Question: When was the last time you went rock climbing? Maybe not since Galyan’s existed?
Over the past few months, I’ve been a regular climber at Brooklyn Boulders (BKB) in the West Loop. It’s given me a place to be physical, work, eat, chill, and meet new people. The climber community is special and very tight knit. The language is unique. The family is welcoming.
BKB is a giant mecca of fun: climbing, yoga studio, workout facility, slacklines, ping pong tables, you name it. It also has a space for tables to work at, which has given me a space to be creative (…off the wall).
The first day I walked in to boulder (think shorter wall, no harness), I barely accomplished a V2. Each wall is graded related to its difficulty - V0 is the easiest and it goes up from there. I could barely feel my hands afterward and my forearms were sore for two weeks. I was hooked.
I’m now comfortably completing V4’s, but stuck on V5’s. Climbing is an interesting combination of strength and skill, like much of everything that is a skill in life. Even if you can do 50 strict pull-ups, it doesn’t guarantee you a successful route up a difficult problem. It’s also how to grip, where to step, how to hang, and when to breathe.
That’s why I love climbing so much. Everyone climber is unique in both their physical and mental approach to the wall. Our bodies have different sizes, shapes, and capabilities. Our minds approach these puzzles with different visualization, especially mid-climb. It gets me out of my head and into my body where nothing matters at the time except not failing and not falling.
Everyone, whether you’re Chris Sharma, Alex Honnold, or just plain old you, has a fear of falling. The first time I stepped up to the bouldering wall, I lifted off the floor and immediately death squeezed the first hold (probably why I was so sore)…just three inches off the mat. Over time, that voice gets quieter and quieter, however, it never fully goes away. It drives you further up the wall, with more confidence, as you flex that skill - fear conquering.
I love watching new climbers shed the timidness they walk in with. They realize they’re stronger than they give themselves credit for. Apply a little technique to this newfound confidence and they're usually rewarded with a smile at the top of the route. When I’m giving advice to someone new to climbing, this is the ultimate reward.
To me, climbing is a place where you get to feel like a little kid again. Unrestricted movement, play, laughter, and taking risks. You get to be creative, add healthy stress (your heart rate will go up when climbing the first few times) while taking away negative stress (through physical activity), meet and play with other awesome people who share a passion, and get really strong in the process.
Who wants to go climbing?