Owner of Vertical reality Petra Slivka-Flagg climbs along one of the rock climbing walls. Vertical Reality recently partnered with UVU fitness to offer a series of ab training courses. Matthew Horwood, Centretown News.

Ab-sculpting classes for rock climbers

By Brianne Godsman

Two Centretown athletic hubs are teaming up in the coming months to offer a series of “ab-sculpting” classes aimed at helping local rock climbers and others build a solid core for strength and injury prevention.

An instructor from UVU Fitness on Preston Street will be teaching the sessions hosted at the Vertical Reality climbing gym on Victoria Island.

The monthly $15 drop-in workouts begin Dec. 2 and are open to anyone.

Kenny Caceros, the head trainer at UVU Fitness who will be teaching the core conditioning classes, says he’s been Vertical Reality owner Petra Slivka-Flagg’s personal trainer for the last year.

“In casual discussions about what it takes to be a good rock climber, core strength was one of the most important things that came up,” he said. “Core is a specialty of mine so we decided to partner up for a core-specific class.”

Added Caceros: “Core strength leads to balance which is integral in all sports. But it extends to everyday life, a strong core can aide in simple tasks and it is also essential for preventing injury.”

Caceros spent 25 years as a professional soccer player before founding UVU Fitness, including a stint with Ottawa Fury FC.

Original image from the International Climbing and Mountaineering Foundation.

While this is his first time partnering with a climbing gym, Caceros said he used to collaborate with other Ottawa gyms for a program called Fitness Tours, taking his clients to more than 15 different workout spots across the city.

This summer, UVU Fitness also hosted a series of fitness classes on Saturday mornings along the canal as a customer outreach program and also as part of the National Capital Commission’s effort to enliven Ottawa’s shorelines.

“Core strength is a really great for everyone to have, not just rock climbers,” said Slivka-Flagg, “so with these sessions we are targeting everyone — not just the people who would normally come to our gym to climb.”

Slivka-Flagg also partners up with a local yoga instructor once a month to offer classes at Vertical Reality. “I believe that small businesses should be supporting each other within the community in order to create an environment that is open and supportive.”

In October, Vertical Reality partnered with Freedom Dog Rescue to host a climbing night and barbecue showcasing adoptable dogs from the shelter and donating all of the proceeds to the facility in Casselman, east of Ottawa.

Vertical Reality is a thriving place for rock climbers. The gym stays open until midnight and sees a lot of its traffic on weekends late at night.

Alex Stefanakis, local rock climber, blogger and a regular patron of Vertical Reality, says: “It’s so different meeting rock climbers than meeting bodybuilders or something, because you get really strong but it looks so different because you stay pretty lean. Rock climbers are usually these skinny hipsters who don’t look strong, but can actually pull up their entire body with one arm.”

Stefanakis added: “ I think the (ab-sculpting) sessions are a really good idea for climbers — having strength in your core, and any part of your body really, is very important for climbers.”