After a summer of belaying for high-ropes courses, JG and I went climbing all the time in college. There was a tiny (but free!) gym made out of a converted racquetball court at the fitness center and we went at least twice a week. Slowly, we got better and became friends with the regulars and the staff. JG earned a nickname, “Gigantor,” and we were easily recognizable because of our extreme difference in height. It was a workout that didn’t feel like one and I loved it.
And then we graduated. Rock gyms cost money and getting to them cost time. After the demands on the daily routine, the climbing gear stayed in a dark closet, unused. Every so often, JG and I would look at each other and say, “We should really get out there.” But we never did.
Last week, a friend of ours called up. “They just opened a new gym in Coatesville! Come check it out with me!” JG took him up on it when I was in
It was the first time I’d gone climbing in more than two years and I could feel it. My hands were unaccustomed to the dryness of chalky hands and my forearms were confused about the sudden strain. I was pleased to find that my body still remembered the odd configurations that climbing demands, even if my strength was not up to par. I climbed several easy routes and reminded myself how to belay, but JG and our friend did most of the climbing. The fact that I tired so easily was just motivation to get back to my former self.
Unlike other gyms I’ve tried in the area, this one had other workout equipment. When my hands were too raw to hold on any longer, I surprised myself by walking on a treadmill for 20 minutes, and following it up with 7 minutes of running. Running! Which I normally view as cruel torture! I could barely walk down the steps without falling, but I felt like I had really done something good for myself. I heart endorphins! We both joined the gym that night.
One of our friends, a gym teacher and all-around healthy guy, always says that after a hard workout, the second day is the worst. Today is the second day and I believe him. My forearms hurt so much this morning that I had a hard time gripping my steering wheel. I could hardly jog up my one flight of stairs. It’s as though I can hear my body creak.
Tomorrow night, JG and I are hitting up the gym again. Wish me luck.