A size-36 waistline and a beer belly should be enough reason for anyone – yes, including myself – to take up a sport.
Fritz and Eloisa suggested wall-climbing, which me and my girlfriend Jam were more than eager to take. She’s much more fit than I am (if you take up vice, you’re anything but “physically fit” no matter how many exercises you take up), and she took up climbing lessons before, so I was pretty much the group’s beginner. With a pair of uncomfortable climbing shoes, I was all set.
“We really don’t have any need for wall-climbing in modern society,” I told Jam.
“Just think of it as a way for you to lose weight,” Jam replied.
There began my journey into physical fitness… or at least, the wall that stood between me and the rest of the afternoon.
For a guy who can consume four family-size packs of chips and around two liters of Coca-Cola in a given working day, I’m anything but a living, shining example of good health and physical fitness. (The “pink of health” cannot exist in my wardrobe, either.) Following the logic of a certain Presidential candidate, I couldn’t run for President. I couldn’t run, period. Stairs tire me out, and I couldn’t be counted on to carry a 5-gallon jug of water to anywhere. Needless to say, I’m a wuss. There’s some added motivation of having to buy shorts at the department store, and admit to three sales ladies that you now wear a size-36.
Indoor wall-climbing, though, came a bit naturally for me considering the number of walls and fences I had to scale when I was younger. By “younger,” I mean when I was still a teenager. At 24 turning on 25, you start using keys to get to the back door of your house, and you no longer have to do amateur Parkour to get across the neighborhood when you’re running late. You start developing the joint problems that come with a steady diet of junk food, and your belly shows signs of buckets of beer you down in any given day, whether you’re depressed or not.
I was on the wall when I was even more discouraged with the sight of both Jam and Eloisa belaying me. Plus, a kid 10 years younger than I am, with thicker glasses than I am wearing, was climbing that wall a’la Spiderman. There’s nothing like the feeling of being high up on the wall belayed by two girls, while a boy climbs alongside you with the ease of a comic-book superhero.
I pushed on, grabbing on holds, thinking along like lines of Tomb Raider. I made that mental promise to myself that one day, I’ll be swinging along poles randomly extended along buildings and walls and escape the crushing impact of a giant brass globe rolling along the incline. Life doesn’t exactly offer save points when that happens. Even if the harness was cutting uncomfortably into my groin.
All this was going on when I was climbing a wall that was supposed to be the easiest at Centro Atletico. Then I reached the top. Success! I said silently. All I had to do was to wait for my belayers to get me down.
“The ropes look a little tangled,” Fritz shouted from below. Oh crap, I muttered, thinking I’ll probably stay there, hanging on stupidly from holds on top of a wall, with the risk of my hair getting ripped apart by rope. I gently pushed away from the tangled ropes, as the girls belayed me down from the wall.
“Go for another wall,” Jam said. I ended up doing three. That, coupled with a hearty dinner of bulalo afterward, was enough for me to take this up again for a few more weeks. I lost a few grams of weight and ended up with very, very cramped arms, but hey, the road to physical fitness is wrought with the irregular footholds of indoor climbing walls… or something like it.
Then I’ll take up something more interesting, like, say, Bikram Yoga. Or some other Eastern meditative ritual where I get sandwiched between a beg of nails while people break cinderblocks on my awesomely ripped, rock-hard abs. I’ll give myself 400 more climbs until I reach that.
Until then, get your grubby hands off my Jack N’ Jill Potato Chips.