Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Activities That Feed The Soul?

I think I’m getting the hang of the early a.m. roust, coffee and cardio, in that order. But for several years now, I’ve taken off Wednesday mornings (when partner and I are both healthy!) and drive this butt over to Ironworks (climbing gym) in Berkeley, where I manufacture Wedensday's sweat. And getting this old “butt” up the wall is becoming more and more farcical each year.

According to the article “Rock Climbing” by Tanya Tiessen in Alive Magazine, rock climbing “addresses four of the five components of physical fitness” including “muscular strength, muscular endurance, body composition and flexibility.” A climbing guide and friend, with whom I climbed some pinnacles on Mt. Saint Helena a few years ago, describes climbing as “playing chess with your body over an expanse of rock.” I still like his characterization.

I was excited to see that Sandrelle has been hitting the climbing gym! Indoor climbing is actually a lot of fun and a lot of work—but in some odd, new ways. Mentally and physically challenging, I was surprised by how significantly balance and coordination skills figured and how "climbing" resistance worked as opposed to, say, dumbell or cable resistance. Later, I remember reflecting on the amount of focus and concentration involved. Built-in meditation (and exhausting!).

Later, comfortable on a gym wall, I eventually moved outside for an entirely new rock experience. I’m incredibly lucky to live in the S.F. bay area, with so many gorgeous hunks of granite scattered here and there (mostly “there,” as in the Sierras). I’m also fortunate that a very supportive pal, once a Yosemite climbing guide, introduced me to the outdoor experience. An ardent supporter of my lifestyle transformation, he has, nonetheless, verbally kicked my tail a few times to help unstuck me in the face of lots of exposure (at least to my way of thinking) on my way up a cliff. (Nothing like yelling up a canyon that, "I'm gonna die!")

But, besides working up a good sweat and giving the body a great workout, climbing is ultimately fun. The teamwork and trust required and given and returned is so rewarding. And believe me; NO ONE is ever left out of the arrangement. After so many years of feeling excluded and isolated, climbing has fed me more than any meal I can think of.

Is there any sport or activity that you’ve experienced which feeds your soul AND burns calories?


Heather Waghelstein said...


Your the first person I've met who lost a bunch of weight and started climbing. Isn't it the greatest feeling.
I love to jog in Central Park on the bridle trail. Trail running makes me feel as if am part of the woods, That I am superwoman and I get to experience something special.
I love to rollerblade as well. and skiing too.

LastJourneyDown said...

How very cool! Yes - think it's wonderful to cross train as much as possible for max use of muscles - you've got a lot going on! Thanks for stopping by!

Sabs said...

I think any form of exercise feeds the soul. I love walking in beautiful surroundings.

Sandrelle said...


I can't wait to try outoor climbing once the weather gets better. I'm joing a local climbing gym with my son in the next few weeks. He'll be so excited and it will be a great bonding time as well as sweat time for both of us! There are so many great places to climb here in Utah, can't wait! I'm also thinking about trying cross country skiing this year as well. I want to try everything now!!

Mara said...

I love rock climbing! One of my goals for 2009 is to make more time for it. I love being outside so any activity that gets me there is #1 for me!


Juice said...

I love hiking for my nature outdoors fix. And I love dance classes, especially when the instructor teaches us a choreographed routine that we have to "perform" at the end of class. Combining music, rhythm, exercise and memorization is challenging and fun to me.

LastJourneyDown said...

Juice, Mara, Sandrelle - thanks for commenting - you all show such enthusiasm for the things you do and love - it's always intriguing to me that people will exercise when it's something they seem to have a passion for! Thanks for stopping by - Will post soon - it's been busytime!

Natalie said...

I starting reading your blog and picture a tiny little 20 year old then I read your profile!!! Holy Hanna, now I'm inspired, I want to be in the best shape of my life so I acn enjoy all the same fun as I age. Good for you, I'm watching you now...;)