Bear Grylls is swapping the great outdoors for the road when he takes his new Endeavour stage show around the country. He’s had to adapt to a new kind of fitness but, typically, he’s not doing it by halves…
Bear, for those who don’t know what they’re all about, tell us about the new Endeavour stage shows coming up in October…
This show is something I’ve been writing and planning for the past two years and has been a monster to put together! But the end result is a mind-blowing live action and adventure show of aerial acrobatics and stunts. Think avalanches, crevasses, base jumping and cliff diving, to name a few!
Endeavour takes the audience on a hair-raising, immersive, theatrical expedition across the globe, using state-of-the-art video mapping technology and some very cool special effects.
Through this, we recreate some of the greatest feats of courage, endurance and endeavour through the ages. It is kind of like the audience is on a journey, as we uncover these incredible true-life stories of survival: from frozen Antarctica and the cruel winds of Everest, to the humid jungle, shark-infested waters and even into space.
At heart it is about revealing the wonder of our planet and the humbling power of mankind’s indomitable spirit. Endeavour really is the ultimate uplifting experience, that leaves you feeling like you can conquer the world.
You’re normally used to working outside… is it weird working on an indoors project?
The fun part is using technology to bring extreme sports, wilderness and adventure to an arena setting – but it is incredible what you can do nowadays with mapping, lighting and aerial stunts. It’s about transporting the audience to different terrains before their very eyes. I want people to watch the show and forget they are anywhere near a city!
You have always embraced technology. What do you use in your everyday fitness habits?
I use kettle bells, TRX and Power Plate. But the heart of great training really is effort – pure and simple
The show features a lot of acrobatics. Tell us what sort of training you’ve had to do?
I’ve been training my core and doing yoga for the aerial stuff, and hill sprints for the intensity of the stunts – to make sure I will still being able to talk! I’ve been doing 30 minutes every day of high intensity and functional fitness.
Doing a tour like this will require a different kind of survival. You’ll be on the road, so how will you keep fit and maintain your nutrition habits?
Yep – eating healthy on tour is key – and we always have good catering. That, plus a former Commando buddy to hang out with us and train! Although, because the show is so physical, I will probably change the training to one day of yoga and one day of our ‘hero’ workouts, to give me time to recover and rest. Not getting run down is key on such a schedule.
You mention fear earlier… you’re afraid of heights yet swing about in a harness in the show. Do you have any mental tips for those who deal with fears on a daily basis?
We all have niggling fears. When I was serving with the military I fractured T8 T10 & T12 vertebrae in a free-fall parachuting accident in southern Africa, and ever since then I will always feel that fear when I’m about to jump or parachute. But there is also always that hand on my shoulder, from one of our crew, knowing it is hard for me but encouraging me to face the fear once more. You have to face these head on. It will be the same pre-show every night. Nerves, and plenty of them, but that fear is there to sharpen us!
The show celebrates some inspirational feats of courage, endurance and endeavour. Who inspired you as a burgeoning adventurer?
My late dad inspired me to not be afraid to go for things and to take a few risks. He was the one that taught me to climb and to love adventure at a young age and I used to love those climbing missions aged 8 – it was what brought us close together and I am sure it is a big part of why I love adventure to this day. It breaks down barriers and creates wonderful and lasting connections with people. My dad was a great inspiration and we grew up with his values that failure was never something to be scared of. It was good to aim high and go for things – and failure was only ever seen as a stepping stone to success.
Some of the footage in the show sees rocks crumble beneath your feet and you swimming with sharks – have you ever felt like your time was up in real life?
On too many occasions! When I climbed Everest for example, I fell into a dark icy crevasse at an altitude of 19,000 feet. I should have died. But my best friend Mick, and one other climber, were able to keep hold of the rope and pull me to safety. Whilst climbing Everest we had four climbers die on that expedition – and this is the dark side of these high mountains. It knocked my confidence a lot, but it was also a life-defining moment when I finally reached the summit. It is always a humbling experience to realise that we are not as strong as we think – mountains remind us of that always.
Can you remember when you experienced peak fear? What scares you?
When I broke my vertebrae in that free-falling accident, lying in that hospital bed being told I’d never walk again, that was pretty scary. But it made me more determined to fulfil my goal of climbing Everest. This had been a huge dream of mine ever since I was a kid and my late dad had given me a poster of Everest that I always kept by my bed. That drove me on so much in those dark days and weeks in hospital after my accident. That determination to get to walk again and eventually to get climbing again, was key to my recovery and it lit a fire within me that eventually took me to the summit of Everest and back. I was driven to re-find my identity after my accident and so much of my identity had always been wrapped up in my ability to climb well. I stumbled a lot on that journey of recovery for sure and had many dark days, but also I now see how I never took my eyes off that goal. Everest gave me that driving force to get strong again and go out and grab life boldly.
As for fear nowadays – it is always present before big adventures. I have grown used to it but never complacent. I use it as a reminder to do what I am doing 100% right, every time. You only get it wrong once in the wild.
You’ve travelled most of the world and seen many things, what would you like to conquer that you haven’t already?
I feel we have a huge responsibility for our incredible planet and its creatures. As a patron for Tusk Trust, I want to see an end to Rhino horn and elephant tusk poaching in my lifetime – it’s a bloody battle that needs conquering.
In my position as Chief Scout, and with 40 million scouts worldwide, I really want to help more kids to be able to get outside, and have the opportunity to adventure and explore with good friends. That camaraderie is at the heart of why I have always loved adventure. The bonds are very real.