Journey to fitness

Iman shares how rock climbing and bouldering helped her get out of a workout rut.



YouAlberta is written by students for students.

Iman (she/her) is a fourth-year Science, Technology and Society major in the Faculty of Arts. Born and raised in Edmonton, her current goal is to identify her true passions by trying new things. When not writing, you can find her reading, listening to music, making games, or perfecting the art of coffee! Iman enjoys getting to know new people and meeting friends while grabbing a coffee or a bubble tea.

Fitness is a journey that plays out differently for everyone. Some of us enjoy it more than others, and some do it out of sheer necessity. There are different ways to keep your body healthy, and it’s an experience unique to every person – one where you need to find out for yourself what is best suited to you. 

I was always the kind of kid that hated going to gym class, hated sports and often dreaded intramurals. (Unless it was dodgeball, of course.) I hated the weird anxiety that came with team sports and games like kickball. It was never any fun for me, which was weird because everyone else loved gym. It was a break from being stuck at our desks all day. But until we were playing with the rainbow parachute or the little sliding scooters, I wanted nothing to do with it. This, of course, carried over into my adult life. 

I’m not one that has ever been keen on going to the gym or playing sports as a recreational activity. Growing older and realizing that my physical health is all up to me now (and not just a mandatory slot in my schedule) began to weigh on me. I started to feel guilty for not prioritizing it. So during the pandemic, knowing I had nothing better to do, I began with the easiest thing I could think of. Daily walks. I’m sure this term triggers memories for many, but just like a lot of us, my walks did not last long. It was a walk every day, which I tried to turn into daily runs (this ended up only happening once), which eventually turned into casual evening strolls with my family. This wasn’t working, so I tried following along with home workout videos. This also did not make it past one week - that journey ended there. 

Once we were able to venture out in public again, it felt like there was so much to do with my life. So many places were available to me, and there were so many people to see and things to do. So I grabbed a friend and tried going to the gym regularly. This gym stint was also short-lived, but it did provide me with a lot of insight into new crises I didn’t know I would ever have. First of all, I only really enjoyed cardio. Secondly, I realized going to the gym alone was terrifying. Trying to figure out how new machines worked was stressful every time, but worst of all for me was planning my workouts. I realized how many different parts of your body there are to train, and if I was going to go, I wanted to do everything right. 

My issue started when I couldn’t plan my workouts without somehow feeling like I had missed something vital. I hated splitting my workouts up into specific target days, and it just did not seem to work for a person like me. Maybe it was something I had to get used to, or maybe I just didn’t allow myself enough time? But it got to a point where I stopped going entirely because I could not be bothered to plan, and I could not work up the courage to go alone. 

There are other options out there for people like me who can’t commit to all the effort involved in a regular gym routine and prefer a light workout for everything all at once, which is what I started to explore next. I tried pilates and yoga. Both of these I really enjoyed, but it was an issue of working up the confidence to do this alone in public. There are very accessible places for us right on campus. The Hanson Fitness & Lifestyle Center is close by and has space for everything you may want to do. They have a wide variety of machines to use, as well as a really big free-weight section. There is also empty floor space to lay out a mat and follow along with all the fitness videos your heart desires. Somewhere in this timeline, I managed to catch COVID, which lasted longer than it should have. This caused me to develop a whole set of other issues like extreme fatigue, weakness and asthma, which kept me from doing much. I stopped going to the gym entirely. 

Soon after, though, I found myself not wanting to go back on my own, and I realized I was still on the hunt for something that suited my tastes better. I was still having trouble committing to anything. That’s when I was introduced to the world of rock climbing and bouldering, a sport that has recently regained a lot of popularity. This was something I particularly enjoyed when I was younger, and never thought to take it up again. 

Bouldering didn’t require any planning. I was finally given the liberty to just go in and start climbing, which felt like it worked out all my muscles. And the best part was, leaving with my muscles all loose and tired made me feel accomplished - a sensation I wasn’t always getting at the gym because it was so dependent on what I had planned for myself and whether or not I was able to hit that goal. Bouldering is an interesting sport because it requires you to use your brain while working your body, and there isn’t any worry of getting bored or tired of a routine because it’s so different every time. 

This goes to say that there is definitely something out there for everyone, as long as you’re willing to take the first step and try. Finding what workout is right for you is like solving a puzzle that you are a part of. What stood out to me the most with this sport is the community that comes along with it as compared to any other sport I’ve personally encountered. Lucky for us U of A students, we also have a rock climbing gym right on campus! If it piques your interest, I encourage you to check it out.