Climbing: A Physical and Mental Workout
If you enjoy being outdoors, working out, or solving technical problems, rock climbing is the sport for you.
The physical, mental, and psychological benefits received from rock climbing include increased self confidence, a lower body mass index, stronger muscles, and the ability to say, “I just climbed the side of a mountain!” which automatically raises your cool-level.
In 2011, the Journal of Human Kinetics published a review that showed climbers as having lower body mass indexes and lower body fat percentages. That’s easy to believe, seeing as a 155-pound person burns about 818 calories hourly while climbing.
Rock climbing can look daunting at first. Those who have never climbed are often frightened by the heights climbers soar to, which sometimes exceed 100 feet off the ground.
But be assured – expert rock climbers have been honing the sport since the 1950s. An array of safety measures and climbing devices have been developed to make rock climbing as safe as possible.
Types Of Climbing
Virginia Sikes has been climbing for four years now. She explained there are many different types of climbing, including lead climbing, trad climbing, top roping, and bouldering. The most common forms of climbing are top roping and bouldering.
“Top roping is a two-person system where you’re hooked into the same rope. The rope goes around an anchor at the top of the climbing route, with the person who is climbing hooked into one end and the person belaying on the other end,” Sikes said.
Belaying is when you support your partner’s body weight with a system of ropes so they can climb without falling.
Bouldering is a form of climbing that involves shorter climbs with more technical routes.
“Bouldering has no ropes involved,” she said. “It’s basically just climbing shorter routes with pads underneath you in case you fall.”
If you have never climbed before, visiting an indoor rock climbing gym can be a great way to dip your toes in the water.
Local Climbing Gyms
There are three climbing gyms in the Oklahoma City metro area, which include Climb Up Norman, Climb Up OKC, and Threshold Climbing and Fitness.
Threshold opened in late April 2017. It’s a 20,000 square foot gym with dozens of top-rope routes and bouldering problems.
Christa Ball, program coordinator at Threshold, was 19 when she first started climbing.
“I’m really glad I started climbing when I did. I made a lot of friends. I also love being outside, so climbing gave me another way to enjoy the outdoors,” she said. “Climbing is great mentally, too, because you have to figure out a problem when you climb a route. It’s like a physical puzzle. It feels amazing to finally finish a route after trying to solve it.”
If you’re afraid of heights, Ball says to “start with bouldering”.
“Bouldering is a lot closer to the ground,” she said. “You’re still going to get a workout and you’re still going to be climbing, but you won’t have the additional fear of heights to stop you.”
The Climbing Community
The rock climbing community is full of friendly and supportive people.
“The best part about climbing has been the friends I’ve met. When you start doing things you love, you find other people who love the same things too. There’s an instant connection there,” Ball said. “I actually met one of my best friends at a climbing gym.”
Keith Oler, who works at Climb Up, feels the same.
“The climbing community is an awesome group of people to become friends with. It’s a great way to build up your social circle, especially for college students coming to a university without a lot of friends,” Oler said. “You’re able to find a new group and meet other people who are usually really nice, kind, and open people.”
Becoming involved in rock climbing often leads to becoming entrenched. The friendliness of the community, the joy of finishing a challenging route, and the physical and health benefits you receive all combine to form a whole new lifestyle.
Sikes has words of encouragement for those thinking about climbing for the first time. “I’ve seen a lot of people overcome their fears through climbing, and it’s been great to be a part of that,” she said.
“The encouragement and support you’ll find in the climbing community is amazing.”
If you decide to climb at Threshold or either of the Climb Up gyms, make sure to mention you’re a student. Both have discounted membership and day-pass rates for students.
Threshold, Climb Up Norman, and Climb Up OKC are all open seven days a week. You can take a class, rent climbing gear, and learn how to climb all in one day.
“Don’t be afraid to try it; come climb with us!” Ball says.