Robyn Bertram - rock climber
Robyn Bertram’s interest in rock climbing and bouldering goes further than just pursuing the sport for recreation. Robyn is currently studying Human Kinetics at the University of Windsor, Ontario, and is also a biomechanics research assistant. She says that she has become interested in rock climbing research through this work, where they examine the body in motion, often linking together causes of injuries and ways to increase performance.
Robyn took up rock climbing at her local gym, Gibraltar Rock Climbing, as a way to get into shape. She says that the owner’s passion for the sport led her to become stronger than she thought possible, and soon she was travelling to many different destinations to climb outdoors. She also competes in bouldering competitions.
Robyn has a background as a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor. She teaches spin classes at her university and created the first all-female boot camp on campus. Regardless of whether it’s fitness or rock climbing, Robyn says she’d like to show women that no matter what their age or background, they can achieve what they think is impossible for them - even if they think that is something only a male could do. She says that when she started rock climbing she was terrified of heights and could barely get halfway up the wall - she ways, “honestly, if I can become a strong rock climber, any woman can”!
Robyn strongly believes that rock climbing is a very male dominated sport, even though there has been an increase in female participation in the last ten years. She says that this is a disadvantage in some ways - for example, most of the members of her local gym are men, and men have different strengths to women in rock climbing. Men tend to have more power than women, and Robyn says it can be difficult to get the information about a climb that will work for her as a woman. However, she also says that this motivates her to get better so that other women can see that they can achieve great things in the sport. Her own mentors, as well as her local gym owner, her boyfriend and local climbing partners, have included the rock climbing greats Lynn Hill and Katie Brown, who have made her realise the potential she can reach as a female rock climber.
Robyn says that her best accomplishment in the sport so far is climbing outdoors. She says that the sport scares her to death, but despite this she loves it. Rock climbing is very mentally and physically challenging and trying to conquer these two aspects of the sport have not come easily to her. However, she is proud that she’s been able to achieve in a sport she thought she’d never have the guts to try - and has learnt along the way that it’s the brick walls and mountains that stand in our way that make us realise how badly we really want something!
For any rock climbers struggling with the mental aspects of the sport, Robyn recommends The Rock Warrior's Way: Mental Training for Climbers by Arnold Inger. Her advice to other is that you can do anything you put your mind to - your body will follow.
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