Way back when I was in college, a few of my friends tried to get me to go to the climbing wall at UNI. Long story short, I didn’t make it to a climbing wall until a few years ago when my friend Dylan took me to Climb Iowa located in Grimes, a suburb of Des Moines. I had a good time, somewhat overcame a fear of heights, and got a great workout, i.e. I was sore in places I never imagined I could be sore. This following is a story about a woman I’ve never met but someone who inspires me. My friend Calla works at Climb Iowa and told me that her friend, Stephanie, has made big lifestyle changes and that I must hear her story. Without further ado, see how Stephanie reached new heights in personal wellness:
Johanna: I hear you have been making big lifestyle changes at Climb Iowa recently! Tell me how you got into climbing?
Stephanie: My climbing experience started about three years ago when my husband and I were looking for something fun for my son to do while on summer vacation. At first, my husband and I would sit on the sidelines watching our little climber scale the walls with no problems at all. After about the third time we went, I decided he was having way to much fun to be doing it alone, so I decided to give it a go. The first time I tried was quite an experience for me. I was completely out of shape and had been hauling around some extra poundage after having three children. I also realized that this activity was very fun and exciting. I’m not afraid of heights, and the climbing gym has many different routes for different levels of climbers. After a couple of times at the gym, I was hooked! I wanted to become a member of Climb Iowa but wondered if I would stick to the program. It took about a year of occasionally going for our family to get a membership so we could go whenever we wanted. This is when the changes started to happen, and I was hooked on the thrill of climbing increasingly higher levels of difficulty.
J: What wellness results have you seen since picking up this hobby?
S: In order to crush the harder routes, I went to the gym at least 3 times/week and started to see a little muscle appear. The more I climbed, the more muscle I gained and the weight started dropping off! I started out at 160 pounds and have lost almost 40 pounds since then. I really didn’t diet during this time although my eating habits were somewhat modified. With the help of the amazing staff at Climb Iowa, I improved my climbing abilities by taking a movement class that showed me the proper techniques for scaling the walls. In addition, the gym offered extra guidance every Tuesday on “Ladies Night” which included cross training in the upstairs gym. This helped me gain more muscle and endurance to increase my success on the routes.
J: Many people are hesitant to try a new hobby such as climbing. What advice do you have for someone who might want to try climbing?
S: I would say to just try it once and you will probably be hooked! If I had stayed on the sidelines and watched my son the whole time, I would probably still be a couch potato – overweight and completely out of shape. You will find the staff at Climb Iowa so friendly and helpful that before too long you will consider them all friends for life. In addition, the climbing community at this gym is amazing in itself. The more experienced climbers are willing to take the time to offer tips (or “Beta” in the climbing world), and encourage you that you are capable of achieving your goals no matter what your age or fitness level. It’s always good to have a partner to be accountable to during this process. I wouldn’t be the climber I am without the encouragement and friendship from my friend Kitty. She lets me know when I can do better, and helps me see where I go wrong when I’m ascending the wall. We make a great team!
J: What do you enjoy most about Climb Iowa?
S: I would say that the climbing world as a whole makes me happy. The staff at Climb Iowa are so encouraging and the atmosphere at the gym among all the other climbers is very welcoming. Gaining new friends in the process makes it golden. What more can you ask for?
J: Any plans to take your hobby outdoors?
S: As a matter of fact, my family took a trip down to Jasper, Arkansas during spring break. There is a place called Horseshoe Canyon Ranch where you can camp and climb as much as you desire. Since I’m not really an outdoor kind of person, I wasn’t sure I would like outdoor climbing, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Climbing outside is very exciting and offers a person the experience of rock beneath your fingers, wind through your hair, and the camaraderie of other climbing junkies along the way. It’s just amazing and I can’t wait to go there again!
So there you have it! Another wellness success story. As the New Year gets closer, are you thinking of setting any fitness-related goals? One thing I would encourage you to do is try something new. Had Stephanie never given climbing a chance, her life would be completely different. Not only did she enhance her physical well-being but she also gained an awesome community of friends through hew new hobby plus it has become a family affair! If there’s something you’ve always wanted to try, put your mind to it and get going! If you’re in the Des Moines area and interested in Climb Iowa, check out their website!