Joined a Climbing Gym

Berkeley Ironworks middle pillar

R and I have been exploring various fitness activities lately. I’ve been on a bit of a fitness kick since my multi-month illness this last Winter. Last week, we joined Berkeley Ironworks. Ironworks is a climbing gym that happens to be about eight blocks from our house. Basically, they have vertical faces to climb, many with a variety of overhangs, and these have various sizes and shapes of faux rock attachments screwed down into them to make a path. They vary from little round nubs, a little large than a quarter, to scallop shapes with curves the size of two fists. A team at the gym changes a selection of the paths on a continuing basis so, over the course of a couple of months, all of the paths change. As an additional benefit, the gym also has free weights, weight machines, various cardio machines, and a selection of ongoing classes, such as yoga. All in all, it is a pretty good deal.

I climbed a tiny amount when I was a child during classes one summer when I was seven but hadn’t gone near it since then. While I’ve enjoyed the gym so far (we’ve been there three times together), I’m not sure if I will ever wind up climbing outdoors though it is always possible once I know what the hell I’m doing. The main reason to do it is that it is good exercise, it is interesting (you have to actually think about what you’re doing), and we do it together since you climb in pairs, with one person belaying for the other to keep you from falling 40 feet to your doom when you (inevitably) slip while climbing. R and I don’t have a lot of activities like this that we can do together and it is easy to say, “Hey, let’s go!” in an evening with it being so close. I’m also planning on taking yoga classes there.

I’ve recently been looking at Kendo since Berkeley Kendo, the local dojo, has a sensei who has been teaching for over 45 years. It is hard to commit to a twice a week activity (which you would need to make real progress) right now with my doctoral program starting up this Fall and my continuing issues with insomnia, which can make my energy levels rather hit or miss on many days. The drop-in nature of climbing at the gym seems a bit better suited for us right now.

On a plus note, with my illness earlier this year and my four times a week aerobic workouts since then, my weight is 38 pounds or so lighter than it was a year ago. I lost 20 pounds while I was sick, and some before and after that as well. My resting heart rate is also about 15 beats a minute better and my blood pressure is significantly better (when I get sleep). All in all, I’m probably the healthiest that I’ve been in ten years outside of the chronic insomnia and left over neurological effects from the illness in the form of minor active muscles tremors at times. You have to look on the bright side of these things and getting sick finally gave me the impetus to start working out and get healthier.