Thursday, November 15, 2012

Smith College Climbing Wall

Today I did something very exciting; I climbed at the Smith College climbing wall.

The climbing wall at Smith is located in the same room as where I have my aerobics class, and I have often looked at it wistfully thinking that it must be really really neat for the people who get to enjoy the climbing wall.

Monday night at the Phonathon, I was talking with one of the student callers. She mentioned that her girlfriend worked at the climbing wall. I said that I had been interested in checking out the Central Rock Gym, a climbing gym in neighboring Hadley, but would love to try the climbing wall at Smith first. Good news! The Smith climbing wall was free and open to all members of the Smith community.

The student caller kindly e-mailed me the climbing wall hours. I was happy to see it was open from 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. on Thursday nights, which worked well with my schedule. I promised myself that I would go.

I headed over to the gym after work today and was warmly greeted by my student caller's girlfriend who took great care of me during my first time at the climbing wall. She hooked me up with a harness and climbing shoes and, after a quick safety introduction, invited me to get warmed up by doing some bouldering.

The bouldering was great! I was able to climb about a third of the way up the wall without being on belay. It was a nice way to get a feel for what was to come, especially considering I have only done any climbing twice, both with school fields trips in junior high and high school.

After I was warmed up, I was attached to safety equipment and after more of a safety lesson was able to start climbing. There are a number of different courses you can do on the rock climbing wall. I navigated my way up the wall three times, two times on the same stretch of wall doing differing courses and the second time on a different wall.

The climbing was such a great experience that I definitely want to go back in future weeks. I also have to make it a point to go to the Central Rock Gym where I can do even more climbing. (I have a free day pass but will still have to pay for equipment and someone to belay me, unlike at Smith where everything was free.)

I had initially been worries that I would feel uncomfortable climbing. After all, a lot of people say that heights are scary. This wasn't the case at all. I felt very comfortable in my safety equipment and was well cared for by the staff at the climbing wall, who are absolutely awesome! (My student caller's girlfriend really made me feel like a VIP.)

I found that I really like the strategy involved with climbing a specific path or trail along the wall -- I was constantly trying to figure out how to best navigate to my next point.

I think it's wonderful that Smith offers so many wonderful opportunities to its employees. I hope to take advantage of more of the great classes and facilities at the gym. Later this month, I want to attend one of the free Get Fit Smith classes that the Exercise and Sports Science program offers. I've been dying to try spinning, especially since my step-mom is an instructor, so I signed up for a free class at Smith Friday during lunch in late November.

I plan to keep exerimenting with my fitness options at work and also make sure to go to the climbing wall again soon!

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