I’m holding on to a vertical wall by my fingers and toes looking intently at colorful plastic formations. My left hand can reach this one, my right foot can bump up to that one and then I have to slowly raise my left foot up to where my left hand is clinging in order to continue climbing upwards. About 25 feet below me, I hear a woman sing out “You got this!” It’s just the boost I need to stretch my leg up and barely connect that toe to stand up with enough balance to reach the next hold, and then the next and then next, until I’m up 45 feet, slapping the top bar with my free hand.
Once back on the ground (thanks to my trusty belay partner), I look for her to say “thank you”, but she’s already moved on to encourage someone else. It’s just another night at the gym.
I realized the other day that I’ve been spending much of my free time at the gym. I have been trying to simplify my life for some time now, following minimalist writers, such as Leo Babauta and Joshua Becker. They write about minimalism as decluttering your life to make room for your passions. I guess one of my passions is the gym. I didn’t plan it, it just happened.
When we moved to back to land, I scouted apartments based on proximity to the YMCA. In the last city I lived in, it was a short bike ride to the downtown YMCA and all the yoga classes I could fit in. I wanted to do that again.
Mondays and Wednesdays I go to cycling at 6:00 AM, yoga at 1:00 PM and the rock gym at 5:30 PM. Tuesdays I just walk/run outside. Thursdays is yoga at 6:00 AM and sometimes the rock gym. Fridays is yoga at 1:00 PM and the rock gym. Weekends are for walking and sailing. That’s 6 classes at the Y and usually 3 nights at the rock gym.
Why? It’s about being in touch with my body, for sure, but it’s also about community. There’s a bond between people who are pushing the limits of their bodies together in the same room. When we cycle on those stationary bikes with the music blaring, we are all racing together, as if the entire Tour de France is behind us. When we stretch, fold and twist in yoga, we are there for each other, breathing in and breathing out, intentional and focused.
And at the rock gym, it’s a combination spectator and participant sport. We climb, we chat, we take turns belaying each other. Groups of 2, 3, 4 form and disperse as people mill around working on the problems on the wall. We engage in dialog with the route setters, both verbally and with our bodies as we try to figure out the how to get up this one or that. We learn, we make friends, and we shout “You got this!”.