By: Karl Monger
This command tells your climbing buddy that you’ve got him. You are literally watching his back, and should he slip or tire, or should the rock surface give way you are the only thing standing between him and death or serious injury.
Climbing is applicable to virtually every area of your life, and fits solidly within each of GallantFew’s Functional Fitness areas of the STAR, which stands for Self-Training and Response-ability.
Functional Physical Fitness
Climbing is a stealth workout. Many of us dread the drudgery of a gym workout, the non-social environment full of steel and mirrors, or have injuries or wounds that prevent activities we enjoy such as running or combatives. You’re there to have fun – but you soon find out you are working the entire body, and that your core is becoming more solid. Have back pain? The stronger your core, the less back pain you will feel. Climbing also elevates your heart rate, improving your cardio. It builds endurance.
Functional Emotional Fitness
Since leaving active duty, when is the last time you were responsible for someone’s life? It’s impossible to climb without trust. Your life in my hands, mine in yours. When you’re on the wall, or when you are on belay, there is no room to worry about how you are going to pay the rent, or whether a relationship is going to work out. There is only focus. There is clarity.
Functional Spiritual Fitness
Isolation crushes your spirit. Set-backs in relationships, school, work, and even in care from the VA drives many veterans into isolation and substance abuse. Becoming connected with a group of like-minded people prevents that isolation. It elevates your self-confidence, encourages strong friendships which in turn feeds your spirit. Helping and teaching new climbers what you’ve learned sparks a sense of purpose. When you take your climbing to the outdoors you reconnect with nature. You see the grandeur of creation. You put your existence into perspective and outside problems don’t exist there.
Functional Social Fitness
It’s fun! You are surrounded by people with the same goals, people who enjoy both climbing and the company it provides. It’s not focused on alcohol, which is a major stumbling block for many veterans – although it’s supremely enjoyable to feel the cold of a beer can on your stinging, post-climb hands.
Functional Professional Fitness
When you are in better condition mentally, spiritually and physically, you perform better at work and school. You focus better, you can keep in focus that which is truly important.
For over three years, GallantFew has hosted veteran climbing twice a week at Summit Climbing Gym in Grapevine Texas. Funded by a grant from Metroport Rotary Club, over fifty veterans have participated. Some dreaded coming into a crowded, noisy space to try an activity that appears intimidating – but once they got on the wall, problems melted away. Several have gone on to learn advanced climbing techniques and are teaching and coaching others. Join us! Climb on!
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