Have you had any outrageous requests from clients?
There was an Eastern European woman who booked lessons with me. I had to pick her up from her chalet – this huge beautiful place with two doberman guarding it. She was very bling. Everyday was a different outfit, different hairstyle. She wasn’t a bad skiier, but she liked everything being done for her.
One day we were skiing and came into a white out. She got a bit nervous and threw a wobbly. Actually quite a big wobbly. All of a sudden, she hated me and wanted another instructor – bearing in mind we’re at the top of a mountain in a white out.
She said to me, “you’ve got to order a taxi”. I said we can’t get taxis up here. There was only one way down. Twenty minutes later when we were back in the restaurant, I was back to being the best instructor in the world.
Do you need any particular qualifications to be a mountain bodyguard?
You need to have the ski instructor and Close Protection qualifications obviously, but it’s not just about being a good instructor.
You need to have good rapport with clients from all different cultures. You have to be able to deal with crying kids and spoilt kids.
I get guys emailing me saying they’re good fighters. That’s not a good thing to be, because that’s not what we are. We’re their to protect people and anticipate things before they happen.
What’s the best part of your job?
It’s forever changing. You get to meet a whole spectrum of people. One week, I’ll be teaching a plumber from London. Next week, it will be a Russian billionaire and his kids. I’ve always loved the mountains. It’s great that the mountains are now my office.
And the worst?
There isn’t really a downside. It’s rare to get clients who are really obnoxious or a bit of an arsehole. Often you’ll get really crazy people skiing dangerously down the slope near my clients.
I do end up having to raise my voice and make them understand the errors of their ways. But that’s not really a downside.
I get paid well, I meet some great people. Sometimes I’ll hear instructors complaining when they’ve had an annoying client. I just think I’m so privileged to work here. There are far worse things than doing this.
For more information about Michael’s business, alongside tips about “conquering fear and panic”, check out his Facebook Page, Mason Survival: Functional Combatives, Functional Fitness.