When I look back, last year was a bit of a blur and my blog took a back seat whilst I was pregnant. Our lovely baby Taliesin (Tali for short) was born in September, and its just now that I'm starting to get back to some exercise again. A lot of thoughts occurred to me over the last 12 months, but I just didn't seem to find time to put fingers to keyboard and write them down. So this is a catch up blog, racing quickly through 2014!
I managed to finish the winter bouldering aggregate in a respectable 7th place which pleased me, given I spent most of the last month trying not to throw up between problems! I kept climbing till I was about 7 months pregnant, enjoying a lovely holiday in Kalymnos where I met another pregnant climber and we swapped notes. My midwife was a little worried about stretchy ligaments but it didn't seem to bother me much, the worst bit was not being able to lift my legs in high step ups due to my expanding tummy!
I really enjoyed working with some of the British youth bouldering team and attending a comp over the summer. It occurred to me that to really feel at home during the scramble format, kids need really good social skills, to feel confident to negotiate their way into climbing the problems they want, when they want to. Parents of comp kids would be wise to discuss a negotiation strategy beforehand, and then (as all the coaching literature suggests!) stay quietly supportive during the comp itself.
A big change for Smart Climbing over the last 12 months has been the addition of Skype coaching sessions for clients further afield. Although they can't be as practical as wall based sessions, they work really well within an established coaching relationship and allow regular contact to deal with any arising issues.
Research wise, I spotted something interesting on reassurance. All coaches and parents tend to use reassurance as a strategy, but psychological research pointed out a while ago that it can tend to make anxiety worse not better. Now there is also evidence to suggest it can make pain and distress worse and not better in medical procedures. Timing appears to be key - if you must offer a reassuring comment, do it close to the end of whatever the child is anxious about rather than at the beginning.
Media wise, I enjoyed Esther Bott's well timed piece in Summit 75 about celebrating women's achievements not their bodies. With the This Girl Can campaign kicking off this year aiming to show 'ordinary' women participating in exercise to encourage others, Esther was ahead of the game in suggesting that images of female climbers have become overly sexualised. At a recent conference, a study reported that sexualised images of female athletes had a detrimental effect on female adolescent athletes body image, and so for me there is an imperative for climbing media to change the way it portrays female climbers, as well as a responsibility for sponsored climbers to watch how they portray themselves on social media.
So heading into 2015, I have just started exercising again - its hard work both time wise and body wise, but I'm enjoying the challenge. I'm giving a lecture and practical workshop at the NICAS conference in a couple of weeks time and a free talk at LLAMFF in March. Skype sessions are proving popular, and there are plans afoot for our usual Open Course. So lots to look forward to as well as the launch of a new, improved website! Keep your eye on this blog, our Twitter feed and our Facebook page for more details.