Meet Our Guide: Suzanne James

A trip with GirlsTrek is not a cookie cutter experience. We are agile and flexible with a commitment to making sure that every single person gets the most out of their precious time out. We want you to come home feeling refreshed, with a sense of achievement no matter your fitness level. This is where our highly skilled guides come to the fore. We spoke to Suzanne James about how she works with individuals within each group to ensure they have the time of their lives.

Can you tell us about how you gauge clients’ fitness levels and capabilities and respond accordingly?

A bonus for me is that I take the HikeFit group every Saturday morning. When you purchase a GirlsTrek trip, this training is included in your package. If you live in Brisbane, I am your trainer. This means I get a good understanding of everyone’s fitness levels and how much they like to push themselves and what they may be nervous about. I make sure they are using their poles correctly and can keep them at the back if they would prefer or up the front if they want to extend themselves. If I haven’t met them before the trip, then the first day is really important. I am gauging how they are going and feeling. At the end of the day I will talk to the other guide and adjust accordingly.

Do you have any particular examples of situations where you have had to change tack on a trip?

Yes. I have been on trips where half the group is fitter than the other. We always have two guides, so it is easy to split up. However, we always start together and let it naturally evolve.

On one of the Tasmanian trips we had a lady had hurt her ankle before she came. She was super keen to still come so we came up with a plan to make it work for her. On the first day she walked a slightly shorter course, on the second day she took her time and the third day she cut the walk quite short and spent some time relaxing. She read her book and did a bit of sightseeing in the historic town on Maria Island.

How do you accommodate a group where some of the members may want to be extended more than others?

If this happens, we can do things like stop at the lunch spot at different times or let the faster group do a bit extra. We have a bus so if one group wants to finish a little earlier, they can hop on there and the others can keep walking.

Do you think it matters that there are different fitness levels in a group?

Not at all – having the two guides really makes us more flexible and with small groups it makes it very flexible.

Our guides are well prepared. They know the tracks well and where they can add or take away. I went on a fabulous trek to Mount Kosciuszko and our group ranged from a very fit 42-year-old woman to the eldest who was 66. We had three Grandmothers and a single person. There is always great diversity and open mindedness among our trekkers. They are flexible and accepting of everyone’s differences.

GirlsTrek grade their trips according to level of difficulty. We won’t send you on a holiday that we don’t think you’ll enjoy physically.