An alternative gym for your faux resolution: @climbsoill

I dislike new year’s resolutions. I never stick to them, but to be honest- I rarely make them. I also dislike that most people put so much weight and emotion into them. I hear people say all these things about what they want to change, and they make unrealistic goals, and then rarely follow through. This, in turn, makes them feel like a failure and then they feel worse than before they started their resolutioning. Aside from that, January 1st is really just any other day… Sure, it’s a federal holiday, but so is Thanksgiving, and most people resolve to eat their weight in pumpkin pie instead of running 10 miles a day. Anyway, I digress. The point is, I am not making any New Year’s Resolution(s). There.

But, I gotta say, I am excited for the new year. My husband starts his new job at WashU (same place as me) in the same department and we’re both ghosts. Ahem, I mean, post-docs. We are living in the same city (big excite), for the first time in over two years (!!!!), and we can finally be whatever honeymooners or newlyweds are (i.e., people who are recently married?) without the annoyance of the long-distance relationship. And, even better, we can do fun things together anytime we want. Like ride our trainers (that’s fun, right?) or go cling onto fake rocks indoors (that sounds like more fun).

Speaking of fake rocks: Climb So ILL is a new climbing gym in St Louis  (<1 yr old) that, well, very much rocks. As you may or may not know, I like to do stuff. I like running, cycling, swimming, stuff that doesn’t really require too much organizing but gets me moving, usually outdoors, but to be honest, I really don’t care if I’m on a treadmill or trainer. And, for as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved climbing. I climbed at summer camp in middle school. I dabbled a bit as an undergrad (and bought my first pair of climbing shoes when I studied abroad in Christchurch, New Zealand). When I lived in Bozeman, I’d venture to Whiskey Gulch and the Pass for some bouldering and top-roping where I’d be scared out of my mind and my BFF would make fun of me. I even attempted Tour de Hyalite a few times (but did not fair well).  I had my first gym pass of any kind at a climbing gym called Spire for a few months, before my shoulders got huge and I was told I looked to burly by strangers and guys I dated. I hindsight, they were not very nice guys. When I went back to Michigan for my PhD, I met a handsome, sinewy fellow and I introduced him to the sport of climbing. On one of our first dates, we went bouldering in a creek bed. That’s not a euphemism. Five years later, I married that guy. He got ridiculously better at climbing when he moved to Fort Collins, and I got weaksauce when I moved to St Louis. Anyway, I’ve been itching to get back into climbing, and I have been wanting to join So ILL for a while now; nearly every time Baberaham came to visit me in St Louis over the last year, we’d make a trip to Lafayette Square to get a day pass and cling on rocks for a few hours until our fingers screamed and our skin ripped open, literally. I bribed him to move here by offering to pay for monthly memberships (am I kidding?), and it worked. So now, settled into the Square ourselves (in a kickass loft), we are officially members of ClimbSoILL (and of course, living together).


ClimbSoILL a really sweet gym. It’s clean and well-maintained, which probably has a bit to do with it being so new, but the owners and staff actually do a great job at keeping it that way (they wash the mats a few times a week, and I see them cleaning often). The gym offers more than just the basic top-rope and auto-belay climbing, too. At 55′, the walls are tall, and there are clinics to learn how to sport climb and lead climb offered regularly (and other benefits, too; like beginner climbing lessons, and even private lessons by legit climbers). Occasionally, famous climbers I’ve only ever seen in climbing porn make appearances and set routes at this gym. That’s neat. Also, the high wall routes are color coded not by tape, but by the color of the holds, since So ILL is also a hold design and manufacturing company.


The bouldering area is absolutely fantastic. Lots of projects to choose from, exclusively bouldering (no worries of top ropers above you), and the routes are turned over every 6 weeks by professional route setters (there are three full-time PRO setters that work here). Sure, the routes aren’t named other than by their rating (VBasic to V stuff I can’t do), but they are fun, reachy, and challenging, and make me focus on core strength and static movements instead of dyno’ing all over the place.


And its not just bouldering and big walls. The gym includes a training area in the basement that has a training wall, boards, a set of rings and free weights/medicine balls. Plus, there are fitness labs practically every night during the week- from strength and conditioning, to climbing-specific circuits, and even yoga. That’s rad.


So, needless to say, I am pretty excited about progressing to become a stronger athlete, and incorporating climbing into the mix. I am excited to climb again after a lull, and I’m up for the challenge to get better at this and to be able to do more. Even after just under a week, I already feel myself progressing and being able to do moves that I couldn’t accomplish a week ago. Over the years, I’ve been a sponge and have learned a lot about how to become a better endurance athlete. I definitely think climbing can help make me a more powerful athlete as well. Plus, it’s just plain damn fun. For more info on Climb So ILL’s gym in Lafayette Square, or to join (for mega-cheap!), visit their website here.