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An Interview with Christina Natal: How Climbing and Aerial Silks Influence Personal Growth

Speaking with avid climber and aerial enthusiast, Christina Natal, about her experiences on both rocks and silks, and why she is so enthusiastic about climbing and silks as means for personal growth.

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This year, Brooklyn Boulders Somerville is very excited to launch a new after-school program for kids and teens: BKB x Esh Circus Arts.

The BKB X Esh program combines rock climbing, aerial silks, static trapeze and team-building. Over the course of 10 weeks, kids ages 6 to 15 will spend two hours– one day each week –honing their strength, balance, and poise while increasing focus, concentration, confidence and self-esteem.

BKB x Esh Circus Arts: January 28th – April 8th

Book Now

*For kids ages 6 – 15

I spoke to avid climber and aerial enthusiast, Christina Natal, about her experiences on both rocks and silks, and why she is so enthusiastic about climbing and silks as means for personal growth.

Christina: I started climbing 8 years ago when I was 20. I was working as a preschool teacher and didn’t have a focused passion, but was really pulled to the idea of doing cool things. The first time I climbed was in the Gunks (in NY) — it was raining and I was in shoes 8 sizes too big for me…I had never been challenged in that way. This year, I drove across the country 3 times on climbing trips!

 

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Shea: Was there a particular moment when climbing changed how you see yourself?

Christina: I was introduced to the sport by my friend — a boy — and we always climbed with other strong boys. If I wasn’t confident leading a route or setting an anchor, I had a safety net in these guys. I felt like I never had to know what I was doing. One day I looked in the mirror and said, “You do know what you’re doing. Go get on a big wall by yourself.” I proved to myself that I could physically and mentally work through tough moments on the wall.

Shea: How have climbing and silks positively influenced your life?

Christina: Everything I’ve learned in climbing I’ve brought into my life and vice versa. It’s a very personal thing. Every moment you’re learning, and you’re dancing with the rock and you’re dancing with the silks…you learn to be open to the experience. I’ve learned more from my failures than my successes in climbing. I’ve learned to do it because it’s hard! Appreciate that you have a challenge. We don’t do it because it’s easy, we do it because it’s challenging.

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Shea: Why did you start training with aerial silks?

Christina: A friend introduced me to it. I took a class and was quickly hooked! I feel like a little kid when I get on them [silks]! You feel like an acrobat, like you’re on monkey bars…it’s this big gorgeous silks hanging from the ceiling. It forced me to cultivate grace. I like to go back and forth between climbing and silks. If you’re working on something and it’s hurting your skin, switch to silks! You can work those skills when it’s too hard to hold onto rock.

Shea: What advice do you have for young climbers?

Christina: Climbing culture is a subculture. Mainstream society has heard of it but they don’t know the nuances — they don’t know what it’s like to have intense emotional responses because you’re pushing yourself past all these fears while physically pushing yourself. Everyone who climbs understands that, so strong bonds are formed. We relate to each other through these shared experiences. And climbers are such encouraging, supportive people. The root of climbing is not how hard the route is or how flashy you’re climbing, it’s about challenging yourself. It’s about yourself. It’s easy to look at the person next to you and compare yourself. But in climbing, both the new and experienced climbers are trying just as hard. The work they’re putting in is the same. Regardless of level of experience, all of that is shared.