Monday, October 24, 2011

Meet...Kara Werner

by Tara Ziegler

Aiguille has always shown improvement as a facility with years that go by, but within the past 4 years we have experienced many excellent changes and additions, and it's all thanks to the guidance of one woman.

Many people knew Kara around the gym as our sweet and soft-spoken Operations Manager who was always willing to lend an extra hand, or an ear. Some may not have had the pleasure of meeting her because she was also very much known for spending countless hours behind her desk. All of her hard work cultivated amazing events such as our annual Dead Hang Halloween Competition, Summer Beach Day Party, Aiguille After Dark with JSHIH (the amazing DJ that never fails to deliver), and some great improvements for members including new workout equipment, yoga instructors and the beloved ping-pong table.

Kara also holds a very inspiring outlook on rock climbing that not many veterans have yet mastered.

Climbing has always been classified as an extreme sport for those with extreme mentalities. Even during your first experience on the wall you are forced to confront some inner demons; a fear of falling, the possibility of getting injured, or stressing about not being able to make it to the top. Climbing is all about pushing yourself to the limit with your body and mind, however the mind doesn’t always get the conditioning our bodies do.

Kara is a climber who offers a refreshing perspective on how to push yourself through every negative thought and challenge that your brain can come up with. You have to use your mind just as much as your muscle to get up a wall, and I don’t just mean for technique.

“The mental thing is huge. If you tell yourself you can’t do it, you’ll never be able to do it. I climb because I like confronting myself and proving to myself that I can do something I never thought I could. There are so many things that challenge you in climbing and one of the biggest things is yourself. It doesn’t matter how far away the hold is or how small it is, sometimes it just comes down to you. Confronting the voices in my own head is something that I have struggled with for a long time. That’s made a huge difference in my climbing.”

Admitting to her previous lack of athleticism, Kara has now developed a whole new motivation and routine for staying active. She participates in running, stairs, yoga and occasionally pilates. “Doing all that stuff now is more fun because I know that I’m not just on a treadmill to be on a treadmill, I’m on the treadmill so I can get lighter and improve my breathing to become a better climber.”

Kara credits Aubrey Wingo’s tough love coaching skills as one of the reasons she pushes herself so hard now.

"Aubrey whooped my butt. If I fell off a 5.7 I would just feel like 'Eh, I don't wanna do this', but she would not let me down. She would say ‘I'm not bringing you down until you do that move because I know you can do that move.’ So I would get really mad and I would kinda fume up there for a minute and just try to do it again just to get her to let me down, and I would end up finishing the route. She pushed me a lot."

Another hurdle Kara faced when she first began climbing was her height, or so she thought.

“Jess is an inspiration. When I see her climb I no longer have the excuse of ‘Well I’m just short so it’s harder for me.' Charlie [was also an inspiration] because he is the most static climber I’ve ever seen. He has amazing footwork and he’s also around my height.”

Aside from her progression in rock climbing, Kara also picked up some rewarding lifestyle changes while working here.

“I learned to relax a lot. I used to be a pretty uptight person. It makes me more productive to just take a chill pill once in a while. Come in and climb. Climbing is a great activity because you have to put all of your mental energy into what you are doing on the walls. So you can't think about anything else. Unless you wanna fall. Climbing is different; it doesn’t feel like a sport because it’s so individual. It really feels like something that you do for yourself.”

Though Kara is going off to start a new and exciting chapter in her life, she will always have a place for Aiguille in her heart. “[I will miss] feeling like I am apart of all this craziness. There’s always all this stuff going on and I like being in that inner circle. Helping to move things forward, helping to improve the gym and just being apart of it.”

While she is not set on her future plans, she is also in no rush to be. “I've learned recently that it is good to have specific goals, but its not good to box yourself into something. I think that I’ve found what I really want is to be happy and to use the skills that I have to their full potential. So whether that means opening a coffee shop or starting a marketing company, I just want to feel like I'm doing everything that I know I'm capable of.”

Kara, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for all that you have done and inspired in us. We have had many great moments and memories because of you and the amount of love and dedication you put into Aiguille. We couldn’t have done it without you. Good luck to you and everything you aspire to achive.
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