Chances are you know somebody or know somebody who knows somebody
that rock climbs.
Perhaps you've entertained the idea of climbing. Why not? You thought about how cool and unique it is, and subsequently how cool and unique it will make you. So you decide Alright I'll look into this. I'll google it. And you do. Unfortunately the photos you pull up of men, women and kids alike clinging to an overhanging cliff are enough to make your hands clammy. Hell no, you say when you realize you are required to climb up to 80 feet above the ground. Then you remember you're deathly afraid of heights and promptly conclude the kid in the photo is a freak prodigy.
Sadly this is how the climbing journey begins and ends for many. But not you. Because I'm here to explain why climbing is the best full-body workout around!
But first, let's understand your fear of heights.
The fear of heights is an evolved adaptation to a world where falls posed a significant danger. It's an instinct found in many mammals and an innate cautiousness around heights has proved helpful for survival. A round of applause for instincts please! However, are brains have quite rapidly evolved giving us rationale thought and thus free will. Free will
is a concept used to refer to the belief that human behavior is not absolutely determined by external causes. The result of choices made by an act of will based on our motives and intentions. So greet your fears, expect them. That's instinct. But use your Free Will to move with the fear. Have a dialogue with it. Give a rationale reason for each irrational thought. Treat "I'm going to fall to my death" with "you're in a harness attached to a fool-proof rope system set up by professionals."
So provided you aren't a acrophobiac, you can climb!
Alright that sounds tough. But once your passed the initial amateur drama you can really start to enjoy the game of climbing.
Gym climbing especially is a true full-body workout. Contrary to want you might think, it's not just pull ups. It’s more like an increasingly pumpy body puzzle. People often climb as a stand alone workout or to supplement their existing regime. Climbing recruits your fingers, forearms, biceps, triceps, shoulders, traps, lats, core, quads, hamstrings, calfs, ankles and toes. Don't believe me? Just look at climbers bodies! They ain't pushin' iron...
But just because you're Arnold in the gym don't expect to be Spiderman on the walls.
The benefit of using climbing to supplement your existing routine is that it targets the smaller, tricky to activate muscle groups. As an exercise you get benefits from both endurance and dynamic strength training, and both fast and slow twitch muscles are required. Giving your body an overall quality of muscle development you just can't achieve with dumbbells alone. Not to mention each time you climb you will be practicing coordination and balance while working on that often neglected component of fitness - flexibility. All the high-stepping, wide-stepping and reaching you will be doing will increase your ROM in no time.
Dudes, that sounds like... Man-yoga! Bonus..?!
And wait... there's more!
It is widely known that exercise has positive health benefits for the brain, like increased oxygen and blood flow and the release of chemicals like adrenaline and endorphins. Well the facts are coming in on climbing and brain development. And it's becoming increasingly clear on a neuropsychological level that the dynamic and diverse nature of movements and body awareness involved in rock climbing stimulates brain growth and strengthens interconnections within the brain. These connections contribute to the success of any and all activities in which you must use the mind. This means when you have a job to do but say you’re nervous... your brain will be more capable of sticking to the intended task instead of being overruled by emotions, behavior or outside distractions. You'd be amazed how this quality will influence your daily life.
I will finish with mentioning that climbing gyms or the local outdoor crag is a place for building camaraderie, trust and self confidence.
...And it's the perfect activity to get involved with if you're single, for two reasons.
1) There is eye-candy literally dangling in harnesses from the ceiling. So many butt-shots, so little time...
2) The climbing gym is a place where exchanging route beta is fun and encouraged! This opens dialogue with the hottie belaying beside you. Hello future climbing partner!
And I've got to give a shout out the couples in here! Climbing is like super fun therapy to strengthen any relationship. It's the perfect team building activity. Climbing will be the shared passion in which you'll strengthen your trust and communication with your significant other, while getting fit and sexy.
So call up your local gym or locate a climbing guide in your area and see what all the hype is about. You will get a sense of accomplishment with your workout, and over a relatively short time improve your mental, physical, and even the social aspects of your life. Climb on!