Older Members Climb to Success at Threshold Climbing and Fitness
Doug Puryea of Oklahoma City hooked up his climbing harness at Threshold Climbing Gym and stared up at the hundreds of handholds that weaved up the walls.
Nearly 40 feet up, 63-year-old Marjorie Houseman is already clambering up a route, her 65-year-old brother, Kurt Vanderwater, acting as “belay.”
Across the more than 40,000-square-foot climbing center, 43-year-old Deidra Goff talks with 46-year-old Angel Aston about the various workout classes at Threshold. Angel, who teaches the HIIT, sandbag and core training classes at the gym, and Deidra take off outside to do a quick run with the sandbags.
At age 50, Doug rock climbs at least once a week at the climbing gym, and he, along with the other members that day, are just a few of dozens of members who are over the age of 45 who use climbing as a way to stay in shape, stretch their limits and just have fun.
“Half of my students are over 40,” Angel says. “That’s the best thing about this sport and this gym. At any given time, you have people here ranging from age 5 to 85. They are all mingling and climbing together. Age is not a hindrance.”
If you think age is a detriment to learning to climb, think again. Threshold Climbing Gym may be the absolute perfect place for older adults to get in shape.
GRAY AND PLAY
Doug started climbing as a way to connect with his youngest son. This older boy had joined the Marines, and he was looking for something he and his other son could do together.
“We played video games, but I hate video games,” he says. “We used to climb in the past, so I said, ‘Let’s start rock climbing again.’ We found this place. It’s a multi-generational thing for us. What’s cool is that he is less than half my age, but I can totally keep up with him.”
Marjorie and her brother, Kurt, live next door to each other and are always seeking new adventures and challenges. As a cancer survivor many times over, Marjorie also needed a workout that would keep her body and bones strong.
Kurt’s whole family also attends Threshold Climbing Gym.
“My son and his wife and the grandkids all come here too,” he says. “It’s good for the body. You don’t get the impact to the joints like people do with running. When we started, we could only go about 5 feet up. Now, I’m doing that green route there that goes way up back to back.”
Angel says she’d always been physically fit, especially into her 40s, but climbing gave her the challenge she was seeking.
“My 22-year-old son was the first to start, and he got me to be a ‘climber mom,’” she says. “I never thought of trying rock climbing on my own, even though I’m very active. It’s harder than I thought.”
Deidra joined Threshold the second day it was open with her husband and family.
“I was glad they had a workout room and a yoga studio and other classes so I would have something to do if I didn’t want to climb,” she says. “But I started climbing too. I feel as I get older, I become more anxious. Climbing pushes me past that anxiety, and I’ve learned to trust more.”
Threshold Climbing and Fitness, located at 6024 Westlake Memorial Parkway, is Oklahoma City’s largest climbing, fitness and yoga facility. Threshold houses 20,000 square feet of climbing space, plus a dedicated fitness room, a yoga space, a Moon Board and a Valo Augmented Reality Climbing Projector.
“We have more than 100 members who are 40-plus, and they make up a huge part of our core community. I would say that our older members are the ones that we see here using the facility more consistently than any other group,” says Liz Warren, operations and marketing manager.