FEATURE: Citizen reporter seeks empowerment at firewalking academy

Emma Mason breaking an arrow, watched by Steve Consalvez.
Emma Mason breaking an arrow, watched by Steve Consalvez.
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With the UK’s only dedicated firewalking academy on our doorstep in Thorney, Citizen reporter Emma Mason went along to try out some of the empowerment exercises, aimed at improving confidence.

The academy was set up by business coach Steve Consalvez, who is the only person in the UK to have been trained to master level by the Firewalking Institute of Research and Education (FIRE). He plans to run a series of Firewalk Instructor Training (FIT) and ‘Empowerment Intensive’ events.

Emma's feature on glass walking etc at 'Knarr Farm'.

Emma's feature on glass walking etc at 'Knarr Farm'.

The first Firewalk Instructor Training and Empowerment Intensive training of 2013 will take place May 23-26. A charity firewalk is also taking place on August 17, with a reduced cost to take part and a chance to raise money for the charity of your choice with a different kind of sponsored event.

To book or find out more, call 01733-849999 or email info@successformulae.co.uk. You can also find Success Formulae on Facebook.

“I have never been a big believer in “mind over matter”. As far as I’m concerned, if something is sharp it will cut you, if something is hot it will burn you, no matter what you tell yourself.

But Steve Consalvez was determined to change my mind and persuade me there was nothing I couldn’t achieve with the right frame of mind. So with heart thudding and sweaty palms, I met Steve at his purpose-built training centre to undertake a couple of “empowerment” exercises.

Emma's feature on glass walking etc at 'Knarr Farm'.

Emma's feature on glass walking etc at 'Knarr Farm'.

My first task was to break an arrow with my throat. No mean feat when you consider it is a 28-inch, 25lb wooden target arrow.

“If you are the kind of person that just dips your toe in the water but never goes for it, you may not be able to do this,” Steve warned me before we started. “You can’t hesitate, you have to know you can do it.”

Watching Steve demonstrate breaking the arrow did not make me feel any better, as he placed the pointed end in the hollow of his throat and the other end against a wooden wall. Bracing himself, he quickly moved forward and the arrow snapped with a crack like a starter’s gun.

Then it was my turn. I felt very vulnerable placing the cold metal of the arrow against my throat, very conscious of how easy it would be to do some serious damage.

Emma's feature on glass walking etc at 'Knarr Farm'.

Emma's feature on glass walking etc at 'Knarr Farm'.

Luckily I didn’t have time to work myself up as the photographer counted me down from five and I steeled myself to move forward. An encouraging shout from Steve pushed me through the last part, which felt like someone sticking their finger into my windpipe, and the arrow snapped.

Buoyed along by the success of my first exercise, it was time to roll out the glass walk. An intimidating metre-and-a-half of broken bottles and jars that my brain told me to avoid at all costs. But this was actually much easier than the arrow break.

“This is not about rushing,” Steve said. “With a fire walk, you just want to get across. But with glass, it’s more of a meditative state.”

The initial first step was the hardest, seeing the light glinting off the edges of the glass and knowing I really didn’t want my tender soles anywhere near it.

It was hard to keep my balance to start with but I followed Steve’s advice, putting my weight down slowly and letting the glass settle. The glass was cool and smooth and not sharp like I imagined.

Steve had warned me about the noise of the breaking glass under my feet, but it was still unnerving to hear the cracking and feel it giving way under me. Then before I knew it, I was at the end and Steve was brushing specks of glass from the bottom of my feet.

Throughout my time at The Retreat, situated just off the A47 near Thorney Toll, Steve talked to me about confidence and how my mental attitude can influence my life.

“Now when you come across a situation where you’re a bit hesitant, remember how you felt when you broke the arrow and walked across the glass. Recapture that feeling and just go for it.”

Completing Steve’s challenges certainly gave me a buzz and I will be trying to follow his good advice. As to whether I will be making any life-changing decisions soon, watch this space!