Friday was my first time in two months that I was able to climb after my hip injury. Normally I’d have to wait until I got back to Austin, but a rock climbing gym just opened in El Paso. It’s called the Cave Climbing Gym and I recommend checking it out if you’re in the area. So, in celebration of my return to climbing, I present a list of reasons on why you should rock climb.
- You’ll get a full-body workout. While climbing never quite feels like a workout, it works out every part of your body; arms, back, core, legs—yes, I said legs. You get a lower-body workout in addition to an upper-body one, but people tend to discount what their legs can do for them when they first start climbing. They’ll pull with their arms first and scramble to find footholds second. Our legs are the strongest part of our body, however, and actually provide the most help in propelling us up the wall. In addition to strength, climbing also combines cardio and flexibility training into one package. By climbing for just an hour, you can burn around 500 calories and you’ll improve your flexibility from consistently stretching your limbs to reach holds.
- You’ll make new friends. While climbing itself is a solo act, it is also a social activity. If you are lead or top-rope climbing, you need someone to belay you. If you are bouldering, it is good to have a spotter. When you climb with others, you can play fun games like add-on or wall-tag. You can exchange beta** with other climbers or learn a new technique. Depending on your age, you can also join a youth rock climbing team in your area. Almost everyone in the climbing community is friendly and helpful and will encourage and push you to climb your best. (Side note: I only add “almost” because I don’t know everyone in the climbing community, but I’m pretty sure they’re all friendly).
- You’ll increase your confidence. We often don’t know what our bodies are capable of until we’re physically pushed to the limit. Mentally, our mind gets in the way and tells us to stop the minute we feel fatigued. Climbing will make you push past those mental barriers in order to make it to the top of a route. Sometimes it’s a route that you previously thought impossible for your ability level. It makes you realize just how much more you’re capable of accomplishing if you put in the work.
- It’s FUN. There’s nothing like unleashing your inner monkey. Kids especially have a knack for picking up rock climbing and it’s because we as humans have a natural inclination towards it.
If reading this has made you want to try out rock climbing (first of all, I’m proud of my persuasion skills) then I recommend hitting up a rock climbing gym near you. They usually offer beginner classes so that you can learn the ropes and then you can unleash your newly learned skills in the gym or on real rock!
**Beta is a specific sequence of moves that a climber uses in order to make it to the top of a route. Beta can be different depending on the climber.