John Gill Interview on Stretching and Climbing

SEALgrinderPT (SGPT) catches up with John Gill, Master of Stone and the Founding Father of Bouldering – to discuss stretching and warming up and his continued progress in getting outside to climb and play. Check out this interview with Mr. Gill —

SEALgrinderPT: Your video was very inspiring John. How are you keeping yourself in shape?

John Gill: I do those kind of exercises two or three times a week, Brad. I also like to hike up steep buttes around Lake Pueblo, which is only a ten minute drive from my home. Last week, my wife and I were in Wyoming, stopping in the isolated Granite Mountains and hiking and scrambling up a couple of domes.

SGPT: You have had a few shoulder issues over the years. How have you worked around these injuries to continue staying active?

John Gill at 45 discussing Bouldering

JG: I suspect I ruined my shoulders performing on the still rings many years ago. But only in the last five years has it become a problem. I don’t climb anymore since reaching up and engaging the small muscles around my left shoulder is very hard and can be painful. Senator John McCain and I now share the limitations of reaching up above our heads! But his problems were the result of heroic actions. Five years ago I was advised to get shoulder replacements, but it would have meant never doing the kinds of things on the video again, so I decided to simply ride it out and continue exercising. Amazingly my right shoulder has greatly improved, but my left is a problem. Nevertheless, I have not regreted my decision.

John Gill at age 78 – getting outside to play.

SGPT: Do you have any warmup exercises that you do to help prevent injuries?

JG: What you don’t see in that video is my pathetic warm-up! It takes five to ten minutes to stretch and get in shape to do pull-ups. Then I feel good for the next hour or so, and I almost always feel better after such a workout. I do take three ibuprofen tablets in the morning and one or two after a workout.

Editors note: Please check out past SGPT interview with Mr. John Gill here.

SGPT: You have maintained considerable core strength – what exercises do you perform to build your core?

JG: Pretty much what you see me doing. I’ve never used weights, and much of my continuing core strength comes from gymnastics fifty years ago and continued bodyweight exercises. (I think the rope-climbing I did – my best apparatus – contributed greatly to core strength.) I prefer to actually perform those kind of “acrobatic” movements than to do auxillairy exerecises to build individual strengths. That’s a problem when I move indoors into a gym when the weather requires me to, for I can’t find the equipment there – like the horizontal ladder – to do my stuff. I have to improvise on the chinning frame, which means doing hand traverses trying to avoid those annoying handles that stick out! The younger guys quietly shake their heads at that.

SGPT: How has your love for play and being outdoors evolved over the years?

JG: I much prefer working out in the outdoors, Brad. I guess that comes from doing so much climbing over the years, long before the advent of climbing gyms. I especially like to exercise when the temperatures drop to around 35 to 45, if there is no or very little wind. It’s invigorating and I feel energetic afterwards. I start with a sweatshirt and perhaps a windbreak on, then they come off during my monkey business.

SGPT: Thanks for answering a few questions John – we look forward to seeing more of you outdoors and enjoying life.

JG: Always a pleasure, Brad. You have a great website!