Know your Yogi: Barbara Altshuler-Pacheco, Yoga Director for Summit Gyms

Our yoga program has evolved quite a lot since Barbara joined us, and we gotta say, our yoga program is now pretty awesome! Thanks to her we have a bunch of new classes, new teachers, and our Teacher Training program. Since she's the Yoga Director here at Summit, she's pretty busy with managing a crew of 30 yoga teachers (15 of which graduated from our Teacher Training Program), assembling our Teacher Training Program as well as instructing it, and then teaching her own classes! She is the always peppy woman announcing yoga classes over the intercom, and can convince almost anyone to try a class! Which you should. Seriously. Climbers are in need of so much yoga it's ridiculous. So drop by one of Barbara's classes, and introduce yourself, and she can help you better a more well-balanced climber, through yoga! How long have you been with Summit?

I officially started here in October of 2014.

In 2003 or 2004 my kids started climbing at Summit Carrollton, back when it was Exposure. My daughter Dena joined Team Texas about a year and a half ago. Chris (LoCrasto) and I started talking about ways to grow Summit’s yoga, and I was advising him, and then I started taking some of the classes here to get some idea on how things were being done. Then he wrote me this email basically asked me to start working for Summit. Once I came on board, I started developing the teacher training program, and we restructured all the classes, we renamed them, re-described them, and put some posters up to get the climbers aware that Summit is not a climbing gym with yoga, but a climbing gym with a yoga program. And there’s a huge difference, because a lot of climbing gyms have yoga classes and they’re just that. But we're one of the only ones that I know of with an accredited registered school for teachers!

When did you start practicing yoga?

I have been practicing for about 30 years. Because I was a marathon runner, I was looking for something to do to help correct some of the things that happened with my body with so much running. I did it sporadically for years. If you were to tell me in my first career that I’d be teaching yoga someday, I would tell you that you’re out of your mind!

How long have you been a yoga teacher for?

For a little over 10 years. I was previously teaching at Sunstone Yoga, which is primarily Hatha-based yoga, and I got my 100 hour training there. I taught classes there and I gave all the teacher training. I developed their yoga teacher assessment program, and I helped develop a lot of their newer classes that incorporated fitness. I grew up with the company, because they were founded in 2002 and I came on in 2005. I was with them for 10 and a half years, but was very excited for the opportunity to work for Summit, because it gave me the ability to evolve.

What's your vision for the yoga program here at Summit?

One of the things that I have really wanted to do is bring more fitness yoga to Summit, so I want to start incorporating other types of movement, like TRX and bar movements and things like that, because we definitely have the space — because it’s a climbing gym it's just a matter of using more of the gym in other ways. The other thing I’d like to see Summit develop into is the leading place to train yoga teachers to create classes for climbers, because climbers have very specific body needs.  I do teach in my teacher training how to instruct a climber-specific class. I envision Summit becoming the place to send yoga teachers that want to learn and train how to reach and help climbers become better, stronger, more awesome climbers.

Why should a climber practice yoga?

Climbers are prone to back-body weakness, and front-body tightness, which incorporates everything from the head down to the toes. We’re talking about shoulders, we’re talking about the core being strengthened only in a spine flexion, and that’s not good.  So to me, it makes sense that if you are going to strengthen the front, back and sides of the body, you would end up being a better climber. Climbing is a very linear movement — up and down the wall — and if you create the class right, like in Climber Power Flow, you have climbers moving in cross-planar movements, engaging their core, engaging their core stabilizers and opening the front body and strengthening the back in a really fun, moving environment.

Favorite class?

My favorite class by far is Climber Power Flow here at Summit, because it incorporates fitness moves with traditional yoga poses — but with every traditional yoga pose, we add a dynamic aspect to it, so it challenges your strength, your stability and your stamina and your breath work. And it’s fun! I tell my students that if you’re not having fun in this class, then you're doing it wrong! It’s yoga practice not yoga perfect.

Best Summit memory?

So at the beginning of every Climber Power Flow class, I always offer permission at the beginning of class for students to take a break in Child's Pose. This class is as intense as you want to make it and it is as easy as you want to make it. If you want to take a break, you’re in charge of the intensity, so take a break! So I had a couple of new students and everybody nodded their head when I told them that. So then we got about ¾ of the way through class and I had this student over in the corner just gasping for breath and I said, "Take a break! Go into Child’s Pose!" And he goes, "But you never showed us what that was!" And everybody just burst out laughing. I had not shown the poor guy how to do Child's Pose so he just kept going!

Another funny thing about working at Summit, and this only happens at a climbing gym. Sometimes people get so chalked up while climbing, that they come into the yoga studio, and they’re like pig pen, with a cloud of dust everywhere as soon as they open into warrior one. Their chalk just goes poof! And when they sit down it comes off their clothes in a chalk cloud, or you get chalk prints on the mats. You never get that anywhere but a climbing gym, but that’s part of the beauty of teaching here, part of the fun of it!

Little known facts about Barbara:

She has her undergrad and grad degrees in Science from Columbia.

She had a tenured position as an assistant professor at a dental college for 17 years, and first learned to develop curriculums there. She taught Research Methods, a high-level course to prepare her students for graduate school.

In this field, she has given talks, published papers and even a book! She wrote a nutrition book for dental hygienists, called Nutrition for the Dental Hygienist.

She is married to a Dallas cop and has been for 25 years. She says they are "so opposite, in every way," so his wedding band actually has a Yin and Yang on it. "But it works completely," she says.

She has two daughters — one of whom is finishing her senior year in high school and climbs on Team Texas, and another who is just now entering her third year in med school.