The most danger you’d expect to encounter at a typical corporate retreat is a trust-fall partner with butterfingers. But apparently there’s a new breed of super-intense events that’s luring cube-dwellers who want to pursue EXTREME BRO BONDING. Since when are office retreats as harrowing as a fraternity hazing?
The Wall Street Journal reports that more than a dozen companies specializing in extreme obstacle courses have cropped up over the past few years, attracting “participants eager to break out of their cubicles and bond with co-workers, or simply vanquish them.” This is not about jumping over a few hurdles.
Here’s how the Journal describes some of the obstacle courses:
Participants on a 10-to-12 mile Tough Mudder course wade through waist-deep mud, crawl under barbed wire, submerge themselves in ice water and jump through fire. At the “electroshock therapy” obstacle, they pass through a dangling curtain of electrical wires, some carrying “10,000 volts of electric shock,” the company says. (The current, measured in amps, is low. It “feels like a major rubber band,” a spokesman says.) Spartan Race’s three-to-eight mile courses have featured abandoned mine tunnels, and a barrier of costumed “gladiators” just before the finish line.
Death waivers are standard. Helicopters are on call. One of the events asks participants to pay an insurance fee, and 7% of participants end up suffering “light” injuries.
Ok, I’ll come out and say it: This sounds horrific. And while I’m sure there are some women that are into getting covered in mud and battling “gladiators,” I think it’s safe to say this is a pretty masculine pursuit. “Every guy in the boardroom thinks he’s the toughest guy in there,” one participant tells the paper. One of the obstacle companies reports that half their participants are women, while others claim 25% and 35%.
But what happens to the women who want sit this one out? What about those who went to the trouble of learning golf, only to find out that the next form of outdoor office bonding involves signing a death waiver? And if we agree to run through the “gladiator” gauntlet, what’s next, an extreme outer-space-marathon challenge? Give us a break, office bros!
Photo: Wall Street Journal