I started a short series yesterday on the importance of still being open to new experiences as we get older. Yesterday’s theme was sex – and I will come back to that – but today I want to go in a different direction.
Many of us, if we engage in fitness at all, fall into the same work out regimes over the years – running, swimming cycling, maybe weights. I’ve always worked out pretty intensely, but I have certainly fallen into my routines – I did triathlons for years and then, post kids, I’ve been doing P90X type workouts for almost 10 years now. They are fantastic, but each iteration of P90X program is really just a modernization of the last. It keeps me in shape but it doesn’t really expose me to ‘new things’.
So, a few years ago I got into rock climbing. I’ve always done it a bit, but took it up with vigour about 2 years ago. I went from a very basic/beginner climber to a pretty solid intermediate/light advanced climber.
And with this progress I’ve been able to push some boundaries. Two in particular.
Last summer, for the first time ever, I did an outdoor, multi-pitch climb. In France, with my wife and kids, we climbed a 300 foot, 3 pitch cliff in the Provence region. It was exhilarating. Multi-pitch lead climbing is the threshold of experienced climbing and it felt unbelievable to be there.
Last summer as well, we spent a lot of time sign outside bouldering. This is a little obscure, but it is the hallmark of hard core climbing. Think of 10-15 foot high holders with tiny little crevasses and kinks in them that are used as holds to climb up or across the rock. Only really hard core climbers are really into outdoor bouldering, but with my daughter’s coach, we decided to give it a go. We loved it. My wife and I were always (always!!) the least talented people there but it was beautiful to watch the strong, young climbers in their outdoor element. And, for us, it was a huge challenge to master some of the easier boulders. Again, we had a blast every time we went.
So, to return to the theme. Rock climbing .. especially multi-pitch and bouldering – is pretty rare to get into in middle age. Its a young person’s sport. But finding it and trying to advance in it at an older age is an amazing experience. It connects you to a younger crowd; rock climbers are amazing people. It pushes you physically and mentally; it’s incredibly demanding and more than a little scary. And it reminds you that your body can still respond when pushed; I’ve never been able to do more pull ups in life than I can do now.
Get out there and try something new. Not just once – try to master it