Distraction, Reflection, Direction
Change – such a loaded word. In many cases it instills fear and worry. It is something to be resisted and avoided. It is uncomfortable. Change is sometimes tough because we fear the unknown, and everything on the other side of Change is unknown.
But there comes a time in every person’s life when “enough is enough”. Also a time when “not enough is not enough”. I’d venture to guess that we’ve all thought or said outloud, “Something HAS GOT to change!!” It is in these cases that we view change as a good thing. I propose these 2 thoughts to ponder regarding Change:
(1) It is happening all around us whether we embrace it or not
(2) It is not the change that is good or bad, it is our attitude toward it that determines the type of effect it will have on our lives.
I would like to illustrate this by being transparent with some of the changes here at Real World Climbing.
When I talk about being a climber living in the Real World, what I mean is: I’m just like 95% of the climbers in the world. I am fairly obsessed with this ‘activity’ and I think about it all the time the way a golf enthusiast thinks of their golf game.
But with all of the Real World Climbers out there, I have responsibilities: a 40+ hr./wk job, a never-ending honey-do list, a spouse and children that I need and want to spend time with.
While working in a cubicle and closet sized office environment for a several years, I have often dreamed and schemed of ways to make a living in something I was truly passionate about, as opposed to something that just pays the bills and allows small pockets of time to pursue climbing. After nearly 2 years without a full-fledged vacation, this agitation only magnified.
To be in full disclosure, I don’t think like the average employee. Having owned/operated a freelance business for several years, I am an entrepreneur that happens to have found himself in traditional employment. Needless to say, sitting in a cubicle, performing mundane tasks, and dreaming about climbing, at times I became a bit edgy and at times irritable.
I began drawing up plans for starting a second business, a Real World Climbing themed business. I found small pockets of opportunity and was launching into them, again on a freelance basis. It felt good to be on the front end of the change process, to be in control. Until… changes started happening on their own.
We found out we were expecting our 3rd child. And honestly, we were excited about the timing. As we neared the date of birth of our 3rd son, I notified my bosses on several occasions that I would be taking a full week of vacation. ‘No Problem’. Earlier in the year, the director of our department took another opportunity. A month after that the VP over the department transferred to marketing. It took nearly 6 months to hire even one of the replacements and when they did, this new director came into a tough situation. I don’t blame him for making his next decision, but it still stung. One by one, I saw my counterparts being let go… the ones that worked out of satellite offices. I worked in Minneapolis, our department was based in Indianapolis. So when I announced I was taking my week vacation, they politely thanked me for my service and let me know that I would not be needing to return after my son was born.
So in a matter of days, I was out of a job and welcoming Gavin into our family. 80% of me was completely relieved, but the 20% uncertainty remained.
You may or may not have noticed a 6 month blog posting hiatus here at Real World Climbing. I do apologize for my silence. I have really taken this opportunity to spend great quantity and quality time with my family. It has been extremely fun.
I checked off many long overdue items on my honey-do list. Like a complete kitchen/dining room face lift.
I also built yet another section to the Garage Climbing Gym. I couldn’t resist the itch… besides, I had a bunch of plywood donated and had to do something with it, right?
And I got serious about making a Real Living with what makes me feel Really Alive. I am thankful for how much I have learned from my 1st business. I am thankful for how much I have learned in my first year blogging on this site. And I am thankful for all that I have learned about climbing through books, videos, blogs, mentorship, and trial & error.
So enjoy the changes as they are rolled out here on Real World Climbing. Some small logistical changes are already in place. How do you like our new look? Like a new dedicated Twitter account: @realworldclimb And a much more interactive medium for Real World Climbers to collaborate on our brand spanking new facebook page.
Some of the exciting things to come include: more consistent content updates from me and guest writers, interviews with our fellow Real World Climbers, a video tour of the entire Garage Climbing Gym, and some further insight in how Real World Climbing is Really Making It.
Thanks for sticking with us!
~ Climb 4 Real ~
Meuse Climbing Holds – Homewall User Review
Crazy times… Good times, but lots of plates spinning. Unfortunately that has meant less writing. And this post especially is long overdue. I hope that you’ll find that good things do come to those that wait.
A few months ago, I was given the opportunity to review some holds from Red Point Holds. I wrote from a home wall owner’s perspective. Well, I’ve gotten another shot at some new holds from a new hold company, Meuse Climbing Holds. And again the premise of my review is that the holds that are “best” for a homewall are often different from the needs and wants of a Commercial Gym.
I received a box on my doorstep from owner Brian Meuse, and needless to say, I didn’t wait long to open it and get my hands on them. And that is exactly what I did. Yes, I was interested in the shapes, as Brian mentioned that he prides himself on the uniqueness of his shapes. But we’ll get to shapes a little later. I began my exploration by checking out the texture of the holds. Texture is a delicate balance for both gyms and homewalls alike. If they are too slick, they won’t get used, but if they are too rough, they can wear down the skin too much. This is especially important as a homewall is a training device, like a treadmill is for runners. So where do Meuse Holds fall on a texture spectrum. I’d say that Meuse Holds and Redpoint Holds are very similar in texture. It really is a comfortable texture. In the couple months I’ve climbed on them, they have really held up well. In the mix were a few technical foot holds. These will prove to be the real durability test, as on my homewall, footholds are by far integrated into the most routes. So far, so good.
I then started checking out the shapes, and something jumped out at me as positively unique. Several of the holds were hollow-backed. No big deal normally, but these were not oversized holds. These were some of the smallest hollow-backs I’ve ever come across. Super light but still solid, both hand wrenched and impact driven.
There were a lot of different shapes to be investigated. A few of them could definitely be identified as sets. And as Brian alluded, there were some quite unique shapes in the box. Some of those unique features really worked and only a couple didn’t suit my preferences. Since there were so many holds and varieties to pick from let’s touch on three categories: the sets, the ‘not-for-me’ holds, and the top picks.
Right off the bat, I noticed the 3 similar crimps/mini-jugs called Rolls. They have a good radius and the subtle ridges feel solid when gripped. They are low-profile and have a small footprint, so they don’t take up a ton of valuable real estate. They also are great as footholds as they require precise placement.
I also got to grab onto 2/5 of the Cakes jugs; nice, comfortable, deep jugs with ‘eroded’ pockets to dig in with the thumb. I really liked these, and for a different reason. I liked that if they were oriented as a sidepull or undercling, those ‘erosions’ made for very precise foot targets. One thing I look for particularly in climbing holds is for a way to make it so that handhold you just used doesn’t end up a GIGANTIC ledge to stand on as you progress upward.
And lets not forget 3/5 of the Perch set. These are a set of flat edges with clean rounded edges. Solid standard holds with friendly surfaces.
I actually really liked most of this hold, the Moldy Loaf. But the side pictured here is designed to mimic real rock. There is a lip near the wall edge that is not wide enough for fingers to crimp inside, so when it is grabbed, the lip just digs into my finger-tips. Although, I’ll be the first to admit that there may be some application of this feature that I’m not thinking of.
And then there were two holds that were just plain painful. The shapes, Twister and Newt, look really cool and definitely unique. But the ridges felt like this:
Truly, those were the only shapes/concepts that I didn’t care for. There were many holds that were great… but now I want to share the holds I consider…
My Top Picks:
Wrapping things up:
Meuse Climbing Holds are high quality. In almost all cases, they expertly blend form and function. Creative uses of their holds are only limited by the mind of the setter.
And I leave you with this bit of amusement… a video of a “Yellow” route I set on my 45* wall in the garage… and then me climbing it. If you look close, you’ll see our friends Moldy Loaf, Grenada, Chisle, Fang, and Lox.
~ Climb 4 Real ~
The ‘What If???’ Game – Episode 2
Wow!!! It’s been about a month since Episode 1 of the ‘What If???’ Game. Pretty good responses. I know how hard it can be to squeeze out a few minutes to both compile a thought and get it into writing. I don’t take it lightly that you even take the time to read, let alone type up a comment. I wrote a post earlier listing some climbing sites I loved and frequented often that could use a pick-me-up. According to my click-through stats, you guys really came through, and several have even shared new content. Thank you!!!
Well, it is time again to warm up those imaginations and share some inspiration. Remember, anything goes! (as long as its PG) Another Special Notice: This post will only be fun with your participation. [Comments are still open on Episode 1]
Here we go again…
You have access to:
And room for 2 more stamps on:
And one of these:
What country will you fly to first?
What sectors will you climb at?
What dream routes/boulders will you climb?
How long will you stay?
And then where will you go next?
Re-cap: You have one month and access to a Flex Jet program and can climb in any 2 countries other than your own.
Dream HUGE and share below with the rest of us.
~ Climb 4 Real ~
Climbing Coaching Catching Up
I sparked a conversation with some local climbers about the strong youth climbers coming out of the Midwest. As many online forum conversations often go, this one took a slight turn in a different direction, to coaching (or sometimes lack thereof). In that exchange I received this very solid quote from one of the strongest climbers out of Minnesota, Nic Oklobzija. Yes, that Nic O. The First Ascentionist of The Raven (V12) and co-author of the upcoming Midwest Bouldering Guide.
“The only things holding [climbers] back in the Midwest are that our facilities are ill equipped to train at the same level as our counterparts out west and our coaching. I think the coaching is more a national level problem not just the Midwest. [Certain teams] are making it better but it does not compare to the same level athlete training that other sports enjoy.” – Nic Oklobzija
So why has it taken so long for climbing to catch up? Lets dig into this just a bit.
Rock Climbing as a “sport” is actually relatively new. Early on, climbing was almost purely an adventurous activity. As the focus moved slowly away from Aid Climbing to Free Climbing, the challenge to increase both the difficulty and volume of climbs began to gain notoriety. But information moved slowly. And often inaccurately. Like the telephone game we would play as children. Hearsay and anecdotal. All the while, in many sports around us, methodical and documented study was being done. Which leads us to today. Climbing is right there. Missing by a hair on the short list into the Olympics.
I grew up playing team sports. Let’s use the example of Football (as opposed to Futbol). I had a head coach putting together the overall strategy. I had an offensive coordinator working on a specific part of that strategy. I had a position coach working with me specifically on my role within that strategy. I had a player-leader calling audibles when needed. I had a strength & conditioning coach as well.
Now I understand that Rock Climbing is not a team sport, but I wrote the above paragraph to show the vast contrast. Climbing probably compares more closely to swimming. I can almost guarantee that an elite swimmer has a stroke coach, maybe several that specialize in each discipline. They likely have someone that consults them on the strategic pieces within a meet. They have a strength & conditioning coach, maybe one for each.
So this begs the question, why do the majority of climbers still get their information from hearsay, or worse their own personal trial and error. Don’t get me wrong. I am a strong proponent of the Try-Fail-Adjust growth philosophy. By all means, try things. And learn from everything you do. But as the saying goes, learning from other people’s experiences is truly the best teacher. So check this math out!
(Technique Specialist + Physiology Specialist) x Hard-Working Climber = Raising the Bar
It might look something like this…
While the discussion of having coaches makes 100% sense when it comes to competition climbing. I’d like to expand one step further. In other sports/activities, athletes have the option for a personal trainer to help them improve. Example: my wife runs marathons and now triathons. Not professionally or for sponsorships, but for personal gratification. She contracted a run coach. She’s worked with a triathlon coach. She has a swimming mentor.
So even the everyday, regular climber types (those wanting to progress from 5.11 to 5.12, from 5 pitches a day to 10 pitches, or V5 to V8) can benefit from increasing the emphasis and value being placed on coaching.
What are your thoughts? Comment below!!
~ Climb 4 Real ~
Glucosamine = WD40 for Your Joints
I am inspired by professional rock climbers … regularly! That “Career Path” would have been fantastic, had I only pursued it earlier. But I have different motives now, and conflicting priorities and responsibilities to the “traditional” professional athlete lifestyle. But again, I am inspired by their ability and dedication. I have many favorites … but naturally among them is THE Chris Sharma.
I ran across an article online for Outside Magazine, interviewing Chris on his Training Secrets. It is classic Chris Sharma; just get out and climb as much as possible. One answer did grab my attention.
“Over the last few years, I’ve been taking supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin, plant-based vitamins, and fish oils from [company name omitted]. When I’m climbing year-round punishing my body all the time it does give me a little bit of an edge.” – Chris Sharma [Article by Ian Landau]
It intrigues me that he mentions these three supplements specifically. I have long been an advocate for proper supplementation, which is more a matter of mindset than which pills to take. My background (and degree) is in Physical Education, Kinesiology, Exercise Physiology, & Coaching. I am by no means a nutritionist or dietitian, but I do follow these topics closely.
I’d like to take these three supplements and expand individually on why they are beneficial for climbers and non-climbers alike. And why supplementation is often necessary. First up is one of my all time favorites: Glucosamine.
WHAT? Glucosamine chemically is actually a specialized sugar called an amino sugar, and is comprised of C6H13NO5, for all the science geeks out there. It is often found in the form of Glucosamine Sulfate and Glucosamine Hydrochloride. Additionally it is often combined with a partner supplement known as Chondroitin.
WHY? Please note that I am not making medical claims. Studies have varied in results and you should make your own educated evaluation. As well, I personally experience a benefit from supplementing with Glucosamine, but different people’s bodies likely respond at varying levels. Glucosamine has been shown to help protect, lubricate, and cushion cartilage. There have also been indications that it helps your own body in the strengthening of ligaments and tendons as well. I do notice a difference in my fluidity of motion and also a reduction in pain. This is most noticeable in my spine and more specifically, I notice when I’ve forgotten to take it for a few days. Also, although there is not scientific research behind this, I have been climbing for 12 years now and have not had a single bout with tendonitis or major finger tendon injury. And only one or two minor tweaks in my A2 pulley of my ring finger which were pain free in less than a week. This lack of injury may or may not be a result of my years of Glucosamine supplementing.
WHO? First off, and probably the most obvious climbers that would benefit from supplementing with Glucosamine, are the boulderers. The repetitive jarring of the hip, knee, and ankle joints can be very wearing on the joints. I would personally recommend it to anyone 30 years or older, or even earlier as I began supplementing around 24 years old. Most manufacturers suggest that children under 12 years of age, pregnant or nursing women, or those with medical conditions like diabetes and hypoglycemia, should consult a physician before use. Also, those with seafood allergies should check with a physician as it is most often derived from the shells of crustaceans.
WHEN? Most varieties I have seen recommend taking Glucosamine twice daily with meals. Although, as Chris Sharma talks about so often, learn to listen to your body.
WHERE? There are so many brand names and likely just as many retailers that supply supplements. I do have my personal recommendation on a particular brand based on their quality and industry efficacy standards plus their unmatched Satisfaction Guarantee. I will not force that brand on you but would love the opportunity to share two things with you, provided you are interested in supplementing. First is the brand, reputation, and standards. And second is an opportunity to have your personal supplementation support the climbing community directly. Click on the following link or the Nutrition Partnership link on the top left for details.
Next month I will continue digging into Chris Sharma’s quote by discussing “plant-based vitamins”.
~ Climb 4 Real ~