This month, we’re shining the FA Member Spotlight on Laura Guengerich. She is the perfect example of how happy and versatile our FA Community is!  You can find Laura taking multiple yoga classes throughout the week, working her way through a long route, or whipping something yummy up in the kitchen! Laura found FA back in 2015 and instantly fell in love. Since then, she has totally immersed herself into the FA community and culture. Read on for more!

How did you get into climbing?
A guy I was dating introduced me to climbing the first year I moved to Chicago. That relationship is long over, but I never stopped climbing.My climbing patterns have changed depending on my address, job, and climbing partners. For a while there was a pattern that all my climbing partners moved from Chicago to cities where they could climb outdoors more regularly.

I moved from CAC gyms to First Ascent during FA’s member pre-sale in 2015. It’s by far the best climbing community-fit I’ve experienced during 12 years in Chicago land, I mean, they have yoga too! My aunt introduced me to yoga when I got mono during college and couldn’t exercise. I’ve been practicing yoga in one form or another ever since.

What do you love about climbing?
Climbing has made me strong, and yoga has made me balanced. They are the perfect yin/yang exercise combination for me.

I think that part of human development is finding the exercise and dietary habits that work best for your body. I failed at group sports season after season as a kid, and that is so devastating to a child. I’m so lucky I found climbing!

I want to be around people who love the outdoors like I do, and most climbers do!

Bouldering or sport climbing?
I try bouldering but prefer sport. I like spending time working on a longer route.

What is your favorite place to climb outdoors? What other outdoor activities do you participate in?
I average about one climbing trip per year and ideally would do more. My favorite rock is red sandstone, like at Red Rock in Nevada, or Watervall Boven in South Africa, where I went for my first outdoor trip and got hooked.There’s nothing like red rocks against blue sky!

I love hiking as much as climbing. When I was growing up, my parents took my brother and sister and me to different National Parks every summer. The U.S. National Parks are absolutely unique in this world in terms of size and geography. We have to keep them around for ourselves and future generations!

I kayak recreationally on the Lake, and I’m trying to be a more confident biker. I’m at my best outside.

Do you have any particular climbing projects or fitness goals for this year?
I’d like to climb at FA with a more consistent schedule. It can be tough with work, partners’ schedules, and life. I carve a place in my schedule for yoga at least once a week. I can definitely tell when I skip, something is just not quite right. I’d like to feel the same about climbing, and never make excuses.

What keeps you busy when you’re not climbing?
Food and travel. My boyfriend is a fantastic cook, and I’m not bad.I just got back from eating my way through Southern Italy with an awesome friend who has a healthy appetite like me.

What do you love about Chicago?
The Lake. Chicago would not be the same without it. I also love living in Chicago because it’s so connected to the rest of the world through a big airport, and that’s important for me.

What is your favorite Chicago spot for food, music, art or culture?
Hot G Dog. Eataly. Also, I work at a school in Albany Park, which is such a cool microcosm of the world. You can eat any kind of cuisine in Albany Park.

What is something about you most people don’t know?
I’m a speech-language therapist. I think most people assume I’m a teacher when I say I work for CPS. Maybe I look like a teacher? But I’m terrible at public speaking, and teachers do that all day long. Public school teachers are among the most under-appreciated public servants, and we should thank them every day. I just work behind the scenes.

Anything else you want to say to the FA Community?
Along with the rest of the Chicago climbing community, I’m so grateful to FA for giving us this huge, beautiful gym, with such fantastic routes, staff, and programs.

Check into a yoga class if you’ve never been. The teachers are so kind, so professional, and so willing to work with you and what your body can do.

Also I want to call attention to the amazing women across multiple generations who climb, and who climb at FA! One of the best things I ever did at CAC was join the “Climb Like a Girl” event about 5 years ago. The women I met there are fantastic, and also involved at FA!