When Dr. Sharwil Bell, 31, isn’t working with clients at 901 Physical Therapy to manage symptoms in order to maximize fitness, you’ll likely find her bouldering in a #12 Grizzlies jersey at High Point Climbing & Fitness in East Memphis. The former collegiate basketball player likes to think Ja Morant gives her a little extra strength while in the gym.

Dr. Sharwil’s passion for climbing began in 2018 after a coworker invited her to try it for the first time. The combined physical and mental challenges of the sport hooked her almost instantly. “That’s the fun of it to me,” she adds. “It’s a puzzle, and everybody can get to the solution differently.”

These days, Dr. Sharwil spends an average of three days a week climbing, while also carving out time for strength training and occasional cardio. One of the unique features of High Point that keeps her coming back is the sense of community to be found there. “I can easily spend two or three hours in the gym now. It just depends on who you bump into,” she says.

Lately, Dr. Sharwil has been filming her climbing sessions to get a better idea of which areas to focus on the next time around. Her key to overcoming mental roadblocks is a good old-fashioned pep talk and some positive thoughts. “How you think something’s going to go has a big impact on how that thing actually goes,” she explains. No matter the difficulty level, she tells herself to just give it a go, leaning into courage in tough moments.

Dr. Sharwil participated in her first bouldering climbing competition at High Point last February and won first in her category. She recalls one bouldering route during the six-week-long league that she had to attempt nearly 15 times before finally mastering it. For her, personal victories like that are far more important than the prize itself. “To continue to put forth the effort and give it your best shot…you get it, or you don’t, but either way, you’re stronger for it,” she adds.

From a recovery standpoint, Dr. Sharwil’s full-time job as a physical therapist comes in handy. If anything in her body starts to feel off, she’ll have one of her coworkers dry needle the area to help get things back on track. Other key components for her recovery are proper nutrition, mild to moderate daily activity, and, most importantly, good sleep.

Looking ahead, Dr. Sharwil is gearing up for the Dash & Flash race on September 10, which will consist of a 5k run on the Wolf River Trails, followed by a Bouldering Competition at High Point Climbing Gym. Her ultimate goal in climbing is to worry less and to continue trying hard things.

High Point Climbing & Fitness in East Memphis features over 30,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor climbing space, with 52-foot climbing walls and over 100 different boulder routes. Yoga and group fitness classes are also available to members at no additional cost. For more info on their amenities or to sign up for your first climbing visit, head to Highpointclimbing.com/memphis/visit or call 901.203.6122.

By Colleen May
Photo by Daniel Scruggs