A few weeks ago I visited Movement Climbing + Fitness in the Baker neighborhood.
My friends, Kristen & Jeff, are avid climbers and have been encouraging me to give it a go.
Sidebar: Kristen is a rockstar clothing designer and owns her own atelier, Imminent Rise.
I’ve always enjoyed fitness and I crave new challenges but never have I been challenged in this capacity. As an athlete, my strong suit has always been my legs which I presume comes from years of playing soccer which I then parlayed into skeleton. My upper body strength, specifically grip strength, has always been my weakness.
When climbing, while you use your legs, core, upper body and arms to propel you upward, your hands play a crucial role. Climbing is a tactile sport. Each wall has a collection of color-coded holds that not only denote the course you’re climbing but are commensurate with the degree of difficulty of that run. For example, lower-rated (re: easier) courses have larger, more ergonomic holds while the higher-rated (re: harder) courses feature holds that are nothing more than a bump on a wall.
During the three-hour climbing session I really enjoyed the challenge of learning how to navigate each of the different courses. Each hold was a new puzzle that required you to feel, both texturally and tactually, your way through the obstacle. With chalked fingertips, sometimes I could wrap my hand around the hold but other times I could do nothing more than pinch it. There were even occasions where, for my skill level, a hold was completely irrelevant for my hands but presented a landing platform for my foot.
Afterward, and for the next three days, my forearms burned. And, although I never matched the skill level or coolness of Tom Cruise and Sylvester Stallone, the experience gave me a new appreciation not only for climbing, but the emphasis of touch and dexterity as it relates to success in the sport.