Take the stairs — all 1,012 of them

What you should know about the American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb
Ralyn Strong and Erika York, before the 2012 stair climb

courtesy of Erika York

You know you’ve done it. You’ve stood in front of the elevator, waiting a ridiculously long time for it to show up to take you up three flights when you know the stairwell is right there, beckoning you with promises of a better butt and a healthier heart.

But you pass, and rapid-fire tap that elevator button.

So you might be surprised to learn that hundreds of people every year willingly sign up to climb 45 flights — which translates to 1,012 stairs — in the American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb in Atlanta, which seeks to raise money and awareness for the 35 million Americans who suffer from asthma.

This event will take place at 8 a.m. on Sat., April 6 in downtown’s One Ninety One Peachtree Tower.

The civilians among us will start first, followed by the firefighters, most of whom will compete in “turnout gear.” We’re not just talking a helmet — the whole outfit can weigh more than 50 pounds.

Last year, two of my fitness-instructor colleagues led training climbs at Resolution Fitness in the One Ninety One Peachtree Tower and participated in the race.

And they did it in full firefighter get-ups. Without keeling over.

Here, Erika York and Ralyn Strong offer their tips on preparing for and making it through the climb of your life:

  1. Train, even if it means just taking the stairs at work.
  2. To build endurance before the race, switch up the number of floors you attempt each time you train. For example: eight floors up, four floors down; eight more flights up and all the way to the bottom. Next day, four floors up, four floors down. Then work to beat your time.
  3. Hydrate, especially the night before the event. You’re gonna get sweaty.
  4. Dress in light layers. It gets very hot in the stairwell, especially near the top.
  5. Stretch before you enter the stairwell and after.
  6. Eat a smart breakfast.
  7. Don’t be intimidated. The race organizers time participants so that one person enters the stairwell every ten seconds. So it’s not a mob of sweaty bodies, yelling, pushing, and pulling each other down to reach the top.
  8. Volunteers are posted on many of the floors, offering water and snacks and cheering you on.
  9. The need to throw up may hit you at about floor 35, but it will pass.
  10. Keep some snacks in your pocket: A handful of nuts, a granola bar, jelly beans — you might need the extra energy. Also, bring a water bottle with you and leave it on a specific floor to get a swig on the way down.

The registration fee is $25, plus an individual fundraising minimum of $100. For more information, visit the American Lung Association’s site for the event.

And rest assured: You can take the elevator back down when the race is over.

Erika York is an Atlanta native and certified fitness instructor who formerly worked at Resolution Fitness in downtown’s One Ninety One Peachtree Tower. Ralyn Strong is a group fitness instructor and Pilates specialist who worked at Resolution Fitness before opening her own public health business in Tucson, Arizona.