At 36 I discovered climbing, and finally found my strength
I never would have expected myself to ever sit down and write about Rock Climbing. Even as I sit here, attempting to write this post, I feel a bit unqualified to speak about it, but ultimately I do believe my journey with climbing could inspire others.
A little background, I'm 37, a mother to 4 boys (ages 16, 14, 11 & 8). I got married at 19 years old. Still married. In between all the babies we somehow managed to move 12 times in 15 yrs! Add to that 10 years of homeschooling, in short, pretty much all of my adult life (since the age of 19), I have been in motherhood/wife mode and straight up surviving at times. I wouldn't trade it, but it has come with its challenges.
I am a fairly petite person, yet carried all my boys straight out. Pregnancy was not easy and over the last 8 years of birthing boys, my body took on some major changes. I developed a 4 finger inner abdominal separation called a Diastasis Recti. Resulting in a very weak core and sadly some pretty crippling back problems. I remember at times being at the park and a task as simple as pushing my boys in the swing would actually hurt. Lifting a laundry basket without fail caused discomfort, and I always had to be extremely mindful of how I lowered my body down to pick anything up... including my children.
So when it came to working out, I always felt limited. I always felt frustrated. Everything I seemed to do in order to strengthen my body, left me feeling weak. It was always a chore, never a joy... and I envied all the people I'd see actually enjoying working out, because I just couldn't.
After move 12, I struggled heavily with anxiety and depression... While I could write numerous posts just on that topic, let's just say, depression is what led me to the discovery of climbing. I was driving down the road one day, passing a large gym in our area called Lifetime Fitness. I was defeated and tired... and knew something had to give. So without much thought, I walked into this giant gym with my 4 kids in tow and joined. While there I was given a tour and they just so happen to have a rockwall in the facility.
I tried it with the boys and was immediately hooked. Something about it just seemed so inviting and fun, I loved all the bright colors on the wall. The fact it was something fun to do with my boys, yet also a way to exercise, seemed like a win. Who knew that in less than a couple months into it, I'd have a job there and would find myself on a wonderful journey I now can't imagine not discovering.
Climbing has been the only workout in my life that left me feeling stronger. I could climb for days in a row and rather than feeling more pain in my back, it felt less. My body went from feeling incredibly weak all the time, to strong. While my Diastasis is not completely resolved yet, it is smaller. I can do things now that I could have never done in my 20's, and it's all thanks to climbing and what it has given back to my body and mind.
My two year mark of climbing will be August 2021. Since I started I have tried to stay consistent at climbing 3-5 days a week. Covid shut down made that difficult, so we built a small home traverse wall, where I continued to climb, almost daily. Traversing my home wall for 30 minutes at a time, just trying to keep my endurance and strength up during a time we couldn't go into the gym. Once east coast lockdowns ended, I went on several outdoor trips. Trips to go water soloing in the summer, trips to the New and Red River Gorge... and of course one of my favorite places called Sandrock in Alabama, where I climbed my 1st 5.10b/c - 90 foot clean. (to this day one of my favorite climbs). All of this I have been able to do not only for "myself" - a person I neglected for many years... (moms, don't neglect you, you deserve time away... and no matter what season you are in, please try and make time for yourself.) In the midst of this beautiful adventure with climbing, I have been able to do this with my son Taite, who has successfully climbed 5.11 on lead after just 18 months climbing and navigating 2 foot injuries (both unrelated to climbing, but both needing to be cast - one for 3 broken bones in his foot). He is a wonderful natural talent and has the best coach out there.
With the investment of amazing friends (who I'd consider family), climbing has been not only a fun sport... but so much more than that. It has been a community, a healing for my body, but also my mind... I truly cannot imagine not having it or being a part of it in some way.
So to the mom who's mid 30's... quickly approaching that 40 year mark... don't sell yourself short. Don't say you "can't," until you "try." Climbing isn't for everyone... but I encourage everyone I meet to at least try it. Try it with someone you trust. Try it with an open mind... and you too may discover the beauty and positivity it brings.