If the thought of going for yet another morning jog fills you with dread, fear not: rock climbing is here to spice up your workout routine.
In recent years rock climbing has become increasingly popular on mainstream media. It became a hot topic when Alex Honnold completed the first-ever free solo ascent of Yosemite’s El Capitan in 2017, inspiring many and terrifying many more, especially following the release of the documentary of the epic climb. Now, it’s a common occurrence to see climbers show off their skills on social media, making you feel both impressed at their photos and particularly subconscious about your skinny arms.
Although looking at videos of Aquaman’s Jason Momoa climbing walls like a beast and being amazed at pictures of climbers holding on to tiny rocks over vertiginous heights might make you think otherwise, rock climbing is one of the most welcoming and exciting sports in existence today. Here are the main reasons why you should consider giving it a try.
Everyone Can Do It
When it comes to climbing, age and size are not limiting factors. It doesn’t matter how tall, big, or old you are, your body will be able to adapt, and it’ll find its way to the top of the wall you decide to climb. It’s unlike most other sports that require an early start or a specific advantage to make great achievements. All you need is to learn the basic movements, and you’re set. So despite what you see when you Google “rock climbing,” this sport does not involve a battle of the fittest. Even 99-year-old ladies can climb!
It’s a Fun Full-Body Workout
Once you start climbing regularly, you can forget about spin class and treadmills. Your workout routine will change and so will your body.
Unlike soccer or swimming, this is the kind of sport that makes every inch of your body feel sore the next day. In your early stages you’ll be feeling pain in muscles you didn’t even know existed! The most satisfying aspect is that while your body works hard to fight gravity, your brain gets so fully pumped with dopamine and serotonin that it doesn’t process the workout as a punishment like it does when you do burpees.
In time, your endurance will improve, you’ll become more flexible, and your strength will multiply. Your days of needing someone to open jars for you will be long gone! And if that wasn’t enough, consider the fact that it’s possible to burn between 500 and 900 calories per hour of climbing. Are you convinced yet?
Getting Started Is Affordable
Though it depends on what kind of climbing you want to focus on, all you really need to get started is a pair of climbing shoes. You can buy them second-hand, or you can purchase a fresh new pair for as little as $60.
If you want to do top-rope, then you’ll need your own harness, a belay device, and a chalk bag, which shouldn’t cost you more than $150 altogether as a beginner. However, you can always rent all the necessary equipment at the gym, where a monthly membership generally costs as much as a regular gym membership.
It Rewards You in Many Ways
Experiencing indoor and outdoor climbing differs in a few ways, but the essence remains the same. You find your challenge, study the route, figure out the movements, and then climb to the top, where you take a moment to savor that sweet taste of well-earned victory.
It’s a confidence boost that keeps you coming back, leading to fast improvements in a short amount of time. The enthusiasm and satisfaction of climbing a wall without falling (while hooked onto a safety rope!) will make you want to try harder levels every time you go back, making it feel like an addiction to self-improvement.
The ability to quickly reap the benefits of such an intense activity makes it the perfect sport for instant-reward driven millennials. But then again, who doesn’t enjoy such positive reinforcement?
It’s a Social Sport
Making friends at your local climbing gym is almost inevitable. Just like everyone else, you’ll be spending a lot of time off the wall, and that’s when conversations begin to flow. It could be someone giving you some beta (suggestions on how to do a climb), the belayer next to you feeling bored, or a fellow climber wanting to chat about a route you or they just did.
So even if you don’t have a top-roping partner you can rock up to your local bouldering gym and trust that within a short time you’ll find someone willing to put their lives in your hands and vice-versa. Climbers are very social creatures and would never pass up the opportunity to have another belayer on their contact list.
You Can Do It Any Time of the Year
While outdoor climbing is weather dependent, indoor climbing is a year-round option for those days when you’re craving that sense of accomplishment only a tough route can give you. Nowadays, climbing gyms are opening up even in small towns so the likelihood that you’re just a couple of hours away from one is very high. It’s a fun activity that can keep you or the whole family entertained for a good part of your day, no matter the time of day, no matter the season.
It’s a Great Option for Thrill-Seekers
Research has found that sports involving an element of fear cause the brain to release higher doses of endorphins, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters alleviate pain and enhance performance, making the body feel a whole new level of excitement. Thus the scarier the sport is, the more addictive it can be. That’s why it’s so easy to get hooked on rock climbing despite a fear of heights.
It Makes Travel Even More Exciting
TThere is nothing like the view from the summit of a rock you’ve just climbed.
Once you start climbing outdoors, your perspective on traveling will change. Not only will you be constantly thinking about the next wall you’ll want to conquer, but you’ll also be daydreaming about the incredible places you can go to do it.
You’ll be able to go off the beaten path and enjoy scenes as never before. Your sense of accomplishment will reach new heights and so will your love for the sport. Forget about the beach; let’s climb that epic cliff and enjoy the sunset from high above!
You Learn Essential Life Skills
Problem-solving is a central aspect of climbing. Every route is like a puzzle you need to solve. In fact, routes are called ‘problems’ in the bouldering arena. You have to get inventive, be consistent, and be persistent if you want to complete a new challenge because it doesn’t matter if you get beta from other climbers or if you can’t reach a specific hold—you are the one that has to climb to the top.
It’s a sport that requires a lot of brain power. You have to stay focused and convince your body that it can do the climb even when your muscles want to give up. It’s also a great way to get more teamwork experience, building relationships and establishing roles to carry out an activity in the most efficient way possible.
Rock climbing trains your body as much as it trains your brain. It entails hard-work, but the rewards will keep you coming back. So if you’re tired of the same old workout routine and need something more stimulating than a jog around the park, why not give rock climbing a try?