I tried rock climbing for the first time this weekend, and although I'm petrified of heights, I loved it! I've already booked to go back for another session.
Although I got a lot of enjoyment out of the session, I also realised that it was a full body workout too because my body was aching when I got home, so it got me thinking about what the benefits are of doing rock climbing.
I don't claim to be a professional as it was obviously only my first time, but I have compiled this list from my own experience, from talking to the instructor and from research online.
5 Improved communication and listening skills
Although you may not think of this as important in your journey of weight loss, these are two of the many vital skills to get through life. Whether you are the climber or the beelayer (the person who holds the rope) you need to communicate well with each other so that you can ensure that you both feel comfortable and happy with the situation. It is impossible to climb with someone who you don't trust, and communication is vital to gain trust. In just my first session I learnt how important it is to listen and respond to each other's needs during climbing and I felt totally safe at all times.
4 Increased flexibility
Although it may not appear as obvious as yoga for something that improves your flexibility, climbing is fantastic for this. No wall (or rock if you choose to go outdoors) ever has a straight path from the bottom to the top. There are times when you have to stretch to reach your foot or hand to the next hold and this can often be a further stretch than you are perhaps comfortable with, which gradually increases your flexibility. Unlike yoga though, because you are focussing so hard on holding on and getting your hands and feet in the right places you aren't often aware of the fact that you are gradually becoming more flexible.
3 Improved cardiovascular health
Although rock climbing may not appear to be a typical aerobic workout, it definitely does get your heart pumping (particularly if you have the element of fear thrown in like I did). It's well known that the increase in rhythm that your heart endures during a workout improves cardiovascular health.
2 Increased muscle tone
Because you are using your entire body to pull yourself up the wall you are putting pressure on your muscles and therefore causing them to grow with each time you climb. Climbing is a fantastic full body workout which targets muscles in the arms, legs, chest and back. So you are having fun while building lean muscle, what more could you want?
1 Increased confidence
The first time I tried to climb the wall I let my fear of heights get the better of me and only managed about two metres (rubbish I know), but it made something inside me wake up and say I can do better than that. The second time I tried to climb I made it all the way to the top and touched the ceiling! By the end of that first session I was starting to try inclined walls! It gives you such a huge boost in confidence when you finish a session being able to achieve far more than you could at the start. I made the decision to push myself just as hard as I do during a Daily Hiit workout and it gave me the ability (both mentally and physically) to make it to the top, but even if you only improve your climb by one metre from the beginning to the end of the session you have still improved and achieved something. It's a tremendous confidence boost.
I have no doubt that some of you may disagree with my decision to put increased confidence higher than increased muscle tone, but I am a strong believer in building confidence in yourself. In my opinion there are far too many people who lack confidence, and this is something that is hard to build, so for me, anything that helps with this has to go at the top of my list.
I can't wait to get climbing again, and I strongly recommend it to all of you. Please obviously make sure that you get professional instruction from a qualified trainer first though.
Try it out, it's a great workout that leaves you feeling like you can conquer the world. Go for it.