Thursday, January 8, 2009

Indoor Rock Climbing: The Aftermath

I was late for my first rock climbing class because I wanted to have everything my way, including a little swim before climbing. What can I say? I love that "Eau De Pool" fragrance.

Forest Park was doing the Bob Marley -- jamming big time. All I could see was brake light after brake light. I am so glad that I don't have to travel to University City or Clayton regularly because I would have a serious case of road rage. Not even Parliament Funkadelic could lighten my mood. I was even starting to feel a tad bit claustrophobic with cars in front, behind and on the side of me.

Initially, I wanted to take the rock climbing class at Upper Limits (35 feet high wall) but there was a serious waiting list. So, I decided to try the Center of Clayton (31 feet high) instead. The Center has a very modest area set aside for rock climbing as opposed to Upper Limits but, hey, all I need is one route and I only have one classmate. So, the space is sufficient.

I ended up being twenty minutes late and when I approached the rock climbing wall, the instructor looked at me as if I had lost my mind -- not because I was late but because he couldn't believe that I wanted to climb walls. Yes, the eyes really are the mirror to the soul. I could see pure, unfiltered shock on his face and I spent about five minutes putting him at ease and attempting to find common ground.

Instructor "J" must have spoken with my mother who had quite the laugh when I told her about my intention to take up this sport. Moms also wanted to know if my insurance was still valid and if I was aware of deductibles et al. It warms my heart to know that I can make my mother laugh with such abandon. Truly, I would rather make my mother laugh than cry. Although, when she finished shaking, I think that I saw a tear or two present.

My mother was not the only one laughing at me recently. The lifeguards at the rec center are quite amused that I have a lap counter. I do not care and I can not be bothered with remembering how many laps I have completed while swimming since my mind is occupied with proper breathing, leg position and, yeah, staying calm and I like to know stats -- if only for my fitness log.

It was my turn to be amused at my instructor's surprise when I scampered up the wall. He wanted to know if I had been climbing before. I responded in the affirmative since I had climbed once.

If you are an infrequent or new rock climber, heads-up: your body's report will be instant. There are all kind of sore areas on my body. As promised, rock climbing is a full body workout. It's like one big vertical push-up.

So, how did my first rock climbing class go? Not, um, too bad. I had a hard time learning how to belay. My coordination was terrible but I think that I have a basic understanding of the mechanics. Plus, I still have time to fine-tune the technique.

Since I was dragging a bit post-swimming and climbing, I didn't get a chance to take a self-guided tour around the Center of Clayton but it looks nice and, in fact, the layout is similar to The Heights and Riverchase except for the climbing wall, competitive pool and on-site Subway which I think is pretty cool. Once you have worked up a an appetite climbing or playing basketball, you have access to food that won't do too much damage calorically -- depending on, of course, the goodies you select.

I always bemoan the fact that St. Louis city does not have a modern recreation center but there's one being built. The Carondelet Recreation Center is scheduled to open this summer. Hopefully, it will be comparable to The Center of Clayton, The Heights and Riverchase.

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