Yesterday, I had one of the best workouts in a LONG time. It tested me in so many ways - it forced me to overcome my fear of heights and overcome insecurities about stepping completely outside of my comfort zone.
My dear friend, Kolena and her husband, Tanner, are the definition of outdoorsy. They spend every weekend somewhere amazing hiking, skiing, camping, snow camping or climbing. Literally. They live to be outside doing something adventurous. So when they invited me to go climbing with them, I figured, if I'm going to do this, might as well go with a bunch of Pros!
I have been climbing a few times in my 20s. I don't have a good reason for not doing it more often. Well, except for my fear of heights and lack of friends who do it. We all know I'm all about the social aspect of working out so if I don't have a friend that's into it, it's hard for me to keep going back. I was excited to go with Kolena and Tanner, but I was definitely a bit apprehensive.
When I walked into Vertical World in Ballard, I was speechless. I have never seen a space like it and it was packed with people. I don't do well with crowds so put me in a place where I have to deal with heights and crowds and I'm pretty much looking for any excuse to bow out. Unfortunately, you don't bow out on Kolena and Tanner. You just don't. So I took a deep breath and tried to focus on remembering that this was an opportunity to hang out with friends and see a glimpse of their world. They love to climb so it was important for me to at least see them in their element.
Tanner and Kolena are natural teachers. They do a great job of walking you through things stop by step, they are more patient than anyone you will meet and they are forever optimistic. So they walked me through putting on the gear, laid out the basic safety rules and we headed to an area.
I know nothing about climbing (clearly) so excuse the very basic information I'm about to share. There are two large climbing areas in Vertical World with multiple courses. Each course is numbered to indicate how difficult it is and all the rocks throughout the course are colored the same - the idea being you should stay on course by following the colors. For obvious safety reasons, you cannot belay unless you are experienced or have passed the test. Clearly I was not able to do this so Kolena and Tanner each took turns belaying each other and then me.
Kolena went first to show me the way and she made it look so easy. She swiftly and very easy moved from one area to another, swinging her body and moving her legs and arms naturally. Watching her made me realize how much of a 'sport' this is. You have to be agile, strong and have a confidence in your ability to move through each challenge. I was hooked just watching her and knowing I wanted to be like her. Then it was my turn... I think it's safe to say I didn't look half as good as Kolena.
Those of you who know me would never use the words graceful, agile or deft to describe me. It's just not who I am. Tanner set me up and let me have at it. Of course the first 3 inches off the ground are easy. No doubt you feel confident you can get it done. Then you look up and it feels like it is going to take miles to get to the top. The hardest part was trying not to overthink things. I tried to calculate each move based on how sturdy the next grip would be for both my hands and feet. Naturally, I was constantly looking for the larger ones and pretty much ignoring the smaller ones. I felt pretty confident getting up the first few sets. The movement is anything but natural to me but I loved how strong I felt and how my entire body was shaking. I had been up there for a few minutes and was confident I was going to make it to the top. I looked down at Kolena and Tanner and realized I was only 6 feet off the ground. I guess progress is better than nothing.
I only got in 3 climbs that night. But it was the most intense full body workout I have had in a very VERY long time. My forearms, back, core and legs were put to the test and I loved EVERY minute of it. But what I loved most was the mental challenge. There were so many times when I wanted to just give up and jump down but I had to remind myself to put my fears and doubts to the side, take a deep breathe and just give it a chance. I realized just how much you can get in your own head and be your worst enemy.
I will definitely be back and highly recommend this type of a workout for people who are looking for a full body workout with a mental challenge. Find a friend who is experienced or take a class! This definitely is not a workout I would recommend you do without some coaching.
Thank you, Kolena and Tanner for a AMAZING intro to Climbing!!