About three and a half years ago I began climbing. A friend of mine asked me to come with him to try this sport out called ‘Bouldering’ at a place that had recently opened in Milton Keynes. I asked him what this ‘Bouldering thing’ was. He proceeded to describe to me a really odd form of exercise that combined problem solving with an explosive full body workout. We went to a demo climbing session at this place where an instructor showed us how to use our feet, arms, back, core, brain…pretty much everything to climb. I realised after about half an hour of this that I was going to be hooked.
I was stuck in a plateau for quite a while but I finally feel like progress has resumed. It wasn’t easy though, I’ve really worked hard on my weaknesses lately. Flexibility in particular does not come naturally to me, but also learning how to apply core tension to stick to the wall, weight my toes, shift my centre of balance.
Since my youth, I’ve always suffered from Claustrophobia. A specific type where I get extremely anxious in locked spaces. As a kid, there were situations that were really hard for me to deal with. As an adult, I’ve developed much more control over it than I used to, though its still there – that irrational fear that has had a lasting impact on certain aspects of my life, preventing me from doing things that I’ve wanted to do in the past.
I’ve always hated the idea of having boundaries like this. Especially ones that, as a logical person, you think to yourself, this just doesn’t makes sense! There is no reason to be scared here!
Because of this, I’ve learnt to always challenge myself, my thoughts, to not accept defeat. Don’t let fear or irrational thoughts tell you that you can’t do something.
Climbing gives me a way of breaking my boundaries, of challenging myself, both mentally and physically.
Sometimes I will struggle with a climb, not making it to the top. Then later on see someone come over and walk up it with little trouble. I’ve always found these moments both humbling and inspiring because it makes me think, it IS possible.. I just haven’t unlocked that door yet. Whether it be physical or mental, I want to unlock that door. I want to show myself that I can.
And do I get stressed? Sure. Everyone has those days where something throws you off balance.
What I’ve found is that climbing is a good indicator of how I’m feeling at that point in time. I’ll have days where I’m in the flow – I’m happy, relaxed, focused, climbing feels natural, even easy. I can take on anything.
Likewise, when tired or stressed, I’ll feel like I’m just not able to give 100%, and it sucks.
For me, climbing doesn’t really change the way I feel, it more re-affirms it.
I’m sure its no big surprise to anyone that might read this that I’m a competitive guy. This mostly manifests as an internal competition against myself.
It’s a great feeling to smash personal barriers and do things that you didn’t think you could do, or couldn’t do a few months ago. It allows me to remember that what I think I’m capable of is not truly what I’m capable of. I don’t like the feeling of having limitations so love to prove myself wrong – climbing is great for this!
Climbing has made me tougher, more focused, more determined and just an all-round happier person.
Climbing is very important to me. I love lunging my way up holds, cheering on friends or trying to conquer an odd shaped rock somewhere out in the beautiful backdrop of Yorkshire (or sometimes out in the middle of nowhere, with no reception or map!).
I suppose it is important because it keeps me happy and healthy. I feel like it has led to a better quality of life where I’ve met some great people. It inspires me to do bigger and better things, to set myself new and exciting challenges.
I find one of the best things about climbing is the culture and people involved in the sport.
It seems to attract some of the most interesting, lovely, crazy, warm and open minded people I’ve ever met.
I’ve got so many fond memories of times with friends in the outdoors – climbing, camping, road tripping across France, getting stuck down a dodgy road late at night, getting wet and cold in a tent in Wales, getting sun burnt in the Peaks, falling down (a lot), getting up (a lot), just to name a few….
The people make climbing special for me.