Know who's kicking your butt - the ClimbFit instructors of Summit

Mario Stanley: Founder and climbing instructor with ClimbFit

Mario Stanley started ClimbFit five years ago, when Summit owner Kyle Clinkscales asked him to start a training program for adults. Mario - who was teaching Kids Club at our Dallas location at the time - tok the idea and ran with it. Kyle mentioned the name "ClimbFit," - it stuck, and now Summit has a growing adult fitness program, that takes place weekly at three of our locations - Dallas, Denton and Carrollton. For days and times of classes, look here on our website! 

I sat down with Mario to get the details on the history and purpose behind the program, and he definitely talked my ear off. There's no doubt, though, that he is one of the most driven and passionate people you'll ever meet.

So ... what is ClimbFit and why?

Before ClimbFit, I was coaching kids by running the Dallas gym's Kids Club program. Audra Sadler — the program's very first secondary coach — helped me put together the concept of the fitness program, because she's a licensed kinesiologist and also went to school for sports science. As for the climbing workouts, they're workouts I originally came up with for myself as I was training to make myself a better climber. 

Mario helping a climber out during a ClimbFit sessions

Mario helping a climber out during a ClimbFit sessions

What anyone that coaches a sport will tell you, is that you will get better in what you are teaching, especially if you are consistent athlete in it. I started applying a lot of ClimbFit ideas to my own personal climbing, and I saw my climbing skyrocketing. When I saw my climbing improve so quickly, I knew so would everyone's else who joined my program.

In short, I think the motto of ClimbFit really is "Be bold," — by empowering people to be bold, you give them the power to do something great and above their expectations. Whether they send the route or not, it doesn't matter — when they at least try without hesitations, it allows them to harness whatever they have to be bold, and that gives people freedom.

Mario's notebook, used for reference during ClimbFit sessions, filled with the obsessive amount of notes he takes. 

Mario's notebook, used for reference during ClimbFit sessions, filled with the obsessive amount of notes he takes. 

If you watch people — I think everyone knows this feeling — if you watch people on that first moment that they try something truly hard for him, it’s like a light clicks on in their head, and they realize they the ability to do more

ClimbFit also takes people out on climbing trips, right?

We started ClimbFit outings two years ago, as a way to help our ClimbFit members determine what they're climbing level truly is. The only way I feel that you can really accurately gauge that is to climb on real rock — so we started planning trips for people to go outside and really challenge and test themselves. The side effect of that was that people started turning into bad asses really fast! When one particular Climb Fit member started, he could barely do 11as, and then within a year and a half of ClimbFit, he was projecting 13as and completing 12b / 12c outside pretty easily.

The ClimbFit crew on an outing.

The ClimbFit crew on an outing.

How about your favorite climb?

(It was pretty impossible to get a straight answer out of Mario — the man is a true connoisseur of outdoor routes and has about 30 favorites)

It's either Kootenai Cruiser, a 13d at Sitting Bull Falls, or the Pursuit of Excellence, "the greatest 5.9 on the planet" in Chattanooga, for single pitch. For multi-pitch, it's gotta be Texas Hold 'Em, a 1,300 ft. trad route at Red Rocks. 

The Yin to Mario's Yang: Denis Firstov, fitness instructor with ClimbFit

Denis started with ClimbFit 2 years ago, after a chance meeting with Mario at a Fuzzy's near Summit Carrollton. Denis moved here to Dallas from Maryland, and used to be a fitness instructor at Earth Treks, his home gym. Once he moved to Dallas, Denis moved here and spent some time as one of our routesetters. Denis is the "Fit" side of ClimbFit, and leads ClimbFit participants in strength and conditioning exercises and fitness lesson plans. 

What's your favorite exercise?

Anything that has to do with the pushup. They're really good for your opposing muscle groups, and most climbers don’t do them — but should, cuz they are great for reducing shoulder hunch. 

The New Kid: Logan Prentice, ClimbFit instructor at Summit Denton

Logan is the newest addition to the ClimbFit family. He joined the ranks of Mario and Denis a few months ago, as teaches ClimbFit classes at our new Denton location. He started blazing the ClimbFit trail in Denton, after Mario brought the idea up to him at a staff party. His interest in exercise and previous experience trail running (he once ran a 14 mile trail race) made him a great contender for teaching fitness.

Why teach ClimbFit?

Fitness has always been something I have been interested in, but I can’t motivate myself to just workout because it’s boring. That's why climbing was initially such a good calling for me — it's applied fitness, that is actually fun so it makes a great passion. Climb Fit was a natural next step for me, because it still incorporates working out — so that you can keep your body safe by dong opposition work — but there classes are still 70 percent climbing, so you’re still gonnabe improving your climbing.

Favorite exercise for ClimbFit?

I am a big fan of Around the World ! It's 20 minute exercise, that requires you to earn as many points as possible by climbing. Each rating gets a certain amount of points, so you have to strategize whether or not you want to try to climb a lot of easy ones, or fewer harder ones to get your score up. Your score is a really good baseline, tangible number that you can equate to where you are at in your climbing. After a month or two of taking ClimbFit, we'll revisit that game again and see how your climbing has improved.