It’s hard to say this without sounding kind of cheesy, but this week I really felt like Salt Pump was more than a climbing gym for me. If it weren’t for Salt Pump, my week would have been very different, and not nearly as much fun.

On Thursday, I happened to be at Salt Pump in the afternoon and decided to give Sagel’s yoga class a try. Truth be told, I’m not that into yoga. But this class was different. I think it’s the kind of thing you have to experience—a description will never do it justice. A few days later, I still feel how much it helped open up my hips, which enables me to climb more delicate and difficult routes. In Yin yoga, each pose is held for a few minutes, and this lets the physical and mental benefits sink in. I’m busy. It’s hard for me to sit still. It’s hard for me to keep my brain from darting around. Being forced to do it in a class is probably the only way I will actually stay in a pose for that long and feel the full benefits. This wasn’t like any other yoga class I’ve tried, and a recommendation from me doesn’t get much more glowing than that.

Except, maybe, my glowing report of the other new thing I tried this week: surfing. Unlike yoga, surfing isn’t part of the Salt Pump membership package (sorry), but it was only because of program staffer Alex McFarlane that I finally got to try it on Saturday. Just a short drive from Salt Pump, and we were at Higgins Beach where the waves were big and surfers were everywhere (the photo here is from June and it was a different scene this week!). The wetsuit made me feel a little claustrophobic at first, but once I realized how nice and toasty it was in the ocean in October, I got over it. I can see why the kids in the after school programs at Salt Pump love Alex. He’s a great teacher— patient, psyched, and encouraging. I’m pretty sure he gives everyone the same treatment and he wasn’t just being nice to me because I’m married to his boss, Taki. Moving on a wave is magical. Thanks to Hurricane Joaquin, it looks like we might have good surfing for a while.

Though I don’t work at Salt Pump, I see a lot of Salt Pump from the inside. I know how hard Taki, Freddie, Janet, Vince, and Alison worked to find the right people to teach yoga, staff the front desk, and teach the climbing programs, and how hard the entire staff work to make it more than a climbing gym. They actively try to build community and make Salt Pump a place where people can feel at home, try new things, and rejuvenate. This week, my Salt Pump experience went beyond climbing and I felt what I hope all Salt Pump members feel—that this is a special place with incredible people, and it’s more than just a climbing gym.