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“Big dissapointment!”

Freedive Gili and Gili Yoga
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: Freediving is the ultimate way to experience the underwater world! At Freedive Gili we teach you to hold your breath and dive free of tanks and bulky equipment, gliding down in silent weightlessness, all in the warm clear tropical waters of Gili Trawangan just East of Bali. Gili Yoga also gives you the opportunity to awaken your mind and body through yoga in one of our daily daily classes set in a beautiful shala in the heart of the island. Our shop an shala are situated at the harbour and are easily found on arrival.
Reviewed December 9, 2013

Me and my girlfriend joined a 2-day freedive course at freedive gili in september 2013. We did scuba diving two years ago, but had no experience at all with freediving. We were hoping to learn correct breathing and relaxation techniques in order to feel comfortable with being under the water without any oxygen. We had big expectations, but sadly the course was a major dissapointment. Even though we knew it would be a group course, we didn't expect more than 4 people to be in a group. Our group consisted of 7 people! Furthermore, the main lesson simply was "if you feel like you're out of air, you're actually not, it's still okay to be under the water for a while". We did learn a new breathing technique, but we practised this technique for about 30 minutes in their yoga studio and then got the chance to practise it ONCE in their pool. No time to get more comfortable with the new way of breathing or even to practise equalizing ears and mask. After the pool we went straight into the open sea. There, we all had to hang on a buoy and take turns in practising going down. While someone was going down, others had to prepare themselves by applying the new breathing technique. The water wasn't calm at all, so it was very hard to try staying at the buoy and relaxing at the same time. Also, because the water wasn't calm there often was water coming into the snorkel, which was very unpleasant and also didn't help with trying to relax. Because we were hanging still at the buoy for a long time people started to get cold quick, which also made it hard to relax. The dive shop didn't have enough long wetsuits for everybody in the group. Day 2 we went back into the open sea for doing basically the same as the day before, but at a different spot. Again, the water wasn't calm enough to practise, but we went in anyway. And even two more people joined the course, so it was even more crowded at the buoy and an even longer waiting time to go down yourself... Several hours waiting of just hanging at a buoy in open water to have a few minutes to give the freediving a try (3 or 4 times). Even though we were struggling the day before, we barely got the time to practise.
There is clearly no point in booking this course in advance and paying half the course fee upfront, since they apparently allow an unlimited amount of people...
We feel this freedive course is really for people who already have a lot of experience with snorkeling and freediving themselves and just want to obtain the freedive certificate. In my opinion, it's an expensive certficate that just states something you already can do. This course is not about learning a new skill at all, because the course was not designed for people who didn't know how to do it already. The instructors didn't put in any extra effort to make sure everybody on the course would make it. All their instructions were group instructions rather than individual ones and they were basically just there to judge whether or not you could do it.
The too large groupesize, the low quality level of the instructors and the too rough sea conditions made this feel like a big rip-off to us. Big dissapointment!

4  Thank A'V N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Freedivemike, Manager at Freedive Gili and Gili Yoga, responded to this reviewResponded December 11, 2013

Thank you for taking the time to write this review and I am really sorry to hear that you were not happy with your experience here. I have to say that Freediving is nothing like scuba diving and many people arrive with expectations of an experience similar to that on a scuba course. Breath-holding can be more difficult in many ways, even the idea of it evokes anxiety to most, and then on top of that equalization is more difficult as you descend faster in a head-down position, and the volume of air available to equalize with gets smaller as you descend (which is again different from scuba where the volume of air available remains constant). These factors can lead to great frustration if you are finding it difficult. The course is two days long as this is the time that people seem willing to dedicate to a first level freediving course. In these two days you have to learn all the foundation techniques and knowledge and then get comfortable with them. Everyone gains that comfort at a different speed and although everyone will undoubtedly get better if given the time to keep practicing diving and employing the skills we cannot guarentee that everyone will acheive this during the two day duration of the course, but students can always do additional days of diving to practice with us if they have time. You mentioned that you expected the group size to be be four people but we did not indicate at any stage that this was the case. You also mentioned with some disdain that the main lesson seemed to be that "if you feel like you're out of air, you're actually not, it's still okay to be under the water for a while". This is one of the main lessons. The feeling of being out of air is actually the feeling of the build up of carbondioxide in your body, which your body wants to get rid of. This is what stimulates that strong 'urge to breathe'. This is an important realization because as long as you are not over-breathing before the dive, this feeling of wanting to breathe does not mean that you are low on oxygen, the condition that actually does effect your safety. We emphasize this constantly because we want you to not tense up and get stressed underwater when you first feel the urge to breath, because you still have plenty of time to ascend to the surface calmly. It is an important lesson.
You mentioned that you were introduced to the breathing at first in the yoga hall, and then in the pool before going out on the open water session and that you did not feel there was enough time to practice it before going in the water. We try to provide as much time as we can in the morning to introduce the techniques but we also want to get students doing it in the water, both pool and ocean, as much as we can. Most students do not want to spend hours breathing on land when they could be doing it in water and actually freediving, so we have to strike a balance. Of course students can and should practice the breathing techniques as much as possible outside of class time to get comfortable but not all students want to use up the instructional class time with this.
You have also mentioned that the water was not calm and that you kept getting water in your snorkel. September this year did have some pretty choppy surface conditions caused by the wind and I agree that this can make it difficult for some people to be relaxed in the open water. This is probably a major factor contributing to your experience and one that we have little control over. You said that the "water wasn't calm enough but we went out diving anyway". Unfortunately we cannot postpone dive sessions as students have to go out and dive in the open water. We do try to pick the best and most sheltered locations for the day, but ultimately we have to accept what the sea gives us. Getting water in your snorkel is also part of freediving and something we have to learn to deal with especially in choppy conditions. You said that you were hanging around in the water for several hours and only dived 3-4 times. I think you are recalling this slightly inaccurately as our open water dive sessions are no longer 2 to 2.5 hours and in this time you would definitely get more than 3-4 dives, however the fact that you could not relax because of the conditions understandably led to frustration at it not being the experience that you wanted or expected. With regards to long wetsuits we only provide 3mm shorties as this is usually fine for tropical waters throughout the year. None of the 15 other dive shops on the island provide long wetsuits either but students can bring their own equipment to use on the course if they are more comfortable using their own gear.
You suggested that the course was not aimed at beginners and that it was for experienced divers who just want the certificate. This is not true. The course is a first level 'Freediving course'. It does not guarantee you will reach a specific level by the end but it does teach you all the basic techniques, theory and safety considerations required to start off in this sport. After this, practice and experience is what will yield results. It can be challenging, and this is why many people choose it over scuba diving. The sea conditions at the time of your visit probably made it a lot harder for you to learn and had you had perfect flat conditions you may have had a totally different experience, but this is not something in our control, and we teach and dive all year round here in the Gilis.
The reason why we ask for a deposit of 50% to guarentee a place on the course before you arrive is that we have had many people book courses in the past and not show up. It is actually totally normal to require people to pay in full to book a course in any other type of activity as why would you book something and then not pay for it unless you are not really sure that you want to do it? You are totally entitled to believe that the course was a 'rip off' and of course to explain why here, as you have done, but many of our former students would disagree as can also be seen here.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviews (177)
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Reviewed December 1, 2013

We diverted from our usual surf trip to Kuta Lombok to complete the level 1 freedive course with Freedive Gili and it was a worthy diversion. We spent 4 nights in the clean and comfortable bungalows onsite and were not disappointed. It is a small haven amongst the hustle and bustle of the island.
The free dive course was very informative, well run and so interesting. Our instructor Nat did an awesome job in not only providing knowledge and expertise but sharing her passion for everything the course embodys (the ocean, yoga, breathing and physiology....).
A really friendly and relaxing place to spend a couple of days, I highly recommend paying these guys a visit for yoga and free diving.

Thank Rachel D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 29, 2013

I came to Gili T with no plans. My buddy had his scuba cert and was planning on diving the entire time. I went in to the dive shop asking about scuba certs when the guy in the office started talking about freediving. I was immediately intrigued. I went to Freedive Gili the next day and I signed up immediately. The next two days were filled with learning, fun, diving, and laughing with new friends. I can’t express how awesome my time at freedive gili was. Not to mention, the instructors are preeeeeetty cute… Thanks Nat!!!


Thank Joshua F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 29, 2013

I completed the level 1 freedive course in 2012, and was so impressed by the training that I returned again to complete level 2 in November 2013. I cannot speak highly enough about this place and recommend it to anyone interested in swimming/surfing/anything water based and who wants to learn more about the fascinating subject that is freediving.

The venue is simple, clean and built for purpose (excellent yoga studia and 25m pool). The training is informative, professional, and the instructors are friendly and willing to help. My most recent level 2 course (Nov 2013) was run by Nat, and her enthusiasm and passion for freediving is infectious. She was a very very good teacher, both patient and inspiring confidence in the group, and always ensuring that safety was the number one priority when in the pool or in the sea. A real credit to Freedive Gili.
Although I did not have the chance to train with other instructors, it was clear to see that they too are a friendly, down to Earth and professional bunch. Their credentials speak for themselves in the freediving world, but it is their friendly and accomodating approach which will stay with you.

I am already looking forward to my next visit to Freedive Gili in 2014.

Thank zebedee23
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 15, 2013

Gili Yoga part of Freedive Gili offers really great drop in yoga classes. Held in the morning at 7:30 and at 5:30 in the evening, the property and classes offer a haven of peace and serenity in an otherwise bustling location. The yoga studio is a large, clean, open aired, fan cooled studio set well away from the noisy street. Mats and blocks are available to borrow. Kate the owner and one of the yoga instructors is an inspiring teacher. It was a real highlight of my visit to the island. Although I did not stay at the property, it looked really nice and well run. Definitely worth considering as the you get really good vibe included.

Thank Desi S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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