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The Short Version: For couples who find coffee dates a little boring, Empower Adventures can help take things to another level. Empower Adventures offers exhilarating ziplines designed to get people out of their comfort zones and get their blood pumping. Based on Army leadership principles, the business gives people a chance to bond by achieving adventure goals together. For a more romantic experience, couples can sign up for a late afternoon zipline tour to see the sunset from high above the ground.
Science has shown that adrenaline rushes and moments of anxiety can enhance attraction between partners. That means skipping the coffee date and doing something a little more adventurous can really spice things up.
Empower Adventures offers couples those experiences with its exhilarating zipline tours in Connecticut, Virginia, and Florida. Participants can fly above the treetops from one platform to another. While the activity is completely safe, it doesn’t always feel that way because participants are so far off the ground.
Couples can zip line over water preserves in the Tampa Bay area or take a zip line tour with only the moon to light the way. That can have couples feeling butterflies in their stomachs in more ways than one.
“Going zip lining isn’t an everyday activity,” said Sara Stirling, the Director of Marketing for Empower Adventures. “It creates an opportunity for partners to bond in a way that’s unexpected. Even if you don’t think you’re scared of heights, that perspective changes when you’re 65 feet above the air about to go down a 650-foot zip line.”
Sara said Empower Adventures’ team of professional guides have discovered that couples often feel a sense of empowerment at the end of the zip line. It can get the blood pumping and adrenaline flowing in a way few other date activities can.
Empower Adventures was founded by Army veteran Joe DeRing. During his time in the service, he learned a lot about leadership skills and the concepts of adventure. He wanted to share the value of those experiences with couples and teams and help them get out of their comfort zones and get their blood pumping. He decided zip lines would be a great way to combine all of those goals.
His flagship location opened in Middletown, Connecticut in 2009, followed by a location in Virginia a couple of years later. Five years ago, he opened the Florida location. From the top of the Florida zip line, participants can see downtown Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and all of Tampa Bay.
“We are focused on using adventure to help people be the best version of themselves and get out of their comfort zones and have fun,” Sara said. “It’s a fun, exciting experience, but secretly it’s built on leadership principles.”
That’s the same for couples who come to Empower Adventures for a date as well as the people who work at its locations. Sara said Joe helps the staff become not only the best versions of themselves, professionally and personally, but also the happiest. Team members are always looking for ways to grow and improve, Sara told us.
Each tour is led by a trained and seasoned guide who ensures everyone is hooked in safely and secure at all times. Team members are also trained to use the braking systems, so participants won’t have to worry about knowing how and when to use their hand brake during the zipline tour.
The minimum age for participation is seven years old. That is because if someone isn’t heavy enough, they won’t make it all the way across. Otherwise, the activity is available to anyone who’s brave enough to try.
“The oldest person we had was a gentleman who celebrated his 96th birthday with us,” Sara said. “We have families, single parents, college students, and high school kids celebrating milestones like birthdays with friends. We’re all over the board. It’s not just for any one demographic or one kind of person.”
Ziplining is especially popular with couples looking to do something unique for a date. The full tour takes about two hours, and participants get to enjoy more than 3,000 feet of zip lines and aerial challenges overlooking the beauty of nature. In Florida, there’s a 200-foot suspension bridge over water to walk across, as well as an aerial obstacle course that’s fun and challenging.
Empower Adventures offers daytime tours throughout the year.
But the most popular tour for couples is its sunset tour, which is timed so that participants can fly into the horizon as the sun sets. It makes for great pictures and a fun way to work up an appetite before a romantic dinner in Tampa.
It also offers a moonlight tour, which takes place completely in the dark with no lights on the course.
“You’re lit by the moon and the stars, but really mostly by the moon. All you see are the glowsticks on the guests and guide,” Sara said.
For couples who aren’t sure about ziplining, the team offers a smaller experience once a month for most of the year. It is called Friday Fun Day, and the tour covers just half of the zip line plus a walk over the 200-foot suspension bridge. It gives a taste of the action — at a lower price, too.
“It introduces you to a zipline as an adventure and it’s a very unique experience,” Sara said.
Over the years, Empower Adventures has racked up more than 1,300 Google reviews with about a 4.5-star average. Often, people mention the guides by name because they work so hard to make people feel safe and supported during the activity.
“It makes an impact that you don’t realize until it applies to your own life,” Sara said. “The concept of getting out of your comfort zone, it starts to trickle into your personal life and you get out of your comfort zone more often.”
The team often notices how people change from the beginning to the end. Sometimes, participants will be nervous and scared before they start. But when they complete the course, they feel much more confident knowing they can tackle challenging obstacles. They feel like they can overcome anything, Sara said.
“To provide an experience like that is invaluable. It’s so rewarding to do that on a daily basis,” she said.
This year, Empower Adventures is planning to expand in the Tampa Bay area to include stand-up paddleboarding activities with lessons for beginners and tours through the beautiful mangroves in the region.
“Joe is always chasing the next dream to grow and be better,” Sara said. “We have some things we are working on that are top secret for sure.”