Will, 37, and Abby Collins, 33, have grown into a power couple with their passion for climbing. Will has lived all over the states but has called Memphis home for over half his life. Abby,33, grew up nearby in Mason, Tennessee. The couple met through mutual friends and have been married for nine years.
Their passion for climbing blossomed a couple of years ago when they checked out a gym in Nashville. They even considered moving closer to a place where they could climb since Memphis didn’t have one yet.
They quickly joined High Point Climbing and Fitness in 2019 after it opened and started their foray with bouldering, which is done on shorter walls without a rope or harness. It didn’t take them long to get into top-roping then level up to lead climbing. This skill, that they learned from instructors at the gym, allows them to take their love for climbing outdoors.
Climbing has strengthened many parts of their health and their relationship. They continue to share amazing moments whether they’re scaling rocks inside or outside. “There’s no better peace than knowing unequivocally that the person belaying you has your best interest at heart when you’re 55-plus feet in the air,” says Will. Climbing requires trust and good communication—two qualities that have just as much a part in their everyday life.
It’s also transformed them inside and out. Will has lost over 40 pounds since they started this new lifestyle, and that jumpstarted his running life. He completed a half marathon and is working towards a full or even an ultra. That extra endurance has helped him in several climbing competitions; he earned third place in one and first in another for bouldering.
Earlier this year, Abby was recognized by High Point as the member with the most visits in the month of January. At the time, she was recovering from an ankle injury but challenged herself to stay consistent as she healed and recovered. She sometimes visited the gym twice a day, even in the mornings before work. Pushing past her comfort zone has made a world of difference for her mental health. When Abby is on the wall, completely focused on breathing and planning her next move, anxiety and worries that typically cloud her mind melt away.
High Point helps the couple keep their training well rounded with yoga classes. This form of movement has always been special to Abby, but Will joined her in the practice to improve balance and flexibility for climbing.
One word that the couple keeps coming back to is “empowered.” They say, “The feeling of accomplishing something difficult each time is very gratifying.” For them, climbing is the perfect sport because the courses always change and there are always new ways to challenge yourself.
Tall walls with a dizzying amount of rocks can seem intimidating if you’re new to the sport, but it’s easy to get started. Will says, “If you stick to the beginner routes, you’ll have a lot of fun and it will help build your confidence.” Climbing can be a great beginner-friendly sport with a lot of upside.
High Point Climbing and Fitness is located at 21 North Humphreys Boulevard, next to Christian Brothers High School. For more information, visit Highpointclimbing.com/memphis.
By Lillian Kay
Photo by Tindall Stephens