If you told me two years ago I would become someone who regularly climbed 60 foot walls, owned Lululemon clothing and actively ate meat-free dinners before 6 p.m. I would have looked at you like you were crazy.
Now I am happily that person, intent on encouraging more people to check out this amazing sport.
Here are my top 10 reasons why you should too:
- It doesn’t feel like exercise.
For a lot of people, exercise involves repetitive motion – be it through some sort of cardio (running, elliptical, cycling) or strength-training (weights and resistance bands). But with rock climbing you’re always trying solve a fairly simple problem: how to get from the bottom of a wall to the top as best as possible. That being said…
- It’s a great mental and physical workout.
Since every route is different, you constantly have to figure out where to best put your arms, legs, hands and feet, while gauging energy levels, distances, and your own personal skill level. At the same time you’re burning calories, toning your muscles and slowly help you get over your fear of heights. Rock climbing increases your strength, balance and flexibility while improving your risk-assessment and problem solving skills.
- It’s incredibly social.
Everyone who rock climbs needs a belayer, which means you’re never alone. Since other people will often offer advice or encouragement, friendships are easily forged. I became such good friends with one couple at my gym they even invited me to their wedding.
- You can rock-climb year-round.
I love snowboarding, but I can only do it in the winter when there’s enough snow on the ground. Meanwhile many rock climbing facilities are open year-round, including holidays, long weekends and even some early morning hours. In the spring, summer and early fall there are also plenty of spectacular places to climb outdoors, like Yosemite National Park.
- You set your own goals.
Unless you’re competing, no one cares if you only made it halfway up a route. The important thing is you come back and try again. Maybe next time you’ll make it all the way up. And the time after that, you’ll find it a lot easier. It’s completely up to you.
- Your training schedule is up to you.
Unlike team sports, you can pick whenever you want to go. Want to take a few days off for a vacation? Sure. Change to three times a week? As long as you have a belayer, why not? There’s no set schedule to tie you down or hold you back from whatever else you want to do.
- You get to stare at people’s bums for safety reasons.
People-staring happens in every gym, but in climbing if you don’t do it properly someone can actually get hurt. Just make sure you also pay attention to the rope itself.
- There’s a large variety of ages, abilities, body types, backgrounds and occupations.
There are couples at my gym who are in their 50s and wipe the floor off of people half their age. I’ve seen two below-the-knee amputees. And at my gym, there’s almost an even split between men and women.
- It’s relatively inexpensive.
An entry-level set of equipment (harness, shoes and chalk bag) can be as little as $150, or about the same cost as a decent pair of running shoes. Gym memberships are about $45-$50 per month.
- There’s a great sense of accomplishment every time you go.
In a world where so much of the work we do is through computers, there’s something incredibly satisfying about physically making your way to top and then feeling empowered enough to do it again.