29 February 2012

Climbing the walls...

No exercise is a dangerous thing. It can lead to issues like psedentary psychosis (symptoms include: distorted body image, sagging sense of self-worth, premature aging, unhealthful food cravings, impulsively needing to do out-of-character activities...). No endorphins, no cleansing sweat, no vigorously pounding heart... it all amounts to no good.

My health issues of late have made running more than just the normal amount challenging. And the bike isn't as much fun at night as running is. I've been crawling out of my skin over here...climbing the walls. Yesterday, I decided I was tired of feeling old, fat, slow and in pain (fine, argue with me...but I'm not listening...psedentary psychosis). I decided that I needed to do something that scared the crap outta myself...but it had to be something that wasn't going to leave my children motherless and my husband wifeless. So running blindfolded across the freeway wasn't an option. Nor was playing chicken with a speeding BART train.

Every day on the way to and from my kids' school, I drive by a gym. It isn't just a gym...it's a climbing gym. I don't know what made yesterday different from any other day before it, but yesterday I suddenly got a bug up my butt to go try this...

I did one of these climbing wall deals once a long time ago at a kid's birthday party...and it totally freaked me out. I was fine on the going up part, but when I got to the top and turned around to see the dude holding the rope for me down on the ground, I freaked the F out. I had to close my eyes while they lowered me down. I wanted a drink...and I don't even drink.

But yesterday the Try This NOW bug found me...and bit me hard.

I called my husband. "Honey, I'm going to an Intro Climbing class tonight at 7:30. You'll need to put everyone to bed tonight. Okay?" He said that would be fine (of course he had to ... he still owes me for that 12-day solo trip to France he took last summer).

When 7:30 rolled around, I was sitting there in Berkeley Ironworks, a little nervous.

I had to put on this harness thing...

...and weird shoes...

...and learn how to tie knots...

"First you make a loop...that's the ex-boyfriend's head. 
Then you wrap the rope around his neck and poke him in the eye with the end of the rope. 
Then you pull the rope tight. " 

After that, you 'trace' the knot so that it's doubled and it ends up looking like this...

Then you take the end of the rope and tie a fisherman's knot...

Those are some of the things the person going UP the wall needs to do to get ready.

This is the person standing on the ground holding onto the rope that can save the climber's life...

...and they have their own set of instructions that they must know to perform their function properly...to keep the climber safe. The rope goes into the belay device a certain way, the slack always needs to be taken up, the carabiner must be locked...lots of important stuff.

In the Intro Climbing class last night, I learned both ends of the deal. The instructor was very thorough and nice...even when I kept screwing up my knots. Safety is of tantamount importance. She patiently helped me get them right. And then she let us climb the walls.

What I learned:
  • as long as I don't look down, I don't get scared. 
  • being the belayer is really stressful! 
  • my upper body is pathetically weak.
  • having trust that your belayer has you makes it so much easier!
  • keeping your arms straight and just hanging is helpful.
  • you use legs more than I thought.
  • climbing uses a whole lot of muscles I didn't remember I had...my whole body is sore.
  • I really like it...even though it freaks me out.

The place has more than just the walls for climbing. It is a gym. There are treadmills, weights, classes...

I need a change. I need something to be excited about. I need a new adventure to take on.

I joined the gym.

Happy Leap Day :)


  1. Are you SO sore? I haven't climbed in ages but I definitely remember a very severe ache under my armpits and through my upper arms after a trek or three up the rocks. Love that you found a new challenge because yes, no endorphins is a VERY VERY VERY bad thing

  2. That is so awesome! I so admire your ambition. And now I WILL get up at walk the darn dog!

  3. That's AWESOME!!!!! Talk about getting out of a comfort zone, and totally reaping benefits. I hope this is a new chapter for you, and definitely one that will fill your 'high' void. I really want to do this as well. We'll see :)

  4. Yeah! I am glad you joined!

    I like it that you are spontaneous :)

    I am doing something similar since I can't run much.

    I am so happy for you!!!

  5. LOVE it!
    I've wanted to try climbing for awhile... a friend got me a gift certificate to a San Diego climbing gym about a month before I moved away from San Diego! (Drat!) But I still have the certificate. I think I'm going to cash it in next month. :)

  6. That looks like so much fun! Great job! I have always wanted to try rock climbing but never wanted people to see me if I messed up. The knot tying would be my undoing. You have inspired me to try it. Thanks!

  7. I tried rock climbing some years ago and loved it. I wish I had more time to pursue it. Maybe my hubby owes me some favors too... hmm...
    Have fun!
    And I totally agree that biking at night is not as much fun as running.

  8. woo hoo!!!Way to snap out of the funk...Isn't it amazing what leap year can do? I climbed once and couldn't move the next day...keep us posted!

  9. I repelled in the Army but never did actually rock climb. I want to do this with my family. Glad you did it!

  10. "On belay"

    "Belay on"


    "Climb Away"

    I used to say that a lot. My favorite climbs were fairly easy slabs that took many hours and many pitches to complete, like an all day thing. I once was in a party that was just ahead of a party that included David Breashears, that was cool.

  11. What a fun change of pace! Now you can buy a whole new seat of climbing gear too :-).

  12. Love it all!! I'm kinda afraid of heights and yet I would love to go climbing like that! And how spontaneously awesome to join the gym! Good for you!

  13. That is so cool. I didn't even know that existed. Way to add adventure to the gym.

  14. soooo awesome! The entire first paragraph I was nodding in agreement with everything you wrote because it's EXACTLY how I've been feeling. Way to get out of your comfort zone and try something new!

  15. Hey, that looks like fun! I've always wanted to try rock climbing. Glad you took the "leap" (and on leap day too!) :)

  16. Good for you for being brave and trying this!!!!!!!!!!!! Love that you got out of your comfort zone big time.

  17. OH MY GOODNESS.....we absolutely love to go to the climbing gym but you are right...it can be scary. It is such a killer workout and my upper body is super weak too, must be because we focus so much on our lower body. I am so happy you tried something new. I hear ya, the bike just isn't the same as running. I hope things get better for you dear friend! Thinking about you.

  18. Cool! I did the same thing in January, but at Bridges in El Cerrito. I haven't climbed yet, I've been taking classes and using the treadmills and machines, but I want to take an intro to climbing class, and do that too. The walls are not as high as Ironworks though... Let me know if you want to try out Bridges, I can give you a free guest pass.


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