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Posts Tagged ‘Ray and Joan Kroc Center’

Trying out the kRock Wall!

I’m a Salvation Army bell ringer, but not the kind who stands at the mall with a red kettle. The bell in question is small and white with a red Salvation Army logo emblazoned on its side, and to ring it, you need to climb to the top of the Kroc Center’s new rock climbing wall.

Wednesday night was my second time in the new Kroc facility.  My husband and I are still deciding on which gym to join for the cold winter months when I have to put my bike away (awww), so in order to “try before we buy” we got some guest passes and headed down for a workout.  Guest passes are $7.50 per day, and are very worthwhile if you like to get a feel for a facility before you purchase a membership.

We started our workout on the new Matrix treadmills. I was pretty excited to try these out. They feature video runs where you can select a setting — I picked Utah Canyon country — and then as you run, the video displays a “trail” you can run through.  I liked that it gave little facts about the scenery you were passing as you ran, and that the incline adjusted automatically to match the trail.

After the treadmills, Justin and I headed over to some of the weight equipment.  I tried the assisted pull-ups machine, then the pull-down bar, then the tricep-working arm deal.  I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that I’m no weight lifter. The gym staff was friendly though, and they were happy to explain machines, even if I wasn’t all that happy to try them.

Justin knows his way around a gym, so he took off to do more upper-body workout machines while I decided to try out the video bikes. The video bikes are simply awesome.  I mean, it’s not the same as riding outdoors, but it turns working out into a game, and I really enjoyed that.  Basically, you pick a course on the screen and you pedal to complete it. The neat part is that you have to control the bike just like you would a real bicycle. It has shifters and handlebars that move, and you steer around the course, dodge other riders and trek up and down hills with appropriate resistance.   I’ll admit — I may have run a few other riders off the road and down cliffs just to see what would happen — but I promise I’d never do that on my real bike.

When I was properly exhausted, I went to find my husband and my jacket. I was headed for the exit when the imposing rock wall caught my eye. There were three guys standing at the wall, and when one of them saw me looking up, he waved me over.

Justin does some pull-ups on the new equipment.

The guys explained that every other Wednesday is, “Ladies’ Night Up,” where women get to try the kRock Wall for free! I may have been exhausted, but I wasn’t going to let a free climbing opportunity pass me by.  A rock wall volunteer named Zlatko set me up with a harness. He explained the double figure 8 knot and a fisherman’s knot as he made them, and then pointed out the route I’d be taking up the wall. The beginner’s route was set up to be a ladder-like climb where you always have four good points of contact on the wall.

I started and quickly figured out a few things about climbing. The first thing I learned was the closer my body was to the wall, the easier it was on my arms. The next important thing I learned was that climbing isn’t all upper body strength anyway. You can use your legs and stand up on each new step, and that takes a lot of the strain out of your arms.

I got a little stuck about halfway up the wall, so I decided to take the plunge and let go. The auto-belay system lowered me gently to the ground and was actually really fun.  I looked back at the spot that had me stuck, and after some consideration, I decided I wanted to give the wall one more try. This time, the volunteers suggested that instead of the auto-belay system, they’d set me up on a rope-belay that they controlled. The advantage was that if I needed to rest a second or shake my arms out, they could take my weight and keep me on the wall.

Volunteer rock instructor Zlatko Masic nears the top of the wall at the Quincy Kroc Center.

I set out on my second attempt, bound for the little white bell. The first section was easy, and I got past the place I’d been stuck before. I was three-fourths of the way up and the bell was in sight. I asked Zlatko to hold me for a second, I shook out my arms, and then made the final push to the top.  Then, I reached out and rang the bell!  It felt amazing!

I hope you all get the chance to go and experience the new Kroc Center.  Without fail, every member of the staff was helpful and friendly, and whether you’re learning the weight equipment or the rock wall, they’ll be glad to teach you what you need to know.  I also hope you give climbing a chance. Two trips up that wall and I’m totally addicted.  I’m even planning a trip to Upper Limits Rock Gym in St. Louis for a lesson or two. The next “Ladies’ Up Night” at the Kroc Center will be Wednesday, Nov. 2. I know that I’ll be there and I hope you are too!

For more info on the Kroc Center, visit http://www.krocquincy.org/

Original Post October 21, 2011

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