Touchstone Blog Archive
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
  More Yoga at Pipeworks
In response to the overwhelming popularity of the Yoga program at Pipeworks, we’ve added a new 7:45 pm class on Wednesday night taught by Setareh Mahdavi. Setareh was born into a yogi household in Tehran, Iran – her father is the founder of the first and most well-known Yoga center in Iran. At a young age Setareh decided to follow in her fathers footsteps, later taking the Sivananda teachers training course in South India and is now a certified international Sivananda teacher. Her style integrates the teachings of her father and the yoga school, resulting in an eclectic combination of Sivananda, Vinyasa Flow, Ashtanga and Iyengar Yoga. Come try this great new instructor!

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Monday, January 29, 2007
  Class 5 Under the Sea
Class 5 is proud to have Ethan Daniels/Travelin’ Light Images showing his photography in the hall gallery. Ethan specializes in underwater, nature, and travel stock photography and is presenting his award winning underwater photos. He has photographed thousands of marine species from Antarctic krill, and Humpback Whales, to coral spawning, and zebra sharks mating.
Ethan's interest in marine biology and conservation began during the summers of his youth in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. After graduating from Bucknell University in 1994 he spent a year working for the School for Field Studies in the Republic of Palau. After that eye-opening experience, nowhere else would do except the University of Guam Marine Lab for graduate school.

Once finished with school, Ethan made the permanent move to Palau continuing to work as a guide and naturalist for kayakers, divers, photographers and film crews. He led several productions including Discovery Channel's Shark Week "Predators in Paradise," Disney Channel, National Geographic Channel, and others.

After several years of reef observations and exploration throughout the archipelago he took a position as the National Science Coordinator with the Office of Environmental Response and Coordination. Ethan has coauthored and contributed photos to "Palau: Dive Sites, History, and Culture," "The Republic of Palau First National Communication to the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change," and, "The Republic of Palau National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan," currently in press.

Ethans work will be up through February at Class 5

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Friday, January 26, 2007
  TBS2 at Class 5
Class 5 was the center of the bouldering universe for a Friday evening. The TBS2 stop at Class 5 on Jan. 19th saw over 160 competitors climbing problems all over the gym. The course setting was great, and competitors and spectators partaking in free massage, pizza, beer, lemonade and soda. The two (washable) tattoo machines were in constant use all night as people inked up for good luck.

The winners of each division are:
Advanced: Gabe Masse Matt Bingham
Intermediate: Halley Tollner Brendan O’Dea
Beginning: Elizabeth Howe Dan Goldberg

For complete comp results go to the comps page. You can also see pictures from the Class 5 comp in our online gallery.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007
  SJ Crew to invade BI
We know it's hard to boulder anywhere else but at Touchstone San Jose, but we're inviting our members and friends to rally at Berkeley Ironworks the evening of Tuesday, January 30th, for a night of bouldering San Jose style. Session with Touchstone members in the East Bay and represent what the South Bay bouldering community is all about.
Come show your support for Touchstone San Jose!

***RSVP BEFORE 6:00PM ON TUESDAY 1/30 AT SAN JOSE to get in at Ironworks
for FREE!***

Plan on meeting at Ironworks around 7:00pm. Please carpool
and drive safely!

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007
  Touchstone Kit
Now's your chance to check off that item on your New Year's Resolution List and get into Touchstone high fashion. We're placing a new kit order on Monday, January 29, same design. (Note that we are offering two **NEW ITEMS: a long sleeve jersey and wind jacket.)

Items offered: Wind jacket (unisex - $60-70), W's longsleeve jersey ($60-70), W's shorts ($55), W's full-zip jersey ($60), M's longsleeve jersey ($60-70), M's full-zip jersey ($60), M's shorts ($55), M's bibs ($55). View sizing chart here.

If you would like to place an order, please e-mail the bike club.

Please place your order by NEXT MONDAY, JANUARY 29, 3PM. (Pay at pick-up. Estimated delivery time to the gyms is early March.) This will probably be the only order we place this year, so hop on the train and don't get left behind!

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Monday, January 22, 2007
  Free Massage
Bringing to Touchstone Concord an integrative form of holistic bodywork, Liscensed Massage Therapist Brian Cork will be offering complimentary 10 minute chair massage once a month starting the evening of January 24.

Combining techniques such as Trigger Point Therapy , Active-Release, Myofascial Therapy, Shiatsu, Acupressure and Deep Tissue, Brian works primarily with physically active people to help them maintain their bodies, as well as helping people to heal from injuries or imbalances from overuse.

Brian has over 500 hours of training in anatomy, kinesiology and bodywork. He has been climbing for 16 years (routesetting for 7), so he is quite familiar with the many movements and the stress and strain put on climbers' bodies.

To help Touchstone members welcome the New Year in good health, for the month of January Brian will be offering Touchstone members their first one-hour session at a rate of $40!!! See what a difference massage can make in your life. Come by on Wednesday the 24th and get 10 minutes of bliss - for FREE!

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Thursday, January 18, 2007
  Slideshow in Concord
Touchstone Concord is proud to host an evening with Crew 405. Venture Crew is an organization for teens that teaches them many valuable life skills and lessons through exploration of the outdoors. Every year, the group does at least one big mountaineering expedition, which for 2006 was a trip up Mt. Rainier.

Come hear their talk on what it takes to do the climb and see amazing slides of jumping crevasses. The slideshow starts at 8pm on Tuesday, January 23rd and will take place in the yoga room. This is a FREE event.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007
  Berkeley Blowout Sale
As if 40% off regular prices isn’t cool enough, folks shopping at Berkeley Ironworks can get even bigger savings on the super-saver clearance racks where everything is 70%- 80% off regular prices. Here’s your chance to pay almost nothing for an assortment of pants, shirts, tanks and more. Look for the racks marked CLEARANCE and get ready, nothing is priced higher than $14.99. Make it the excuse you’ve been looking for to visit Berkeley Ironworks. After shopping, you can do some climbing, too!

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007
  Catching Up with Hans
Hans Florine is obsessed with speed. He claims to time virtually everything: “driving distances, widget production, diaper changes, loan closings, newspaper reading.”

And climbing.

He won the first World Speed Climbing Championship back in 1991 and has been the U.S. National Speed Climbing champion nine times in the past 15 years. The 42-year-old Lafayette resident keeps setting speed records for climbing The Nose of El Capitan in Yosemite. (For the full scoop, check out

While you can’t quite say that Florine wrote the book on speed, that’s only because he hasn’t finished it yet. The tentative title is “Speed is Power,” and he recently got a New York agent to represent him in finding a publisher.

He goes back to the word’s original Anglo Saxon meaning of “speed,” which meant success and prosperity. Another way of saying it is “effective speed.”

“That is the same sort of speed I teach and talk about in my book,” he says. “The speed I’m talking about, there’s no application where it doesn’t work.”

Florine’s interest in climbing fast started when he realized he was good at it. It’s still something of a novel event at the world championships, he acknowledges, but speed climbing opens up a lot of possibilities. It allows him to fit in some climbing during lunchtime or on a weekend, and lets him do more climbing no matter how much time he has.

That helps explain how he’s been able to climb El Capitan 122 times, including 62 times up The Nose.

What keeps it fresh, he says, is that instead of having a regular climbing partner he seeks out fresh partners for each trip.

“I have done The Nose with over 100 people,” he says. “Just like you might have a walk you like to do around your neighborhood, pointing it out to people. You see them experiencing it for the first time.”

That’s also his approach to Touchstone, where he has been a shareholder since he helped put screws in the wall at Mission Cliffs in 1995. More than a decade later, he still runs a Monday night training class at Touchstone Concord and teaches a few private clients at the gym.

“Introduce somebody who doesn’t know about climbing to the gym,” he suggests. “You’ll get to re-live the excitement you had when you first got interested in climbing. I take lots of people out climbing for the first time, and you see their eyes get really big. It re-excites you about climbing and fitness.”

That attitude also reflects the big change at Touchstone over the years, he says.

“I think we have learned that our business is teaching people who don’t know how to climb and people who are just interested in fitness, instead of ‘let’s find the climbers in the community and make a place for them to play and exercise,’ ” he says.

His wife, Jacki, appreciates speed too. She holds the fastest time for Female Unsupported Solo Hike of the John Muir Trail. And a new generation of Florines is on the way up. At ages 3 and 6, however, the Florine children are mostly just climbing furniture at this point.

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Monday, January 15, 2007
  Free Slackline Clinic
Free Slackline Clinic January 23rd at Sacramento Pipeworks

Have you seen people walking the tightrope in the gym? It's called "slacklining" - a great balance sport utilizing tubular nylon webbing stretched tight between two anchor points. The origins of modern day slacklining are generally attributed to rock climbers living in Yosemite Valley in the early 1980s, but it is a good way to work on your balance and core strength even if you’re not a climber. We'll offer a free 1-hour introductory clinic to slacklining on Jan. 23rd at 6:30pm. Instructed by Pipeworks route setter and expert slacker Peter Dixon.

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Friday, January 12, 2007
  TBS 2 at Class 5

Class 5 is hosting the Touchstone Bouldering Series on Friday January 19th from 6-10 pm. Whether you are doing them all or are checking it out for the first time you should be running down to Class 5. All levels of climbers are welcome. You can see the current TBS standings here or check out pictures from some of the other TBS comps.

Added bonuses: Free pizza! Free Beer, lemonade and soda! Awesome t-shirts!

When: January 19th from 6pm to 10pm
Where: Class 5 Climbing in San Rafael
Who: All Touchstone Members & non-members
What: TBS2: The best bouldering comp around
Cost: FREE to members! $10 for non-members

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Thursday, January 11, 2007
  Touchstone Winter Sale
Question: What’s better than being stocked up on all your climbing attire essentials?

Answer: Knowing you purchased everything at the Touchstone Clearance sale for 40% off the regular price! Don’t kick yourself later for missing the biggest sale of the year on cool Prana, Patagonia, Mountain Hardwear shirts, pants, sweaters, jackets and more. Get to your nearest Touchstone gym where ALL* clothing, hats and scarves are on sale for 40% off! If you’re doing the math that means you can get those awesome down vests for $60 and women’s down jackets are a crazy-inexpensive $87! This sale is going on NOW, so hustle if you want the best selection!

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Tuesday, January 9, 2007
  Yoga Basics Workshop
4-week beginner series
with Eleni Gekas
Mission Cliffs

Saturdays, January 13, 20, 27, & Feb 3rd from 11am – 12:30pm

Feel intimidated by a fast-paced yoga class? Would you like to challenge yourself in the new year? Join our 4-week beginner series geared to those who are new to yoga, or would like a refresher on the details of the poses. Focus will be given to the "vinyasa" poses practiced in the other Mission Cliff's yoga classes, as well as balance postures and restorative poses. Join Eleni -recently returning from India.....! and a 10 year practitioner, 8 year teacher! This is a free member event. Sign-up at the front desk for the series. Space is limited.

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Monday, January 8, 2007
  Berkeley Artist
Michael Eastman, an Oakland native, has been fooling around with art since 1950. It was back then that grandpa put a paint brush in his hand. Only 1 year old at the time, it was silly to say he had anything going. But a few years later, while studying crayons in 1st grade he received his first hard critique for a work titled Santa. His teacher, a nun, pointed out that his subject was draped in purple. It was obvious that Michael saw colors much differently from others. But Michael remembers "being hooked" on the attention. So, this little issue did not deter him from pressing on.

At the age of 7, his pursuit of excellence in drawing with crayons paid off with a contest win. A simple drawing of a cowboy earned a trip to Disneyland for a weekend. "The colors must have been right," quipped Michael. Unfortunately, his drawing talents seemed to wander. But his interest in art did not wane. A high school class in photography rekindled his search for a way to express his vision. An eye for composition in photography and a blossoming career in commercial screen printing was enough to decide to chase art in college. But again, his dreams seemed forgotten as he languished in commercial screen printing for many years.

In 2003 Michael is at street fair where he sees a large print of a digital photograph. With the desire to become a serious artist still brewing, Michael pauses for a moment and thinks "I have found a medium that I can create with." The next day he bought a Nikon D100 and soon after a large format printer. For the last 3 years, Michael has been honing his photography skills while producing large prints from unique digital photographs.

"We are inundated by average or redundant photography on the web, in print and in advertisements daily. This makes it hard to distinguish fine art from the ordinary," observes Michael. "I try to be sure my work is unique, simple, and very good before it gets out of the studio."

Michael will be showing a brand new series of photographs at Berkeley Ironworks from January 3rd to February 15th. You can also check out his website for more information or to check out his photos:

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Friday, January 5, 2007
  Breaking News: Urban Climber & Climbing Magazine Join Forces
New York, NY, January 5, 2007 - Skram Media LLC, a platform company led by Mark Crowther, the publisher of Urban Climber Magazine and UCTV, announced today that it has completed the purchase of Climbing Magazine and from PRIMEDIA, Inc. (NYSE:PRM). Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Climbing Magazine Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Thesenga will continue to serve in his role from the current location in Carbondale, Colorado.

Thesenga said, "We have a talented and cohesive group here, and I am excited that Mark wants us to continue to build Climbing Magazine with our current staff from our current location. As part of an independent and entrepreneurial publishing group, Climbing Magazine and Urban Climber Magazine will be the unrivaled leaders in the climbing world."

Crowther, Skram Media's Chief Executive Officer, said the acquisition helps implement the company's strategy of being the leading special-interest media company in outdoor sports, with a targeted portfolio of magazines and websites and founded on a green ethic - both Climbing and Urban Climber magazines are printed on 100% recycled paper.


  Thrills and Chills
Winter brings a special kind of climbing challenge: ice. We’re not talking here about avoiding it, we’re talking about climbing it. Imagine ascending a frozen waterfall and you’ve got the idea. And one of the best places to do it is in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado.

Since 1995 the Ouray Ice Park in the Uncompahgre Gorge has offered free ice climbing, and this year it opened on Dec. 16. Or if you want to wait until after the new year, January brings the park’s annual Ouray Ice Festival, which is also its main fund-raising event. The festival features exhibition climbing, free clinics, seminars, slide shows, and gear demos.

Routes are never a problem as the park has a couple of miles of piping and can send water down the face of any rock that needs fresh ice. "With cold temperatures it really takes only two or three days,” says Erin Eddy, president of Ouray Ice Park Inc.

In some ways climbing ice follows the same rules as climbing rock.

“I think safety is the first thing,” Eddy says. “Know your knots. Know your limitations. Get competent instruction if you need it.”

But ice climbing also takes some special equipment such as ice tools and crampons. “You can write a $1,000 check pretty easily,” says Eddy, but the equipment can last for years.

For a taste of the ice fest, check out the series of videos at

But there are back-country routes in the region as well, and plenty of private guides to take you there. Bridal Veil Falls and Ingram Falls are within sight of the town of Telluride. The town of Ames has it’s own Ames Falls to climb, along with some smaller ones. Markham Connolly, director of operations for Touchstone, lived in Telluride for 10 years and call Bridal Veil and Ames the two classics. Bridal Veil is the largest waterfall in Colorado. Ingram rarely freezes into a single waterfall from top to bottom, however.

“When I did it, we had to do it in two stages,” he says. Because those two and Ames are all close to one another, some people try to do all three in a single day. “But that’s pretty ambitious,” Connolly says.

For people just getting into ice, Ouray may be a better bet. “It’s safe, easy -- just like climbing in a gym, but it’s outside,” Connolly says.

If you do head out into untended territory, Eddy recommends getting a guide. That’s avalanche country out there, and you want to be with someone who knows the terrain. Within the ice park, though, the environment is easier and friendlier, and all the bolts are already in place.

As Telluride and Ouray are only a 45-minute drive apart, you may have time to try both.

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Thursday, January 4, 2007
  The Pontas are Here
Based on Chris Sharmas’ climbing expertise and design ideas, Evolv has created a shoe for him which he used to send "Es Pontas", his deep-water solo project route in Mallorca, Spain. This January you too can experience this outstanding overall performance shoe.

The Pontas fuses precision, power, and responsiveness with an excellent glove-like fit. The back of the shoe fits securely from the base of the heel to the achilles without discomfort and dead space. It’s equipped with an extended toe rand for toe-hooking without feeling excessive as well as tri-grooves for relieving pressure off the big toe. The 3/4 length semi stiff midsole provides the ideal balance of edging power and responsiveness from toes to arch.

The Evolv PONTAS will inspire confidence on technical climbs with micro-edges as well as steep toe hooking climbs. At $115 you won’t want to miss out.

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Wednesday, January 3, 2007
  Biggest Loser
Who's the biggest loser at Touchstone Concord? That's the question Lupe Labourdett's indoor cycling and kickboxing students are trying to answer with their 2007 "Biggest Loser Competition." Anyone and everyone is invited to participate in this 6-week weight loss challenge.

How the challenge works: participants contribute $10 each to the prize purse, with the money going to the person who loses the most weight in six weeks. The first weigh-in takes place at Touchstone Concord on Wednesday, January 3rd, at 6:30pm. Six weeks later, on February 14th, everyone gets weighed one more time to determine the winner! After the second weigh-in, all participants are invited to go out and celebrate.

If you have a little extra you've been meaning to shed after the holidays and want to make losing weight in the New Year fun, give this a try! Have questions? Call Lupe at (925) 768-5127 or leave a message for her at the gym.

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Tuesday, January 2, 2007
Do you have friends, relatives, co-workers or classmates who are looking to get in shape after the holiday season? Let them in on the secret: Touchstone gyms are an awesome place to get a great work-out, be it on the climbing walls, in the cardio/fitness area or by taking one of our excellent fitness classes.

Touchstone gyms have everything a person needs to get healthy in 2007; plus a friendly, relaxed atmosphere with inviting, not intimidating, staff and members. And with no contracts ever and $0 initiation in January, there's no excuse not to try it out. So get yourself a new climbing or workout partner and invite someone to check out the gym today!

Remember, membership has its privileges: 15% off your beginner climbing package, 10% off any retail purchase over $75, one free guest per month, reciprocal membership to all Touchstone gyms . . . and much more!

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