Rock Climbing: Yoga On The Wall

by justine

Last Tuesday H and I went to a beginner rock climbing class at a local gym. For $45 each we were given a two-hour lesson, with time to climb afterwards.

By the time we left that night, I was hooked.

I’ve climbed 3 more times in the past week. Each time I love it more and can’t wait to go again.

It feels like the perfect activity for me right now b/c it’s all about flow. When you’re climbing you have a sense of your own skill and limitations against the ratings of the routes. I guess this is part of climbing culture, but everyone I know who climbs says that, at the very core, it’s all about problem solving.

When you’re on the wall it’s just your brain and your body, solving problems. Where to go, how to get there, pushing your feet a certain way or gripping your hand just right. It asks me to be both mentally focused and intuitive in my next move.

Our trainer at the first class went straight for my heart when he said “I can’t wait to see you climbing after a few weeks of practice because you get it. You’re intuitive about it, you just need some experience and technique”.

It’s crazy b/c I thought I would like climbing, but I never found a class to attend. It took H signing us up for me to go.

Which is another awesome thing about it for me – it requires two people (if you prefer a human-, vs auto-, belay situation, which I think most people do). So this is something H and I can do together, but it’s still a singular activity.

I don’t really do well in group situations. I much prefer to have it be me against the task, not me working with others against others. Most of the things I like to do (run, read, yoga, take photos, write) are solo pursuits. I love enjoying hobbies with other people – attending a class with friends or running with another person – but it’s us about us having a parallel experience. They’re on their mat, and I’m on mine.

With climbing it’s sort of that, except there is an element of team work since H is belaying me, and sometimes coaching me, and I can do the same for him. We act more like support staff or cheerleaders, rather than direct teammates. This suits me really well and also gives H and I something fun to do together.

In short, it feels like yoga on the wall – it encourages me to be stronger, to rise to challenges, to actually try and possibly fail (and fall, though luckily H keeps the tension on tight). With all of the up and down moods of the past few weeks – coming down off of that crazy stretch of events – I am really loving this challenging and fun experience. And the best part – there’s nothing like working a route and making it to that top hold, touching the bar, knowing you made it – just your muscles, clinging to bones, hanging onto handholds, 25 feet off the ground.