Learning to Rock Climb

Up For Anything Challenge

To ring in 2018 and celebrate the launch of the new ‘Up For Anything' tight, Athleta challenged me and a friend to be #UpForAnything and step outside our comfort zone by attending a fitness class we've never tried before. Throughout my journey, I've taken all types of classes, from SoulCycle to Barre, but never dared try rock climbing. The idea intrigued me, but the story I told myself and others was that it was too dangerous.

We all have those exhilarating yet intimidating activities that we'd like to try, but I truly believed that my size and strength disqualified me from participating. Like many activities of years past, I believed climbing wasn't meant for someone (fat) like me. Thanks to a growing movement of body confidence and inclusion, I've started to push past limiting beliefs about my body and the space I take up in the world. When Athleta asked if I was #UpForAnything, I knew reaching for my limitless potential meant I not only had to scale the wall in the gym but also the one I'd built up in my mind.

Nominating A Friend

My friend Suzanne has been a huge source of motivation in my life. I admire her willingness not only to push herself but encourage others to step outside their comfort zones too. I met her at a book signing in Berkeley, and we felt an immediate kinship –– she has also spent most of her life overweight and worked to overcome struggles with confidence and self-love. When I began my Instagram account, It was a food diary where I shared snaps of what I was eating. Despite having lost over 70 pounds, I had crippling body image issues and avoided pictures at all costs. It was Suzanne who encouraged me to share my story and step out from behind the camera. I am forever grateful for her (not so subtle) nudge and all the ways I have grown as a result. When Athleta asked me to nominate a friend to tackle this challenge with me, it seemed only fitting that it would be Suzanne.

What To Wear

It's safe to say that rock climbing gear does not lend itself to the most flattering look. The harness has a tendency to bunch up and squish things around, which is why it's recommended to wear clothes that offer comfort and mobility. Athleta's new Up For Anything Tight is the perfect combination of movement and support. Their amazing Scluptek Light is a lighter weight compression fabric that is extremely versatile for any workout. The pants stayed put the entire time and I didn’t once worry about the waistband falling or rolling down. In fact, I didn’t think about my pants at all, which is a sign of optimal performance in my book. My must-have feature for pants are pockets, and these pants have four: one hidden in the waistband, two leg pockets, and one side zip pocket. Combined with the beautiful, bold jewel-tone colors, these pants are a new favorite.

Rock Climbing Basics

There are many types of rock climbing, and each requires different training and equipment. Indoor gyms most often include:

  • Bouldering involves routes that are close to the ground and does not require a harness or rope. The floor is typically a thick pad to protect you when falling.
  • Top-Rope Climbing is the most popular type of indoor climbing and requires a harness-and-rope secured to an overhead anchor. You tie into one end of the rope, and the other end of the rope is held by a belayer (the person who handles the tension in the rope to catch you in case of a fall).
  • Lead Climbing requires the most skill and is the more like outdoor sport climbing. The challenge with lead climbing is that if you slip, you’ll have a harder fall than you would feel when top-roping.

Top-rope climbing is the most popular among indoor climbing my heart was set on making it up the wall so we needed to take belay lessons. Our instructor walked us through all of the basics, learning how to tie knots that would keep us secure in our harness and how to belay so we could support one another. One of the things I didn't realize about rock climbing is the constant reliance on another person. As someone who tends to isolate and do everything myself, I enjoyed this push to rely on another person and was grateful to share the experience with a friend who I trust.

Once we got through the detailed instruction, it was time to put my limits to the test! I love adventure and trying new things, so the spirit of this challenge was right up my alley, but as I mentioned, I have been carrying a genuine fear of rock climbing. After examining what was driving the fear, I realized that it's mostly mental, but that didn't mean it disappeared once I put on a harness. I had come this far so there was no turning back. Climbing the wall was not as difficult as I expected and the feeling of reaching further with each step was exciting.

Are you up for Anything?

Now that I've conquered that fear, I want to share this feeling of accomplishment and remain Up For Anything in 2018! I am planning to continue to practicing climbing so I can improve my strength and skill. If you're in San Francisco and would like to climb with me, send a message! I'd love to meet up with new and old friends so we can support each other on the ropes! If you're not in the Bay Area, is there a workout that you’ve always wanted to try but been too afraid to pursue? Will you join me in the challenge this year? I'd love to hear what that means to you.

Thank you to Athleta for sponsoring this post. I am grateful to work with a brand who inspires me to reach for my limitless potential. As always, all opinions are my own. 

xx Brooke

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