Member Spotlight: Dan Salahuddin

Member Spotlight: Daniel SalahuddinReported by: Luke Alpert, ASCEND Community Hypeman

Dan Salahuddin came to Pittsburgh in 2017 from Miami, where he attended medical school, to be a resident at the University of Pittsburgh’s Family Medicine and Psychiatry program. Dan is originally from Bradenton, Florida, where, he eagerly told me, the Pittsburgh Pirates do their spring training.

Upon, arriving in Pittsburgh Dan began searching for a gym. 

“I was looking for more than just CrossFit. I enjoyed doing yoga. I had a friend who rock climbed and that piqued my interest. So When I came to Pittsburgh I Googled rock climbing and ASCEND popped up, and here I am.”

Dan and his wife Emily came to Pittsburgh, and to climbing, together. 

“First of all, it’s fun.” Dan says, the second I ask why climbing has become such a favorite sport. “It challenges you in ways that a lot of other workouts don’t. It’s great for building community and making friends, and it also challenges you mentally. When you’re climbing there’s nothing that you’re thinking about but getting up that wall, putting all the pieces together, and there’s something about that that I find really therapeutic.”

For Dan, climbing, fitness classes, and yoga, are only part of what makes ASCEND a special place to return to. “I value having friends outside of medicine, I’ve appreciated MC1R* and I am excited to continue building that community and those relationships.”

For Dan the community surrounding climbing is enriched both by climbing as an activity and the people and perspectives it draws. “It’s different to climb with other people versus lifting weights. You’re actively problem solving together, taking into account different body types and strengths, and then when you’re not talking climbing you’re getting to know that person on a deeper level with this baseline of climbing that you can build off of.” 

“Climbing has never been competitive, every person I climb with appreciates the level that each of us are at. You don’t put too much pressure on yourself, sure you want to push yourself but you also accept where you’re at and let it come to you, which is totally different than any other workout. I don’t know what it is, I’m a pretty competitive person, but climbing is just about the climbing. It’s very liberating.” It is in this spirit that Dan is helping to build a more open and inclusive community through MC1R, and more broadly, enriches the Pittsburgh climbing community through the experience of liberation through movement, problem solving, and progress.

“It’s been this refuge. It’s contributed a lot to my wellness during my first two years of residency. I know that I will always be able to come here and feel better when I leave. When i’m in a tough rotation or not in the best headspace, this is a place I know I can come to.”

 *ASCEND’s MC1R group is a gym-affiliated club that serves as an inclusive space for people of color and ethnic minorities to climb together and explore the outdoors while supporting each other mentally and physically. Click here to learn more.