Blogging Fitness: Keep your relationship off the rocks by getting on the ropes

A young couple keeps their marriage fresh by rock climbing and staying active together.

I am always proud to say that fitness is my first love; however, fitness can also play quite well into a relationship. In an effort to keep things fresh and interesting, I believe it’s important for couples to encourage one another to be active and try new challenges.

They do it on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, don’t they?

I am just teasing – I am not suggesting that show is a positive model for a sustainable relationship. But, I do believe couples can become closer when they try new adventures together. Not to mention, get those endorphins flowing and no one will be cranky, right?

I looked to one of my favorite young, married couple at work as inspiration for this article. Morgan and Derek are these edgy, kind-hearted souls who are always on a quest for that next adventure. Whether it is getting hitched in Vegas to rock climbing and belaying each other, they know how to keep the relationship exciting.

morgan-rock-climbing“[Working out together] It’s important because it helps us work on communication and teamwork,” Morgan said. “Also, it’s super cool to get a ton of compliments from Derek when I’m doing a good job. It’s nice to know when someone is proud of you. It helps us trust each other more also.

“Also, I really like seeing him progress as a climber. It’s a really neat thing to see him outside the role of husband and watch him as a climber. Plus, it makes both of us happy, which makes us in a more positive mood at home.”

Besides the mental benefits rock climbing can lend, there are many ways it can enhance your physical appearance, strengthening and toning muscles. I worked at an indoor rock climbing wall in college and it was such an intense workout. I thought it would only challenge my strength. Oh no – it challenged my heart rate as well. It was pumping and my entire body was shaking. Ignorantly, I thought only my arms would be doing the heavy lifting, but the legs are where you really get your umph to keep on climbing to the top.

When I was rock climbing on a regular basis, I noticed an increase in my flexibility. In turn, this encouraged me to improve my stretching even more. I then wanted to advance my yoga and Pilates practices. I love how fitness can do that for you. It reminds of the children’s book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. You have one thing and then that makes you want something else in addition to that. It’s like a domino effect. You are just reminded and inspired to try something else as your confidence raises and you can’t get enough.

“Rock climbing is great for your confidence and sense of accomplishment,” Derek said. “Occasionally, I still hit the regular gym for some weights and cardio, and at the end of my workout, I just feel tired and worn out. Conversely, after a good 3-hour climbing session, I feel awesome. Especially after climbing hard routes or even just completing a section of a route that I haven’t been able to do before. Also, climbing is a great way to stay fit with friends. The atmosphere at the climbing gym is very social.”

The If You Give a Mouse a Cookie effect is hitting Morgan as well. She has found a new fitness love in addition to her rock climbing endeavors. As she began feeling even more fit and fabulous with rock climbing, she was encouraged to try yoga. But listen folks, not just any yoga. She kicked it up several degrees and becoming a dedicated yoga student in the practice of Bikram Yoga. Bikram Yoga is a system of yoga that Bikram Choudhury created from traditional yoga techniques and it became popular in the early 1970s. Bikram Yoga classes last 90 minutes apiece and consist of a series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. The temperature is typically 105°F with a humidity of 40%, so it has naturally been affectionately coined as a form of hot yoga.

“Rock climbing gave me confidence in myself by seeing that I could go from a zero upper body strength girl, to a chick that could get up walls that some men couldn’t get up,” Morgan said. “I started thinking if I could do that, then I could do anything I set my mind to and worked for. Plus, being that high off the ground used to terrify me. Now I’m not scared at all. It’s taught me that some of the things I thought were scary and impossible at first, aren’t that bad at all, and are usually pretty fun. I’ve been inspired to attain other goals that once would have seemed impossible.”

Morgan recently completed a Bikram Yoga 60-day challenge where she had to complete 60 90-minute Bikram Yoga sessions in a matter of 60 days. She passed with flying colors and is already brainstorming for her next fitness feat.

“I have been so much more of an active person since I started climbing,” Morgan said. “Not only that, but I have learned the lesson of how important it is to stay positive, focused, and set goals for yourself.”

derek-rock-climbingWith Morgan and Derek romping around, knocking out all these fitness goals, it encourages me to share that with my boyfriend, instead of accomplishing my fitness goals in solitude. Perhaps we will attempt rock climbing together or a spin class. Either way, I know I will be a bit competitive and of course want to do my best. I can’t have him upstaging me – or at least not go down without a fight!

For those of us who are out of the rock climbing practice (me) or who maybe have never been rock climbing, it can be incredibly intimidating to tackle this fitness monster. Will the rope be able to hold me up? Will it fray and I will topple to a massive injury? Will people laugh at me when I can’t even get 10 feet off the ground?

I know all these thoughts ran through my head the first time I rock climbed and to be honest, these thoughts still run through my head. It made me feel better to know Morgan shared a similar sentiment as I did, but look at her now!

“I had no idea what I was doing,” Morgan said. “Once I got to the top, which took forever, I was so scared to let go of the wall and come down. Derek and a staff member had to talk me into letting go. I was ready for someone to come get me with a ladder. I was terrified. It was so ridiculous I was up there hanging on for life, laughing at myself for being scared to come down.”

Now, once you get past the initial fear and become a rock wall master, you might think it sounds a bit monotonous. Don’t fret- there is always a new technique to conquer and you will be back at square run feeling like a fool in no time. But then of course, you will continue to fight like a champion and you will be ready for the next goal.

Bouldering is another form of rock climbing that I have yet to try. Whenever I see people performing this technique at the gym, I think of Spiderman. With this practice, the climber is meandering through various routes without being harnessed. The wall is obviously much lower to the ground and a “crash pad” is placed underneath in case of a slippery fall. Some times these climbers are literally holding on for dear life, being completely upside down. Derek has also felt inspired from his active lifestyle and decided to compete in a bouldering competition. He placed second at the intermediate level and is already planning his next competition.

“Placing second in the first round of the competition series inspired me to train harder so that I can continue to do well and finish out the series on top,” Derek said.

So, I think we can all look to Morgan and Derek for some creativity in keeping the romance alive. I know that I want to “copy” them a little bit and have those feelings of encouragement and pride in my boyfriend. Let’s all get our bums off the couch and into the gym. A little excitement never hurt anyone; perhaps it will be the one thing that keeps that relationship up and running.

“Without working out together, it would be pretty boring,” Derek said. “Staying active gives us activities to do together, things to talk about and a way to bond outside of living together.”



Kimber_WestphallKimberly Westphall is the author of Blogging Fitness and a regular contributor to Midwest Sports Fans.

She attended the University of Kansas where she majored in Journalism. She participated in a podcast with Jerod, which will help you get to know her even better. While at KU, she was an anchor and online web producer for Jayhawk Sports Talk.

Kimberly made her MSF debut in 2009 discussing the fight between Kansas’ basketball and football teams and also had her column about the Dallas Stars Ice Girls featured at Dallas Sports Fans.

She also is a reporter for where she reports on positive, uplifting news in the DFW Metroplex.

She has a passion for fitness and is on the lookout for emerging fitness trends and workouts. Her favorite group exercise format is kickboxing, and when she’s not hitting up the aerobics studio, Kimberly is training for her second marathon: Disneyworld 2011.

Follow Kimberly on Twitter: @Fit_Trip_Kimber


  1. This is a great article, and totally true! My fiance and I met rock climbing and have been climbing partners for a few years now. It's a great way to bond with your partner and help the two of you experience new and exciting things together. One of the best perks is that climbing takes you to some off-the-path and beautiful locations. For instance, we went on a trip to New Zealand, and in a small town where most tourist just window shopped and ate at the restaurants, we climbed the side of a 400 foot water fall, and it was a mind blowing experience that we got to share together. Kudos to Derek and Morgan, they sound like awesome people :)

  2. Excellent article, Kimberly. Really good tie-in with children's literature (not to be belittled–lots of good lessons there) as well as with romance, lifetime happiness, and of course, exercise. Solid writing.

  3. Wow this makes me want to go camping with my boyfriend and become more adventurous! Thanks for another great article Kimberly!


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