Pre-quarantine, I was getting pretty strong. I’d climb three times a week, and had just started climbing in the Blueys (Blue Mountains of Austrlia) again post the devastating bushfires. But then restrictions on both indoor and outdoor climbing flooded in, so climbing was out of the picture.
The first few weeks of quarantine were dire. I was flat out working from home and barely left my couch. In a few Zoom meetings, I dabbled with my 2kg weights and went for a jog (ok more of a walk) in the rain out of desperation.
Along with the rest of Australia, I went on a home exercise equipment shopping spree and my lounge room quickly filled with a range of items, some of which I’d never really use – cue my two 6-kg kettlebells.
I do love my 10kg weight vest though.
When it first arrived, I wore it to a work meeting, which seemed like a good idea, but it actually cut off my circulation! Once I’d mastered it, I also ordered some wrist and ankle weights. For a challenge, I walked around my neighbourhood with all weights on (over 15kg). Needless to say, I got some very strange looks. I think the weight vest is often mistaken for a bulletproof vest…
Then Easter hit. Lockdown. Police threatened to arrest anyone straying too far from home. This was a definite low point for me.
But then suddenly, post-Easter, I began to feel like I had finally gotten into the ISO groove.
I dialed a friend.
I’m more motivated to exercise with others, so I called my buddy and we started weekly Zoom exercise classes. (A massive shout-out to Climbfit Kirrawee and St. Leonard’s for their Facebook videos.) We’ve done everything from abs and core to legs to strength and have tried some unusual techniques involving toilet paper, a broom, four cans, a towel and even couch-lifting. The couch lifting was not so successful mind you!
I got competitive.
For the last few years, I’ve only ever been able to do three pull-ups at a time, but over the following weeks, I went from three to eight! And my max was 45 in one day (thanks to my pull-up bar that was really only ever a hazard previously). What made me so competitive? A simple post-it note tallying up how many pull-ups I’d done that day.
Then came the Step Challenge at my work, so I walked during the day whilst ‘working’. Like most people, I started off exploring my local area but then ended up doing some longer hikes, including the deserted coastal walk and part of the Oxfam track.
And I got back on rock.
When regulations relaxed a little, I went outdoors again to Stanwell Tops, Mount Gibraltar, The Blueys, and even The Cathedral. I started off quite weak and whingey, but after a few weeks, coupled with the exercise I was doing, I got a fair bit stronger.
My head game still needs work, particularly whilst leading, and on traverses – in spite of my climbing buddy miraculously finding a traverse every single time we climb. But that will take time.
So for now I’ll make do with my ‘bulletproof’ (weight) vest, Zoom exercise classes, pull-up bar, the Step Challenge and climbing outdoors once a week in remote locations at a suitable distance.
Post lock-down, I’m keen to get back to the climbing gym, work again towards my lofty ambitions to second Yesterday’s Groove and Samarkand with my climbing buddy, Tim and I’m really looking forward to weekends away cragging with the rest of my climbing buddies. I am also wondering where I can secretly install a pull-up bar when I go back to the office…