An Interview with Heidi Wirtz
Thank you for sharing some of your time with us, Heidi!
Editor: First of all, tell us about Earth Play Retreats…sounds like so much fun!
But it also has so much depth to it…I find it intriguing because the bedrock of your work is natural and spiritual. I think that is really appealing.
Heidi Wirtz: It has been super fun and rewarding for sure! Earth Play Retreats is about bringing community together to have a shared experience in nature. We connect through yoga, AcroYoga and outdoor activities to find the balance between playing hard and inner focus. These trips are designed to get people outside moving in nature so that they can in turn feel more alive and open. I feel that nature is the easiest way to connect back to our true selves and that is what these trips offer is that connection.
Editor: When did you first think about putting it together and why?
Heidi Wirtz: I have had the dream of combining my passions and creating this business for years. I actually drew up a logo about 19 years ago, kept thinking about it and then finally decided it was time one and half years ago.
Editor: Tell us about all the different activities that make up Earth Play Retreats.
Heidi Wirtz: We have different activities depending on the trip you decide to join. Most trips have AcroYoga and Yoga and a lot of the trips have a climbing component. We also have surfing, rafting, backpacking, hiking, slacklining, photography and mountain biking. All of our trips are all levels, so anyone can join.
Editor: How often is a retreat held? How many times a year?
Heidi Wirtz: Our calendar is constantly growing. At the moment we have 9 trips planned for 2015.
Editor: How does adventure tie into Earth Play Retreats?
Heidi Wirtz: We combine outdoor adventures with every trip. I have always felt that through nature and outdoor experience that you can find a deeper connection. We work with mindful movement and trying to push beyond your comfort zone to find greater expansion in your life.
Editor: It is so amazing that Earth Play Retreats also focuses on building our community. I truly like that about it.
Heidi Wirtz: I love the community aspect as well. I actually have been blown away by how awesome everyone is that comes on these trips. It feels like family to me.
Editor: Where is it usually held? Indoors or outdoors? Or both?
Heidi Wirtz: We typically try for all outdoors, though sometimes weather can force us inside for a yoga class. All of the adventure activities are outside.
Editor: Can non-yogis or non-climbers join?
Heidi Wirtz: For sure! All of our retreats are geared for all levels. I actually love seeing people that have never tried one of our offerings light up with excitement when they check something out for the first time.
Editor: I love how you help folks connect back to nature. A lot of city people seem to have lost that vital, spiritual connection. The city breeds so much stress!
And there’s nothing more spiritual than nature. Would you agree, Heidi?
Heidi Wirtz: I definitely agree. Being outside is where you can actually feel the real connection in my opinion. There are no boundaries outside. Just think of when you see something in nature that is spectacular…you might gasp, have the chills or have some wow/awe inspiring reaction right? This is the connection. We have this awe inside of us all the time...it's just how do we tap in to it. It's harder to feel that when you are stuck in a city, running around and feeling strapped for time. Nature has so many lessons for us. I really hope that people keep learning and open to all that it has to teach. I feel like nature is the way for sure! It's like really good medicine.
Editor: When did you develop an interest in yoga and which type of yoga do you like?
Heidi Wirtz: I started practicing yoga over 25 years ago. I was living in Crested Butte, CO at the time (being a ski bum), when I developed a severe sciatica problem. I had been in a lot of car accidents when I was a kid growing up in Sacramento (I wasn't the driver on any of them, just unlucky with the cars I was in), which finally came back to get me in my early 20's.
Anyway, it got so bad that I couldn't sleep nights, so I finally went to an acupuncturist who worked some magic on me. She told me after the session that I could either keep coming to her for the rest of my life or that I needed to start doing yoga. I was a ski bum, so going to get work done every week sounded a bit pricey compared to trying yoga. I started yoga and my sciatica problems never came back.
I started first with just a book and then started going to Ashtanga classes. I stayed with that practice up until the past 5 years, when I found Anusara. Now my practice is a combo of the two.
Editor: What is the web site for Earth Play Retreats? Does it have a Facebook page?
Heidi Wirtz: www.earthplayretreats.com
Editor: How old were you when you first started climbing and where was it?
Heidi Wirtz: I started climbing when I was around 19. I was really into backpacking and bagging peaks at that point in my life. We would scramble up peaks cleaning old webbing off of rocks and "clean up the mountains" is was what we thought we were doing, but we were actually cleaning off the descent anchors. Oops. Anyway, then my little tribe of friends at the time and I finally bought a rope and a few nuts, some carabiners and lots of webbing and started throwing ropes off of every cliff we could find to learn how to climb, so that we could climb harder peaks. We were pretty sketchy back then and I am psyched that I made it through my early days of climbing.
I have some sketchy tales if you want them, but we can save those for another time.
Editor: Hey, you bet I'm interested in those sketchy tales!
Who taught you to climb and what lessons did they teach you, that you still carry with you today?
Heidi Wirtz: We initially learned to climb on our own, though I did finally have an old dad take me under his wing after I fell leading a pitch that I shouldn't have been on and scraped all the skin off of the inside of my arm and my side. I think he wanted to keep me alive. I learned a lot from my early days of climbing both with my little sketchy tribe and from my eventual mentor, Joe Melley. I learned that knowing your limits can be a good thing, but also that you have to step out of your comfort zone so that you can grow. I did a lot of growing in those early years.
Editor: You’re an amazing yogi and a phenomenal rock climber.
How do you find the balance to do both things so well?
Heidi Wirtz: That's a funny question because my intention for 2015 is balance. I actually think that yoga and climbing go hand in hand and that finding the balance between the two is not difficult to find (especially if you need both of them as I do). It helps that I am a total exercise fanatic and actually I get kind of in a sad state if I don't get to play outside enough.
I guess I am addicted, which I take as a good thing, because it keeps me healthy and fit. And the yoga is a necessity for my body at this point. I think I would fall apart if I didn't do it regularly. I do sometimes loose a bit of one or the other when I am traveling too much, and I think it's ok to sometimes not be totally driving hard with climbing and yoga all the time.
Resting is ok, which I would not have said five or ten years ago. Now that I have my own business and all the things that I love in my life are more of a priority there is more to juggle, but I think it just takes a lot of dedication, organization and planning. You might have to sacrifice certain things to make what you want a reality, but you weigh it out and make those decisions. I have for sure sacrificed certain things to get to where I am in both climbing and yoga. It is about being grateful for what you have, taking advantage of every moment and living life to its fullest.
Editor: What is the one thing your fans would love to know about you, but don’t.
Heidi Wirtz: Hmmm. Not sure what they know and don't know about me actually. I love to dance though... and dress up in costumes and get crazy on the dance floor sometimes! Maybe I will see some of you out there at some point :-)
Editor: Let’s talk music and books…when you have time, what kind of books do you read and what kind of music do you love?
Heidi Wirtz: I love reading both fiction and non-fiction...Adventure and philosophical...I guess I like almost any book that is well written and has a good story or powerful good lessons on life. I don't like scary stories though. I like electronic music that I can dance to and I have to say I am actually pretty picky as far as music goes. I like well-produced, creative music that isn't too repetitious that has some good bass. I also like a variety of other music like certain hip hop, some jam bands and you will find me listening to yogic chanting at times as well. It really depends what I am doing though.
Editor: Did you watch Valley Uprising? What did you think of Tommy and Kevin sending the Dawn Wall?
Heidi Wirtz: I only saw the unfinished version of this film. Seemed super awesome though! I love that it is similar in style to movies like Dogtown and Z-boys. It is an awesome story and well done for sure. I think what Tommy and Kevin have accomplished is really amazing. Not only did they send the hardest route to date on El Cap, but somehow they managed to get into the mainstream media in such a phenomenally huge way.
It is impressive and can only do good things for the outdoor industry and climbing I would think. I also love how their story of determination, resilience and dedication really came to light. How you need these things to achieve big dreams is a great message for people and will hopefully inspire people to follow their own dreams.
Editor: I sure agree with that. Thank you for sharing your insights with us, Heidi…it’s so good to have had the chance to speak to you about Earth Play Retreats, and hope to catch up with you again with another interview soon.
Interview conducted by Vera Kaikobad L. Ac.
Editor of the Facebook Page: 'An Interview With'.
Editor-in-Chief of ClimbSkiBoulderMagazine.com
Interview © Vera Kaikobad L. Ac.
Photo Credit: http://johnlloydphoto.com/
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New Years in Joshua Tree. Acroyoga, yoga, camping and rock climbing. Earth Play Retreats. Photo Credit: John Lloyd http://johnlloydphoto.com/
On the Cover
Heidi Wirtz - Earth Play Retreats
Cover Date: February 12th, 2015