Rock Climb Your Fitness to New Heights
If you know any seasoned rock climbers or even have watched any rock climbers in action, one thing is very evident. Besides the chalky and firm handshakes, they are an amazingly fit group of athletes and enthusiasts. At the elite level, climbing requires high levels of physical and mental exertion. But for every level, climbing builds strength, flexibility, and coordination, activating a diverse range of muscles with an endless possibility of movements.
Perhaps one of the best resistance exercises, climbing also provides an excellent cardiovascular workout. And we’re not talking about the jump in heart rate you may experience from scoping out the height of your first climb. As with any exercise, challenging yourself for prolonged periods of time increases the cardio benefits.
The Growth of Rock Climbing
Although the sport has existed, really since the first person decided to climb a rock, the subculture of climbing began to emerge in the U.S. in the 1960’s. Seeking a sense of adventure, freedom and a deeper connection to the great outdoors, young innovators like Yvon Chouinard began cultivating and improving equipment to improve access and safety. Before founding Patagonia, he ran Chouinard Equipment, blacksmithing his own pitons for anchoring ropes to explore Yosemite Valley.
By the 1980’s international climbing competitions were popping up and the first World Championship was held in Frankfurt, Germany. And now, Sport Climbing will make its debut in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games featuring three disciplines: Speed, Bouldering and Lead. Speed climbing has two climbers racing against each other up a 12-meter wall. Bouldering competitors scale fixed routes in a specified time and Lead athletes climb as high as possible in a set time.
Best Way to Try Rock Climbing
You don’t have to attempt a mind-blowing free-solo climb of a natural landmark like El Capitan to get a grip on what rock climbing is all about. Indoor rock climbing gyms are growing in popularity and it’s a perfect way to learn the ropes and get a great workout.
Climbing gyms provide expert instruction with introductory courses on how to move on the wall, belaying and how to spot your partner. All the needed equipment, like shoes and harnesses, are usually available to rent for the session but if you are going to add climbing to your list of activities, having your own trusty gear is best.
So, if you are interested in building some arm strength, core strength and confidence, pop into your local climbing gym. There is a whole social community waiting to welcome you to one of the fastest-growing sports. Maybe you will “fall” in love with it!
Some of the Top Climbing Gyms
BaseCamp, Reno, NV
Inside the Whitney Peak Hotel, BaseCamp is home to the Guinness Book of World Record’s “Tallest Artificial Climbing Wall”. The massive, 164-foot wall is outside, built into the side of the hotel, towering over the Reno main drag below. BaseCamp welcomes all levels of climbers with intro classes, a dedicated kid’s room and also serves as a training ground for world-class, professional athletes.
Reach Climbing Gym & Fitness Center, Philadelphia, PA
Reach Climbing is a purpose-built facility with 15-meter regulation walls, 58-foot walls as well as extensive fitness, yoga, weight training, and community spaces. Reach also was a host for the 2019 USA Climbing Sport & Speed Youth National Championships.
Boulders Climbing Gym, Madison, WI
Founded in 1996, Boulders has two locations in Madison, featuring over 16,000 square feet of combined climbing space. They also have a portable wall to rent that comes fully staffed with trained employees that set up, belay and manage and takedown.