Whether joining a rock gym or ascending a cliff, climbing demands strength, energy, and confidence. In return, you get a full body workout, newly toned muscles, and an all-around healthier, happier you. Here’s why you should make climbing a part of your life this year.
1) Rock Climbing Builds Muscle
While it may seem that rock climbing is all about upper body strength, beginners are often surprised to learn that successful climbing requires the entire body. Finishing–or “sending”–a route engages muscle groups in the legs and back, as well as relying on lean muscle, tricky footwork, and a LOT of flexibility. Climbing for an hour can burn as many as 700 calories, making it the equivalent of a cardio-heavy workout such as jogging.
2) It’s Also a Mental Workout
Another benefit of rock climbing is the inner dialogue involved in breaking down routes, or “problems.” Figuring out which hold to grab, where to place your feet, and how to properly shift your weight for the most optimal reach all stimulate your brain. Not to mention being outside–research suggests that time outside can boost your memory, spur creativity, and can even have the same wakening effect as drinking caffeine.
3) It’s Never Boring
At a rock gym, you will constantly have new routes to work on. The gradient of difficulty ensures that there will always be something to improve your climbing prowess. There are no repetitive routines, and each time you climb, there are new skills to teach yourself. And when you’re not on the wall, there will invariably be other climbers around to chat with. Since climbers often work in pairs–with one person climbing while the other belays–rock climbing is incredibly social. Other climbers often look on to offer encouragement or advice, which makes new friendships easy to forge at the rock gym.
Ready to get started?
If you’re ready to take on your first rock, it’s easier to get started than you may think. If you’re a beginner climber, look into joining a local rock gym. Memberships are generally around $60 a month, depending on where you live, and plenty of gyms offer package deals. Gyms are a great way to train yourself and meet other climbers. If you live near natural rock formations, take what you learn at the gym and go hone your technique on real rock.
Remember that if you’re using ropes, always, ALWAYS double-check your knots and gear. Climbing is dangerous if you are not careful about safety. And don’t forget to rub chalk on your hands before you start a route–chalk helps climbers from slipping.
And of course, don’t forget to let loose and enjoy it. Swinging on rocks and ropes harkens back to childhood, so relax and relish your newfound hobby.