I think I heard nearly two years ago about the climbing gym that would open in late 2014, just four blocks from our house. Ever since hearing this news, I was on pins and needles waiting for the first glimpse inside — scouring the gym’s facebook page and even taking detours on my running route with Olive to try and peer through the construction and imagine the routes and amenities that would await.
When the doors finally opened, Anthony and I didn’t even hesitate to cancel our other gym membership downtown and pay immediately for a year in full — knowing that the proximity and offerings couldn’t be beat. And we couldn’t have been more right. Not only has it already paid itself off and then some with the amount of times we’ve frequented the place in just the past 4 months, but it’s also given us an incredible new hobby that we’ve been able to enjoy together.
Now, when I say “hobby”, at this point it may be a bit of an understatement. Anyone who is close to us might be a little tired of hearing us talk about climbing, but at this point we’re just so dang excited! I can’t even explain how much of a game-changer this gym has been for us. We’ve both kept a constant focus on exercise and fitness over the years, to varying degrees, but this is the first time we have found something that we both absolutely love, that we can do together. While I’ve had snowboarding, running, swimming and barre, Anthony’s been more focused on mountain biking, kayaking, snowshoeing and heavy lifting when at the gym. We both will go out on a hike to enjoy Colorado’s scenery, but that generally involves a bit of a drive and the rare, plan-free weekend morning or afternoon.
However, with the re-introduction of this sport that we had tried a handful of times before, we have the ability to both go at our own pace, each choosing routes that work with our individual skill levels, and cheer each other on several times a week. We get through our Mondays knowing that we’ll get to climb after work, taking the short bike ride over to the gym to conquer some of our challenges. We’ve both made marked improvement — more quickly than I had expected — and get a thrill out of making our way up the wall on routes that just a few weeks before would’ve seemed impossible.
Personally, I can literally feel myself getting stronger, both physically and — sometimes even more so — psychologically. There is almost always one point in every route when everything in me says to give up. It’s too hard, I won’t make it to the top, I’ve gone far enough, might as well quit now. Early on, I gave into that emotion often, and when I made it back to the ground I would kick myself for not trying just one more time to push upward. As I’ve gained more confidence, as well as perseverance, I’ve been able to force myself past that inevitable point more often, finding myself capable of much more than I ever expected.
Just tonight, for instance, I tried a route that had foiled me on 4 prior instances. There was one section that I just couldn’t seem to get past — an inverted ridge with the next hand-hold just past my reach. Every time I entered the gym, I’d watch people get caught up in the same place as I had so many times before, and I was determined to beat it before they took the route down to re-set it into a different configuration. But tonight, on my fifth try, I finally found the right footing and the burst of strength that I needed in order to get past my trouble spot, and triumphantly (and exhaustedly!) made it to the top. That sense of accomplishment, and the accompanying adrenaline, is enough to start anyone’s week off on the right foot.
While we still have our individual workout goals — I hit the gym bright and early every day so that I can still get in a run or a spin class, and Anthony still fits in strength training away the climbing wall — and passions for mountain sports here in this outdoor athlete’s holy land, I can see climbing continuing to be a big part of our lives here. Our goals continue to evolve as we see what our bodies are capable of, and we hope to be able to transition these new skills to the outdoors as soon as possible. In the meantime, our standing date at the climbing gym 3-4 times a week is one that we’ll both continue to keep and look forward to. And if you ask what we’ve been up to lately, and we give our new standard response of “well, we’ve been climbing a lot” — you’ll know why!