As someone who has never been particularly sporty, the idea of physical activity always seemed a bit scary. But earlier this year, I discovered Bouldering, a type of free-climbing without ropes, and it’s one of the most empowering, motivating and relaxing things I have ever done.
I’ve been climbing at The Climbing Hangar in Liverpool, which is a huge, bouldering-dedicated climbing centre with 1000 square metres of weird and wonderful climbs, which they switch-up every week to keep you on your toes.
What I love most about climbing is how you could be the world number one, at the top of your game, just in for an afternoon of training, or a complete and utter beginner, getting to grips (weeey) with the simplest of runs. Your experience is exactly the same, you’re treated exactly the same and your love of the sport is exactly the same. They place the most challenging climbs next to some of the most straight-forward, meaning those of all strengths and abilities can climb together – which has come in handy for me with the alarming amount of friends I have who are amaze-balls at it.
So, I rock up (weeey) on a Monday night after work, gross from a day at the office and ready to get even more gross with some chalk and some climbing shoes. I scan myself in at the front desk and walk towards the changing rooms, when I spot Shauna Coxsey – one of my heroes and the current Bouldering female world champion – chilling like a villain in the hangar cafe.
Stay calm, keep walking, she’s surrounded by people admiring her, just keep walking, go and get ready and look like a pro, it’s totally fine.
I continue to the changing room and – you’ve guessed it – get changed. I lock my stuff away and head back to the cafe, assuming Shauna to be gone and the opportunity to chat to her missed and forever lost to oblivion. Shame, but at least I can now grab a bottle of water from the cafe. But lo and behold – there she is, no longer being mobbed, but people watching. I LIKE PEOPLE WATCHING TOO, WE HAVE SO MUCH IN COMMON.
It happens before I realise I’ve actually had the courage to go and speak to her. I catch her eye and smile goofily.
“Can I just fangirl over you for a second?” I ask, approaching tentatively (did I just ask her permission to fangirl?).
“Um, yeah?” She replies (OH MY GOD I’M TALKING TO SHAUNA COXSEY).
“It’s so cool to meet you! I’m a big fan, I’ve not been climbing for very long but when my friend Tom told me you were his future wife, I found you online and saw that you train here and I think you’re awesome.” I gush.
“Aha! Well, my boyfriend may not be too happy about that…” We laugh and I can feel the friendship growing already.
I think I’ve creeped her out sufficiently, so I say goodbye, shake her hand and leave her be. I buy a bottle of water, head over to the nearest wall and immediately scale it like Spiderman (because after chatting with Shauna, I automatically became amazing at climbing – it’s true).
Had I not been so goofy and embarrassing, I would have said something more along the lines of:
“Shauna, you’re my hero. You’re an awesome role model for young wome and the things I’ve seen you do are practically superhuman. You make me believe in myself and in the things I’ve been able to do since I started climbing, and I want to thank you for giving me the most self-belief and strength I think I’ve ever had. So yeah, you’re great and it’s really nice to meet you. Now, here’s my number, let’s hang out and be best friends some time, yes?”
Maybe not exactly like that…
I texted Tom after I left to tell him of my encounter with his future wife. He was less than impressed.
To find out more about Shauna, click here.