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Foolproof fitness

ANYONE WHO HAS explored the depths of my pantry knows I am a cereal fiend. Cereal is good for you and it tastes good—the perfect combo. Am I going to eat a bowl of Life every morning for the rest of my, well, life? No! I like to switch it up here and there with some yogurt, a bagel, or a muffin. The same goes for exercise. Once you get comfortable with your workout routine, it’s time to change it and challenge yourself! Switching it up involves stepping out of your comfort zone. In my case, I hiked outside of my comfort zone, all the way up a mountain. This past reading week, my brother and I decided to tackle the Grouse Grind in North Vancouver, B.C.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Grouse Grind, it is a popular trail up Grouse Mountain affectionately referred to as “Mother Nature’s StairMaster,” but there are no TVs in front of this StairMaster, no adjustable settings, and no emergency stop feature. It’s just you and 2830 stairs to heaven.

The first time I did the Grouse Grind, I called ahead to my brothers, who were waiting at the summit, asking them to find a defibrillator. I felt like I was going to hyperventilate, pass out, have a cardiac arrest, puke, or all of the above. So, you can see why my mom was hesitant as she watched my brother and I pack our “emergency rations” before my second attempt: “Be careful! The last time we were there, someone got carried off in a body bag!” Great.

The average hiker takes about an hour and a half to complete the Grind. My goal was twofold: To arrive alive and to beat this time. My brother took up the lead and I followed behind, my stumpy legs struggling to scale stairs the height of a small child. After what seemed like forever, we reached the quarter-way mark. I had two choices: Turn around and head back to the parking lot in defeat or continue climbing. The descent looked much more perilous than the ascent, so on we went.

One hour and five minutes later, my brother and I were high-fiving at the summit. We made it. Sure, we may have spent the last quarter of the trail trying to keep up with a sprightly old man and his cane, but we made it.
Stepping outside of my comfort zone was difficult to say the least, but the views and rush of endorphins were definitely worth it. Also, the muffins at the Grouse Mountain cafeteria are to die for.

—Sarah Horlick