The Great Escape

Ditching the norm for action-packed adult activities

written by Heather KW Brown and Svetlana Zernes
photography courtesy of Dennis Dye; American Footgolf League; Stone Summit; Food Movement

Couple-and-cards-closeWondering what would happen if everyone in our small office was locked in a room together, I pitched the idea of doing just that. It took less than a minute to ask, several hours for everyone to respond and … not quite enough time for our team to successfully escape a lockdown.

When we arrived at the Urban Escape Games site in Alpharetta, we had no idea what was ahead of us. All we knew was that for the first time outside of the office, our editorial team, creative team, accounting and distribution manager, publisher and president would all have to be on the same page. Ready, willing and slightly nervous, we asked the same question many participants in these escape games ask: “Are you really going to lock us in this room?”

Mary Oakes, owner of Urban Escape Games, laughed and said the fire marshall would not approve so, no, we would technically not be locked in the room — but the feeling of being stuck is certainly preserved.

Before we knew it, the clock was ticking and we were searching the room for any and every kind of clue that could possibly get us out in time. Until recently, live room escape games have been strictly an entertainment trend in Europe and Asia. Now, they’re popping up everywhere. Based on computer games, these themed rooms come with a storyline filled with puzzles to solve, clues to discover, mysteries to unravel and oftentimes, many locks to open.

We read, we tugged, we turned and we almost made it out in time. Bumper stickers are given according to your success — ours has the word “almost” edited into it. Though our inner detectives did not produce a flawless finish, the entire experience was a romping success. All eight of us left talking about our strategies that worked and had a few hearty laughs at the ones that didn’t.

According to Oakes, we were in good company as fewer than 40 percent actually crack the codes and leave the brain-busting labyrinth in time.

I’d tell you what happened, but … it’s a secret. You’ll just have to recruit some friends, family or co-workers and give it a whirl. Options at Urban Escapes in Alpharetta include beating a magician to his own game, a murder mystery in a tea shop and the newly released jewelry heist in which YOU are challenged with stealing from the world’s greatest thief. Our escape from the office was so much fun that we decided to search for more action-packed adult activities. urbanescapegames.com

ProAm US 2014 todas 2639KICK FOR PAR
Take two popular sports like soccer and golf, make a few tweaks and what do you get? A mashup that’s making headlines and turning heads. Haven’t heard of FootGolf yet? Not to worry. It took spelling it out in big bold letters for us to take notice.

Intrigued by a billboard touting the sport at Steelhead Golf Course in Sandy Springs, we felt the need to research in person. Played with a regulation No. 5 soccer ball (yes, you can bring your own!) on either nine or 18 holes on golf courses, FootGolf essentially follows the rules of golf with the few exceptions of shortened holes, 21-inch diameter cups and no cart.

According to the American FootGolf League (AFGL), “The concept of FootGolf has been around since forever and everybody invented [it].” The variety of names is sure to keep growing as the sport gains even more popularity.

While purists from both camps might initially scoff at the idea of tinkering with their sport, recreational players find FootGolf nothing less than a perfect way to spend a day. At Steelhead, tee times are recommended so that groups have enough space … and believe us, you’ll need it. A strong kick off the tee comes in handy when trying to make par, but the course has plenty of rolling greens that will make the journey from tee box to pin more challenging — and more fun — than imagined. Just wait until you turn your foot like avid golfers would their putters trying to sink an easy shot. That’s when you’ll realize why 403 courses have opened in 47 states since 2011. It’s frustrating fun at its best.

The AGFL is hopeful that FootGolf might become an Olympic sport, so you might as well grab a tee time while you can. steelcanyongolfclub.com/foot-golf

Stone Summit 3ROCK YOUR TEAM | written by Svetlana Zernes
When we think of rock climbing, endless peaks come to mind. One step into Stone Summit Climbing and Fitness Center confirms that notion, along with a massive first impression. This place is huge. So much so, it is the nation’s largest climbing gym. Lucky to have not one, but two locations — one in Kennesaw and one in Atlanta — we have access to indoor peaks that provide hours of gravity-defying fun regardless of how high you climb.

Offering a vast array of climbing options, both have an awe-inspiring wall design, but the facility visible from I-85 has become more famous because it has hosted every youth national climbing competition since 2010.

There are tons of routes inside (one of them requires a 70-meter rope) and a separate room for bouldering. The wall angles are varied, so you can start off with easier vertical climbs then move on to the steeper ones.

Proven fact: indoors or outdoors, rock climbing is able to boost brain function, block pain and reduce stress. Not only does a one-hour session burn more than 700 calories, it can create an unpredictable level of euphoria and self-confidence gained from taking the risks necessary to set and achieve realistic goals.

Climbing with friends or colleagues? Prepare to discover how each will interact when faced with physical challenges, get a sneak peek at their patience and persistence, not to mention ability to communicate while on the ropes.

Need to increase your flexibility? Stone Summit offers a variety of yoga classes — from beginner level to power yoga — focused on improved strength, endurance, flexibility and muscle tone. Pilates classes also help develop core strength and improve both balance and coordination. Classes are included in a day pass ($15 or $18 if you need rental gear) and in memberships. Oh, and by the way, Stone Summit offers camps perfect for when your kids literally start climbing the wall during summer vacation.

The highly trained staff with years of climbing, route setting and coaching background can assist climbers of all ages and abilities. To prevent slipping, be sure to chalk up your hands. After that, let loose and enjoy! ssclimbing.com

Food Movement 1THE RECIPE OF COLLABORATION
Another restaurant dinner or drink in the hotel bar on the calendar? Change it and plan something slightly more appetizing. When the task of hosting a get-together is in your hands, think hands-on like producing something delicious and acting like real chefs in a state-of-the-art, professionally equipped kitchen.

An already popular Atlanta food truck operator, The Food Movement, has a program offcially branded as the “Team Building with Taste,” a series of culinary challenges allowing participants their own turn as “Chopped” or “Iron Chef” stars. No prior kitchen experience is needed, as you will be guided how to butterfly or to poach. You know what that means, right? If not, don’t worry. Even those that can’t boil water will enjoy the experience.

A little bit of tasty background: the psychological effect of group cooking is developing trust and reliance on one another. With a clock running down, each team has limited time to work together, but the entertainment factor makes the situation far from stressful.

The program offers your choice of eight menu selections with six dishes in each. The Bistro and Italian menus are current favorites, and although chefs provide detailed recipes, opportunity abounds for kitchen creativity by adding new ingredients or varying techniques.

Be as innovative as you like when plating. What if your mushroom risotto, egg pappardelle or flourless chocolate cake with raspberry cream didn’t come out right? Just decorate them in an especially mouth-watering way.

Finally, let one representative of your group demonstrate his or her outstanding sales skills for a one-minute presentation of your team’s dishes in front of very picky judges. Then eat, eat, eat!

At this dinner, there will definitely be more to chat about than the weather. You can truly dish out a better understanding of each other’s personalities and develop a connection that can pay dividends down the road. You might even surprise yourself — and others at the table — with previously untapped talent. Of course, prizes like premium chef jackets, cookbooks and professional quality Santoku knives are pretty attractive, too.

So, on your marks … get set … cook! food-movement.com.