One thing I always make sure to tell folks who’ve hit a wall with their exercise routine is: you have GOT to diversify. Routine = regular, unvarying, habitual. As we become accustomed to more intense stimulation from phones and apps and photos and memes, one could argue that we must work harder than ever before to keep our minds stimulated by our workouts. The alternative is a stale, limp, passionless regime that will yield zero visible results or oh-so-wonderful endorphins.
In Tampa, we have perennial great weather, so the options to work up a sweat are infinite. In high school, I started pushing weights and slowly bulking in the way most start out. Some less conventional friends began indoor rock-wall climbing at Vertical Ventures, which at the time sounded far too granola.
Funny how you let ten years pass, and your tastes can make a 180. A couple weeks ago I finally tried my hand at belaying and bouldering with a fellow easily-bored exercise fiend, who comes from a dance background.
First impressions – very challenging. Completely unlike typical controlled exercise with weights. Requires precise grip and balance, as well as strength in both upper and lower body. Considering its unique anatomical movements, I’d have worried if it wasn’t difficult. No matter how muscular or strong you are, going through unfamiliar motions flattens the playing field.
Like with any form of exercise, there is a lingo, an understood set of safety rules, and an acquired technique. Watching more seasoned climbers scale 30-foot walls effortlessly was impressive and humbling.
Jason and I tried every one of the 12 or so belay ‘courses’ which increased in difficulty, taking from 2 minutes to 10+ to reach the top (ceiling). We also fiddled with the non-rope walls, which are more ‘climb at your own risk.’
Would I go back? Absolutely. It may not be a regular part of my exercise repertoire (also a bit of a drive, out near the airport), but as a different activity for a weekend, a la canoeing or paddle-boarding, perfect.
The first-timer belay class is $25, which includes all equipment and a second entry for next time. One-day entry is $14.
I was impressed when the Monday after our climb, VV e-mailed me to follow up, ask for feedback, and invite me back. More small businesses should be doing the same, to foster open communication and a culture of consideration for their patrons.
If your workout needs a shot in the arm, take rock-wall climbing for a spin. Even if you never go back, it may spark some new ideas for home- or gym-based exercises.