Thursday, January 31, 2013

Adventures in Rock Climbing

Confession:  Stepping out of your comfort zone can be challenging and humbling for someone with a Type A personality who hates the thought of other people seeing that she is not good or perfect at something (aka ME:) Though I would not describe myself as a prideful or arrogant person and while I do think that trying new things is the best way to stretch and grow as a person, I was reminded last night of how humbling this experience can actually be.   I realized that while I say that I like stepping outside of my comfort zone, the Type A part of my personality  would still prefer to be in control of this process.  A perfect example was last night when I went rock climbing.

Here is how my ideal scenario would have gone: 
  •   I would have researched (aka googled) rock climbing and learned as many tips and techniques for beginners as I could.  Then I would have gone and practiced on my own  (aka without people I know around) and only THEN I would have gone rock climbing with my boyfriend (who is an experienced climber) and he would  have amazed at how “naturally” I picked it up.  To me, that seems like a win-win situation- I would have broadened my horizons by trying something new while minimizing the risk of looking like a fool in front of someone I care about.  

Here is how my actual adventure in rock climbing went down: 

  • I had no idea what I was doing, it took me about 15 times to be able to learn how to make the simple figure 8 knot (one of my favorite comments from the night was when I said to Kevin- “um, this really doesn’t look like a figure 8, it looks like a pretzel” and he replied with “if it looks like a pretzel that is how you know its wrong;).”  Even though I consider myself an athlete, it turns out running half-marathons does not necessarily mean that you will have the right strength or muscles to climb up a wall- I can only imagine how awkward I looked hanging from the wall desperately trying to grab for a handhold.  And climbing was the part I was at least remotely decent at- I don’t even want to discuss my difficulties with belaying:)  For some reason the concept of throwing the rope and keeping it locked (so you don’t drop the person who is climbing up the wall- which even I knew was a bad thing to do) was hard for me to grasp.   
Blisters-proof that I worked hard!
Luckily, Kevin was a very patient teacher and by the end of the night I had successfully tackled a wall that I could not do the first time around, I managed to finally belay him without getting my hand caught in the carabiner, and both of us left mostly physically intact- or at least without any broken bones:) And do you know what- I loved it! It was a really hard workout, but it was FUN- and I am super proud of the blisters and bruises on my hands because they show hard work and perseverance. I loved rock climbing because it challenged me mentally and physically- it was like a puzzle trying to figure out where to best place your hands and feet to climb to the top of the wall (sort of like a vertical version of Twister) but I could also feel it working muscles in my arms, legs, back and core. I know the amount of calories burned rock climbing depends on a lot of factors, but I can guarantee you I burned a lot more calories on a rock climbing date than sitting in the movie theater!

It is really easy to blog or feel superior about things that we are good at- at this point I feel like I am pretty confident giving advice or suggestions on eating healthy, maintaining weight loss, or running.  It is much harder and much more humbling to try something new and let others see your inexperience.  But honestly, I think that is where true growth happens- when you admit your inexperience, allow yourself be taught by others , and embrace the challenge as a new adventure that takes practice to master.  

How have you stepped out of your comfort zone recently? Are there any other new/interesting fitness experiences that you have tried?


  1. I am afraid of heights. So climbing a rock wall was a challenge for me. Especially when it was on a cruise ship in Alaska. Oh I should mention, not crazy about being in the middle of water with no land around. Yes the entire trip I was out of my comfort zone. My husband asked me, "Why are you climbing this wall if you are afraid?" It was something I had to accomplish for myself. (I am a major scaredy cat). But I climbed that wall and just as I was about to grab the top I turned my head and looked out at that vast amount of water. Yup I froze. I didn't quite make it to the top, but it was a win for me.
    Congrats for stepping out of your comfort zone.
    FYI, Kevin said you climbed very well.

    1. Thanks Patti! I have never been on a cruise, but I can only imagine how I would have felt in the middle of the ocean on top of a wall! I love the beach, but before I get in the ocean every time I have to talk to myself and convince myself there are not sharks in there- though my dad used to always tell me as an attorney I did not need to worry about that because they would not bother me due to "professional courtesy". He thought that joke was so hilarious that he would tell it about 100 times every vacation