The School of Hard Rock is more than a youth program; it's the start of a life long journey...

Joë climbing at Lion's Head in Tobermory in 1996

Over 20 years ago, I discovered rock climbing and it changed my life. I was always athletic, but just a little bit different. I dabbled in team sports like basketball and volleyball and it was fun, but not quite for me. Cycling was my first passion, and I love riding bikes to this day. But in the heat of competition, racing bikes always gave me the butterflies in my stomach, and I didn't like the feeling; even if I wasn't very competitive.

When I found climbing, everything changed. I found something that came natural. Not just the climbing, but the comfort in the individual challenge. It wasn't about anybody else, it was just about me, the rock, the conditions, the way my body moves, my ability to adapt-react-adapt-again, and continue forward. When I got into competitive climbing, I didn't get the butterflies, because it didn't matter how anyone else was doing. Other people didn't have an impact on me. I was the one in control of my own capabilities, my breathing, my nerves and my performance, and that was exciting to me!

Back when I started, climbing was a small community. It was considered an "extreme sport" and outside of the mainstream. But there has been some big progress in the sport that's changed that. Climbing walls, climbing gyms are everywhere. Sport climbing will be in the 2020 Olympic games, and there are many options for safe, controlled environments to develop, and grow and make life long friends.

Climbing is an individual sport, with strong relationships formed. Sport climbing requires trust, patience and encouragement from your partner. Bouldering by its very nature is social as climbers gather to motivate and encourage each other along, regardless of the ability levels. It's an individual sport, that benefits from a strong team structure.

I'm excited to be leading the team at Aspire Climbing in Milton as we launch our very own youth development program called the School of Hard Rock. It's a program designed for youth progression; inspiring kids to aspire for more. We provide the skills and building blocks to overcome obstacles, in climbing and in life.

Joë still cranking at age 43

Climbing made me confident, it made me self-aware. It gave me cognitive understanding of my strengths and my weakness. How to leverage what I'm good at, how to improve where I'm weak, and how to get help where I need it most. Climbing pulled me out of my shell, and I'm excited what it can do for the community of Milton!

Joë Layno

General Manager

Aspire Climbing

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