So during my time at UCB, there’s been one hobby I started during my first year and kept up regularly, bouldering. Bouldering is a type of rock climbing where you have no rope or harness, the walls are smaller than rope climbing and tend to involve lots of overhanging walls and tricky ‘problems’ to solve by climbing with specific techniques. During my first year, I lived at home in Coventry and started going bouldering with a couple of my friends from secondary school. Once I moved into the Maltings for my second year, I got a student membership at Depot Climbing Centre in Birmingham and since then, have been going three or four times a week when we haven’t been in a lockdown.
I always felt a bit out of place with sports at school and never got involved with them, but as I got older, regular exercise became something I really needed in my life. So, at first, I started going to the gym, which I found quite intimidating because I didn’t really know anyone who worked out and I was clueless at what I was doing. Each time I’d turn up, use a variety of machines probably wrong and have no real aim. So my attendance was always sporadic and eventually, I just didn’t go. I think if I went back, I’d definitely get a workout buddy or a trainer to help with that.
Bouldering offered me something different because the aim was always clear; get to the top of the wall! When you climb, you have to think a bit laterally about how you are going to scale a route, it’s not always immediately obvious. Most centres are fairly large, and the routes change regularly, so you avoid ending up in ruts of the same thing that can turn you off. Its also a really friendly environment and I’ve always felt really comfortable climbing there.
Since I started going, I’ve seen huge improvements to my health, I’m stronger and more flexible, but the real benefit is to my mental health. It gives me a sense of achievement and an escape from my frequent bouts of stress. I also feel so much more confident in my body than before, I don’t care about being bigger or skinner or whatever, whereas I used to feel extremely uncomfortable with my body and found situations like taking my top off at the beach really difficult. Now my relationship with my body is much better, I know it can get me to finish that long overhang route and I’m really happy with it.
If you get the chance, I definitely recommend you give rock climbing a go, I really love it. Hope everyone has a good week, I’ve really been struggling with feeling anxious and stuck, and from conversations I’ve had with lots of my friends, its happening to many of us. So if you can, reach out to those around you and listen to how people are doing.