise and training so she completed a course to become a personal trainer. She opened her studio in 2010 and launched the extra arm of the business, Take Shape Adventures, after realising that her clients were enjoying the outdoor bootcamps. Tracey and her family all enjoy active lives and spend their weekends out "getting things done". She invited her clients on a bushwalk, they loved it, and they've never looked back. Some of those clients even ended up becoming guides and working for the company.
At the end of the day, I feel elated. Hiking is something I did for recreation when I was a young adult, embarking on my career and my adult life. I love being out in the natural environment, hearing birds chirping, trees rustling and water rushing by in a river. The therapeutic effect of watching fluffy ducklings learning to jump into the water, or bugs haphazardly crawl around on a log, is not lost on me. However, as tempted as I am to bushwalk every weekend, I'm also intimidated by being alone in the bush. I'm scared of snakes, of breaking my leg, getting lost, and of bad guys who jump out from behind trees with murderous intentions. Take Shape Adventures offers the safety and comfort of the crowd to the neurotic like me. It feels like I have come full circle and I'm at the beginning of another adventure.
This weekend I've booked in for the Smartphone and Hiking Walk in Lorne. I can't wait to join another group and see another beautiful part of Victoria.
Take Shape Adventures offers day walks, overnight hikes, yoga weekends, and all sorts of options are available for people who want to get fit and have fun in a group. Take your kids or friends. Just get out there!
Contact Tracey or Jess to find out more. Find Take Shape Adventures on Facebook and Instagram.
16/2: Parent & child retreat
18/2: Smartphone photography and hiking workshop
20/2: Bushwalking Equipment and info evening
23/2: Granite Hills day walk
24/2: Sealers Cove/Refuge Cove hikes
3/3: Night time walk: Two Bays
3/3: Parent/kids overnight walk