First Day Back at the Rock Gym: On Taking a Year and A Half Off From Rock Climbing
|On my new project at PRG East Falls, a dynamic V5, |
feeling thankful that CrossFit translates into climbing!
Normal enough that I wouldn't bother posting, tweeting, or even telling anyone about it because it was a part of my routine. I used to lead climbing events for two Meetup groups. I used to have a membership at the local gym. I used to subscribe to email lists about local bouldering competitions for fear I'd miss one.
But prior to last weekend, I hadn't climbed since December of 2011. In September of 2011, I'd written a post about the ups and downs I was experiencing in climbing motivation with every intention of getting back into it. But I didn't. So what happened? Why did it take me a year and a half to spend a few hours on a sport I used to be completely enamored with?
Though there were/are a number of contributing factors, I stopped climbing because it wasn't fun anymore. The time I spent at the gym felt like work, as if I was forcing myself to go because it was part of my identity as an outdoor lifestyle blogger and as a person.
Because it's what I was expected to do and expected to be excited about. I was supposed to want to fight paralyzing fear on the lead wall. I was supposed to spend hours on Mountain Project looking for routes and coming up with a ticklist. I was supposed to sign up for every bouldering competition I could find. It's what I'd done for the past several years. But it just wasn't fun anymore, as is usually the case when phrases like "supposed to" come into play.
Instead, I found a passion for CrossFit, spent time on activities I was still excited about like hiking and backpacking, and generally focused on things that were and are fun. Back in 2011, I wrote about how I was starting to accept the ebb and flow of my passions, but I don't think I truly understood what that meant until recently. When I heard the Philadelphia Rock Gyms opened a new location this spring, I remembered thinking it could be a great chance to give climbing another try. PRG's two original rock gyms seem as though they were built for boulderers and I always enjoyed trips to both. The new East Falls location was completely free of memories, any associations I had with fear, and acquaintances from my climbing past who'd ask why it had been so long. It was pressure-free and perfect.
When I walked into PRG East Falls last weekend to boulder for the first time in a year and a half, I was nervous. Would my body remember what to do? Would I enjoy climbing at all? Would I enjoy it so much that I'd want to fully immerse myself in it again?
|Matthew captured this shot of me climbing and smiling at the same time!|
|Matthew hamming it up toward the end of our session.|
I found bouldering to be the perfect balance between getting my feet far enough off the ground to scare me out of my comfort zone, but still keeping them close enough to enjoy the pure movement.
A few warmup problems later, I started to remember what it felt like to enjoy that pure movement and was looking for new projects to try. I was having a blast. I was scared every time my feet left the ground, but the fear started to feel familiar and eventually, I barely noticed it. I climbed until I could hardly hold on to my water bottle - the hallmark of a truly successful day. I don't see myself climbing three or four times a week like I used to; I'm completely cool with the idea of being a once-in-a-while climber, maybe taking it outside when the weather's good. It's nice to know that even after walking away from the sport, I can still come back to it when I'm ready and approach it in a new way.
Have you gone through ups and downs with climbing, or another sport you're passionate about? I'd love to hear your experiences in the comments!