Updated: Jul 6, 2020
It's a bandwagon we jumped on almost exactly one year ago to this day; and with the exception of Mike, we had no previous experience at all. Without sounding like an absolute wimp, I was also scared of heights, things like getting in and out the loft were major problems for me. Something which I'd say is pretty much a thing of the past, although from time to time (like the final move on the route in the video below) there's a move that gets the best of me. So here's some things that if I could, I would have explained to the last-year-me, and maybe if you're just starting out they might even be helpful.
If you're actually taking it up as a hobby, buy chalk and shoes. Both of which you could probably get at your climbing gym, but especially for the shoes it might be worth shopping around and getting a good price. I think mine cost around £60; but at £3 a go for shoe hire it makes sense, also, you can go climbing wherever you like. (We went on a climbing trip to the Peak District after only climbing for 3 months, and it was awesome; I made a terrible vlog about it last year but I guess it could be useful, and a better blog which might also be useful). Right here is a compilation of my Year 1 Progress...
Learn some decent stretching routines. No really you need to. Personally I focus a lot on my hip mobility and legs, and to be honest have found recently that I lack so much flexibility in my back, so what I'm saying is you might as well cover all the bases. There's loads of videos on YouTube for basic yoga tutorials, and even on Pinterest too. Find what you're comfortable with and roll with that, but just make sure you do. Don't get caught up on too much technicality. In the early stages especially, it's almost vital to do some research, I found watching tonnes of YouTube videos really helpful; especially around body movement and footwork. Whilst it is really important, I think on reflection, it's also really important to just find your own flow; you know like in Cool Runnings, things don't go so well when they're emulating the swiss...but when they get all 'kiss the lucky egg' they loosen up and find their flow. (NB. carrying eggs whilst bouldering is not advised). Just like they say with gambling, when the fun stops, stop. But like, only for a couple of weeks. I've recently gone back to climbing after an 8 week break and it's by far been one of the best things I could have done. You might feel some sort of pressure, that if you take a break you're missing out on valuable improvements. I stopped going because I had 2 sessions in a row in October where I left in a worse mood than I arrived. My body was done in, and I was getting more and more frustrated at not improving. I wish I had taken more breaks through the year, so maybe try that, if nothing else, for your body to fully recover. One of the unexpected outcomes of taking up climbing, is how much it's just generally been good for me. It really is an all round work-out, and you can often find you spend just as much time sitting down, looking up at a route and puzzling over it, than you do actually climbing on it. A huge development too is that you have no choice but to harness a growth mindset, at almost every visit you'll overcome or push a personal boundary, whether it's physical or psychological, it's a powerful thing to be doing each week and no doubt has an impact on your general wellbeing.
I think, maybe that's it. So I'll leave you with this video of me, which at first I thought was a bit of a fail, but looking back over the year, to be at this point is actually awesome. Sure there's tonnes of better climbers, there always always will be. I've come to the conclusion that the sole ambition for any climber, is to be falling off routes of increasing difficulty. Take a look around, everyone's failing, so don't be embarrassed if you are too!