Hi everyone. I’m Olivia and I hate working out! Yes, you read that correctly. I’m writing an article for SweatNET but I hate exercising (cardio in particular). In the years after high school sports, I struggled to find ways to stay in shape that I actually enjoyed. I had fast and furious addiction to spinning, The Bar Method, body weight workout E Books, yoga, weight lifting, and circuit training only to get bored and quit everything abruptly and move onto the next thing. I’m someone who hates repetition and after a while of doing the same thing too often, I tend to snap and just quit altogether. However, I am here to tell you that I have finally found something that I enjoy and that never makes me bored: rock climbing.
When I moved to Charlotte a year ago I had no hobbies and all of my friends worked daytime jobs. I drove by a climbing gym called the Inner Peaks a few times and decided that now was my time to pursue something fun in a new city! After my first visit to the bouldering wall I was hooked. You don’t wear a harness while bouldering because you remain close enough to the ground where you can fall (on cushy pads) and not injure yourself. To avoid falling you can only rely on yourself and your ability to stay on the wall. Not only is bouldering physically challenging, it’s also mentally challenging, which is something I didn’t even realize I craved. After my first day of bouldering I was feeling incredibly mentally stimulated and I was sore in places I didn’t even know existed. I had never used my body in this way before! My elbows were sore. My fingertips were sore. My back and core were sore. But in a good way! I could tell that if I were to stick with it, I was going to become much stronger.
There are so many elements to bouldering, and the progression is addicting. Bouldering challenges your balance, core stability, upper body strength and grip strength all while testing your problem solving abilities. The boulder routes change all the time, so there’s always fresh new problems to work on. In a pleasant surprise I found that there’s an awesome and supportive community built around climbing where everyone encourages each other and there’s no judgment whether you’re a beginner or you’ve been climbing for years. On my first few days I felt a little out of place, weak and frankly a little silly. I didn’t have the effortless finesse that the more experienced climbers seemed to have. But with support from other climbers and a lot of practice, I’d like to think I look a little less spastic now compared to when I started.
One of the things I dislike about many of the traditional workouts I’ve tried is that the routine is often the same. When I can anticipate the next “move” or the next instruction, my mind turns off and I go into zombie mode. I know a lot of people enjoy this feeling because it helps them get “out of their head” and connect to their body or they feel as if they’re in a meditative state. But in my experience I feel as if I’m on autopilot and not as “present” as I should be. After trying my skills at bouldering, I decided to take up different types of rope climbing (top rope and sport/lead climbing.) Both of these methods pose their own challenges and I love the fact that I can choose to boulder, top rope or lead climb depending on how I’m feeling that particular day. For those of you who believe the proof is in the pudding, before I started rock climbing I could do 1 proper pull up. After climbing for a little less than a year I can do 10 in a row. So if you also struggle with finding an exercise you genuinely enjoy, I highly encourage you to try rock climbing—maybe I’ll see you there!