Meet Our Guide: Nicole Marriott

The hot topic at GT headquarters this month has been – the ‘stretch zone’. You may be wondering what on earth we are on about! Put simply it is that space between your comfort zone and freak out zone. When you are in the stretch zone you will be challenged. It may be uncomfortable and frustrating at times. You might even feel like having a little tanty and saying – ‘I don’t want to do this!’ – or – ‘I can’t do this!’ Well, guess what? It usually means you are learning something and that it will all be worth it in the end. We spoke to one of our super guides Nicole Marriott about her experiences in supporting GirlsTrek clients through to the other side.

Have you ever found yourself in the stretch zone and how did you handle it?

It’s important to set goals and usually it is an event that is slightly out of my comfort zone. For myself personally it’s longer type events that ‘scare’ me into action to push my training outside of my comfort zone. In 2016 and 2017 I did the Lake Argyle swim, near Kununurra in WA, which is a 20km relay. The training for events such as this, is often the hardest part. This particular event, coming into winter, means the latter part of the training sees us getting up in the dark and training in colder water which is not my preferred way to swim! 20km is a long way and the conditions can often be rough so you do need to be fit. If you have done the physical preparation often the actual event can be more of a mental challenge. Swimming with freshwater crocs on an inland sea is not everyone’s idea of fun and definitely contributes to the mental challenge! You have to drop any negative self-talk. Your body & mind can achieve so much more than you realise and the absolute high you get after finishing is so worth it! (oh and the champagne at the finish line also tastes pretty great!)

When you see a client having a ‘bad day’ how do you support them through this?

I listen, encourage and support! People may be experiencing fear and at Girls Trek have to make a judgement on whether this fear is mental or a genuine physical issue that we need to take seriously. We would never take our clients somewhere that is dangerous so if the weather has turned bad or someone is not well you need to take this into account. A lot of the mental stuff that goes on in our heads can be flipped around with a bit of support and before they know it, they are at the top of that mountain and so happy with themselves.

After ten years in business we have collected a lot of anecdotal feedback from our clients which indicates we are changing people’s lives with this approach. How have you observed this?

I really saw this in action on our Tasmania Walking and Wine trip a few years ago. I know that those girls will never forget the climb up Mt Amos on the Freycinet Peninsula. It was very challenging at times. No-one was going to fall off the mountain, but it was a steep, rocky & sometimes scary climb with the reward of an absolutely INCREDIBLE view. Everyone took to it to the very best of their ability. Seeing how empowered everyone was at the end of the day was awesome. They get to take that feeling home with them – what a sense of achievement!

What has been the best ‘stretch zone’ trip you have taken with GirlsTrek?

Definitely the “Ten Peaks” trip & the training required for it! The trip gave the clients the opportunity to scale the ten highest peaks in Australia in under 48 hours. All peaks are within the Snowy Mountains National Park.  Due to a particularly unseasonal, late snowfall in November that year, we were shin deep in snow for hours on end. The vistas and scenery of this area are absolutely incredible. Mt Kozzy itself actually ends up being one of or probably THE easiest peak on the trip. It was very rewarding supporting those women along the way. Despite everyone being fit enough due to a rigorous training programme, the challenge of the elements and the importance of keeping safe in back country put most girls well outside of their comfort zone. At the end of the day so much of life is about believing in yourself and a trek & challenge like Ten Peaks is a great way to see that if you put your mind to it you can do it! The sense of comradery and connection of the group after we completed was incredible – and of course meant for a fabulous celebration in Canberra that evening!

Girls Trek has so many trips for clients of all abilities to get a little (or a lot!) outside their comfort zone! I recently took my mother with a group of her friends for her 70th birthday on the King Valley trip. Frith was so accommodating of the needs of the group and everyone still felt challenged in whatever facet they were comfortable with! Girls Trek its not all about scaling high peaks.

So, get in your stretch zone ladies!!! Some of life’s biggest exhilaration’s can come from the sense of achievement in completing a goal where you have been somewhere between ‘comfort and freak out’!! Where to next?!