I went climbing for the first time three weeks ago. And like most people who start, I started off doing something called “top-roping”, which is a way to climb the face of a mountain without using most of the tools. So of course I got curious and asked, “How do all those other tools work?”

If you don’t have a top rope to catch you when you fall, you have to climb, and place “protection” as you go. The new tools are ‘nuts’ and ‘cams’, but in the old days… they use to use spikes called pitons.


I’ll just call ‘em spikes ‘cause that’s what they look like. In the old days, climbers would climb up mountains, hammer in these spikes, and then clip their rope to these spikes. And then later, they’d hammer out the spikes.

Well travelled climbing routes were getting permanently scarred by the constant hammering in and hammering out of these spikes.

But there wasn’t really any other way to make a big climb. Hammering spikes into the rock were the only way.

Until someone stood for something better.

Yvon Chouinard and Tom Frost, who had a company called Chouinard equipment, made spikes. In fact, spikes were 70% of their income. But they realized the spikes that made them a living were also causing massive damage to the mountains they loved.

So after years of development and tons in cash, they developed different tools that wouldn’t require hammering in pitons. They introduced little aluminum nuts in various sizes that could be placed in the natural cracks and fissures of the rock face, instead of hammered in. Simple. Brilliant. Cheap.

And no one bought them.

So they changed their catalog. Soon it became a series of essays, inspirational quotes, and instructionals about “clean climbing” and the moral imperative of all climbers to preserve the “vertical wilderness.”

And no one bought them.

There was a huge push back. I mean, yeah, they were simple, brilliant and cheap, but you had to actually think about how to use them. You had to find cracks, plan your route differently, and isn’t it just fucking cooler to hammer a spike into a mountain! Like Thor! WHAM! Bad-ass! And besides, even Frost and Chouinard had made all of their big climbs with the old damaging spikes. No one had climbed any mountain of significance with the dainty little “nuts on a string” that Chouinard was peddling.

So to prove that the “clean climbing” nuts were viable, Chouinard and his friend Bruce Carson decided to climb a mountain. El Capitan in Yosemite: a mountain that had only been climbed with pitons and hammers on a route that only been climbed a handful of times. A 3000 foot route. That would take 7 days. Talk about nuts…

[aesop_parallax img=”http://habitry.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/seamus-mccann-in-the-stove-leg-crack-on-el-capitan.jpg” parallaxbg=”on” captionposition=”bottom-left” lightbox=”off” floater=”on” floatermedia=”El Capitan in Yosemite” floaterposition=”right” floaterdirection=”up”]

After that climb, Chouinard was selling nuts faster than they could be made. Pitons disappeared. Now “clean-climbing” is not only the norm, it’s widely recognized as faster. “I’ve done like six routes on El Capitan and Yosemite,” reflects Chouinard, “and some of those routes that took us 10 days to climb are now being soloed by guys in their gym shorts. And they’re back down before lunch. I think that’s absolutely fantastic.”

Stop Driving Spikes Into My Client’s Head

The fitness industry’s current nutrition coaching methods are essentially like spikes we drive into our client’s heads.

Every time a client gets a sermon on macronutrients, or reads an article on a magical diet, or a celebrity cleanse, essentially they get a plan they can’t follow, and advice they don’t need. And they get crushed again.

It’s crazy — they get a food plan they can’t follow, and then they feel like a failure.

Like how the spikes would chip away at the rocks, every stupid diet our client’s do chips away at their self-worth, and at the legitimacy of our industry and livelihood.

From Spikes to Chocks, from Diets to Habits

This is just one example of how standing for something better can transform an entire industry and sport, such that the older, more destructive ways are lost to time.

[aesop_quote width=”100%” background=”#282828” text=”#FFFFFF” align=”center” size=”3” parallax=”off” direction=”up” quote=”As the spikes were destructive to the mountains, fad diets and ridiculous coaching practices are destructive to our clients — and by extension — the entire business of fitness.”]

I don’t know what our 3000 foot climb will be. But I do know that in coaching from habits instead of diet rules, we are phenomenally unpopular with the old guard. Even “good” trainers mostly preach elimination diets and magical diet rules.

We have to unite and stand for it. We have to talk about it, write about it, and what’s more – we have to name it.

Once the concept of “clean climbing” was introduced, it became a moral imperative for the industry to find something better.

The Answer

Oh wait, I don’t have the answer yet.

In fact, that’s why I’m going to Motivate: A One Day Health and Behavior Change Summit.

Every time I talk to these amazing habit-change geniuses that are going to be at Motivate, I get new answers. New, crazy, magical answers — the kind that only pop up when you get a bunch of people who are smart, committed, and passionate about making a difference together in the same place.

We’re going to get together, and discover together, our industry’s “clean climbing”. And even though we don’t know what it is yet, we’re going to develop our rallying cry.

If you want elevate your level of making a difference — not just for your clients, of course you’ll get better at that too — but be part of elevating the entire fitness industry, you can be in on this, too. All you need is the passion to show up.

You’ll join a bigger community of trainer leaders. You’ll make a bigger difference for your clients. And you’ll come you know yourself, or express yourself, as the kind of leader who makes a difference for your community, your industry, and the world.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I know where it’s going to come from. We need a change. And Salt Lake City on 9/27 is the place where that change will happen.

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Motivate: A Health and Behavior Change Summit

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A Health and Behavior Change Summit

When: September 27, 2014 Where: Salt Lake City, Utah How Long: One day Venue: 2455 Executive Parkway, Lehi UT Hotel: SpringHill Suites by Marriot at Thanksgiving Point How Much: Only $79

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