The Newbee Rock Climber

Many of us have had the chance to attend a block party or a mini amusement park that has a rock climbing wall. I would say, I have done it about twice in my life. All occasions happened more than 10 years ago. Being the young, “in shape” gal I am, I figured having our Valentine’s Day date and an indoor rock climbing facility would be great. I quickly learned it is not as easy as I remembered it being.

We arrived at Brooklyn Boulder and were immediately greeted by the staff. As soon as we told them we were there for the Intro Climbing Class, they seemed so excited. It was apparent that they genuinely loved hearing that people were giving climbing a chance. We were then sized for shoes and directed toward our teacher.

When you are climbing at your local mini amusement park they never give you shoes. I was shocked when they handed over what looked like rubber jazz shoes. I put them on and instantly my feet began to hurt. The young man behind the desk could tell. He then said, “ You don’t want your toes to be curled like a monkey. You want them to be tight and together like a goat hoof”. From that, I gathered that my shoes were just right.

We met up with our instructor, who I was expecting to be some very large, muscular man accompanied by ropes and hooks while wearing spandex shorts and a tank. (something like this) I was wrong, to say the least. I learned my lesson and I will no longer stereotype a sport ever again! Our instructed appeared wearing a black long sleeve shirt and jeans. He was about 5’ 6” and no more than 160 lb. So basically he was the size of me, but much leaner. He gave us a quick tour of the joint and let us know that we would not be working with ropes or anything like that. We would be working off a 15-foot wall with a 3-foot deep crash pad. This, of course, terrified me. Our instructor realized quickly that no one wanted to go first out of our small class of five. He then demonstrated. Like I said, I will never stereotype again, because this young, sleek man climbed this wall with patients and grace. We all stood there in aw by how he brought such elegance to such a rough, physical act.

Dan, my spouse was the first student to give the wall a try. At 6’4” he made it look like he was walking up a few steps. He was done within about 5 seconds. I followed and got about 4 feet up and I froze. Suddenly, I was terrified of heights and yet I was only 4 feet IMG_0227off the ground. I had to keep reminding myself that there was a crash pad below me, but it provided no comfort. What felt about 20 minutes was only about 5 when my feet finally touched the mat on my climb down. I was cheered on by our instructed that informed me of the pros of my climb, as well as the cons.

We went from station to station learning the differences in labeling, V0 vs. V5 and why we were only on V0. Along the way, we learned color does matter when it comes to indoor climbing. At first, our instructor just let us climb free, giving us guidance as we climbed. He said its import for us to first learn the comfort of climbing, and how our body moves and how we grip vs how we should grip. About halfway through the class our instructor finally tells us that color matters and now, we need to focus on adhering to the color system. I am grateful that he waited to tell us this, as getting used to climbing alone was tough. We spend the remainder of the class doing climb after clime trying to conquer the wall at least once.

The class was finally over, but our instructor encouraged us to stay and claim on our own. Being a Newbee, I should have known that my body was exhausted, but Dan and I chose to keep going. Without the watchful eye and security blanket of having my teacher there, it was if I forgot everything I had learned over the past hour. My final climb was only 13 feet. I got to the top with confidence, but upon my descent, I hesitated. Dan was in the background trying to coach me through it, but all I could hear was the panic in my brain. I became so flustered that all my limbs just let go of the wall and the next thing I knew I was crashing to the mat and it was not graceful. My leg seemed to twist in a way that it ended up under my back, accompanied by my arm. It was then we called it quits.

Our time at Brooklyn Boulder was awesome! Best Valentine date by far, but I will say it took about 4 days for this “in shape” Newbee to bounce back.There were parts of my body that were sore that I didn’t even know existed. That said, we will be back for sure!
Although Brooklyn Boulder is not everywhere, many cities have climbing clubs. I highly recommend giving them a try. It is such a great full body workout and its something new!


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