Fear Of Falling - Birthday Style
In an effort to stick with my “healthyish” living goals, I wanted to do something physical for my birthday that didn’t involve food and drinks. That’s typically difficult to do in in a social setting. If my birthday weren’t in December, right in the middle of holiday season, then I probably wouldn’t care so much about a couple of days of indulgent eating (because a birthday is never just a day), but with all of the holiday parties and gingerbread cookies abundantly available in my office, I wanted to keep myself in check.
I was intrigued with rock climbing because it seemed daredevil enough but not too ambitious. I wanted to title this post something like “Angela tries extreme sports,” but was quickly humbled upon learning that outdoor rock climbing that is extreme, and NOT indoor. So there goes that.
I decided to play it safe and ask my fitness-minded firefighter cousin to go rock climbing with me. I knew he would be down to spend $50 (rock climbing, equipment and training) without the promise of fatty foods and well drinks. My husband came too, but he was more interested in giving moral support than actually climbing. No harm, no foul.
When I arrived at the climbing gym, I was required to sign a liability waiver that was a few pages too long. I did not read it in its entirety, but in summary, it said something about how if I were to get injured or die while there, it was solely my fault and solely my problem. Alright, cool. I filled out the forms with my personal information, provided an emergency contact, and then signed my life away.
I saw kids climbing the walls with ease and immediately fooled myself into thinking that I was about to scale the wall like Spider-man. Skrrrt. On the contrary, rock climbing was quite challenging and definitely more physically and mentally demanding than I thought it’d be.
Challenge #1: Trusting the Belayer
This is not a sport that I would try with just anybody. There is some technique involved in belaying, so I’d suggest finding an attentive partner who listens to AND follows directions. The belayer is responsible for keeping the rope taut enough so that that if the climber slips, he or she will not fall a great distance. The belayer is also responsible for feeding the rope to lower the climber back down to the floor after finishing the climb. There were walls where I could’ve climbed higher if I were confident that the rope would be tight enough to keep me from falling. The higher I climbed, the less I trusted my cousin.
Challenge #2: Trusting Myself
I didn’t trust that I was strong enough to keep climbing and often second-guessed my attempts to climb higher. Rock climbing involves pulling yourself up with your arms, and lifting your body with your legs. Just staying in one place requires strength and balance. My arms easily became weak. If I saw that a climbing hold was somewhat out of reach, I didn’t even try to grab it. I became nervous that if my reach was unsuccessful, I’d offset my balance and fall.
Challenge #3: Full Body Workout
Climbing incorporates the whole body and tested my strength, agility, endurance and flexibility. I had to pull and lift myself. I needed to be efficient as not to waste energy balancing myself when that energy could be used for actually climbing. Unable to quickly coordinate my thoughts and movements, I wasted time in tough spots trying to decide what to grab and what direction to go and my muscles fatigued. I had to be able to reach and secure a good grasp of holds. This was one of the most involved workouts I’ve ever participated in.
So I had a few takeaways bringing in my 2_th birthday:
- I tried something new and I really enjoyed. You never how much you may like something if you don’t give it a go.
- There are unlimited ways to get physical and work out. We can add some variety to our exercise routines by thinking outside of the box sometimes.
- I have changed my workout goals to be more inclusive of building upper-body strength. I don’t want to be so focused on having a flat stomach and a toned lower body that I shortchange my upper body.
- Maybe I have a few more pounds to lose. LOL. I remember reading up on tips to be able to do pull-ups (ultimate goal). One of the tips simply stated that it’s easier to lift yourself at a lower mass. Point taken.
Climbing is one activity where I can appreciate the cliché:’ “it’s not the about the destination, it’s about the journey.” I never did make it to the top of those walls. Well, I did make it up one wall, but it was very sloped, so therefore it was easier to climb because… physics. I digress.
Although I didn’t make it to the top of most walls, I did make some progress. Challenging myself both physically and mentally made the journey and an odd choice of birthday activity well worth it.
What new physical activities have you guys tried?
P.S. This workout was followed up with 2 slices of pineapple pizza and 2 glasses of too-sweet moscato to match. I deserved.