Climbing: The Perfect Outdoor Sport You Should Try!
Everyone in this picture is in their mid-thirties, but we don’t feel it. Not at all. Why is that? Because we climb. Climbing puts you out in nature, it forces you to think about your fitness, and it comes with an awesome community, just waiting to cheer you on. In this post I want to share with you a little about an up and coming outdoor sport: climbing.
How to Start an Outdoor Sport Like Climibng
You kind of just go for it. Like this weekend, I am going to go for my first cold water surf session. I have been out on the water for about 25 hours in total, so I am still not good at all! Lol. I am a bit nervous of the cold water, the logistics of gloves, and a hood, but I know that I just have to go for it. I want to be a descent surfer when I am 50, so I have to start now at 38. Time on task, as simple as that. If you are new to the idea of practicing an extreme sport, you probably are not sure where to start! Well, I have a suggestion. Climbing. Climbing was my first extreme sport love/hate relationship. As with all things that make us better, it challenges us first.
Reason #1: Accessibility. Climbing is accessible to all in 2020. One difficulty of picking up an extreme sport is location. Location, location, location. I drive 2 hours to surf and between 6 and 7 hours to snowboard. Driving is not my favorite part if this gig. But climbing, I have a world class climbing facility a mere 40 minutes away. In fact, if I drove 40 minutes in every direction, I could arrive at about 7 different climbing gyms. If I wanted to climb outside, there are 3 different crags all within 90 minutes. So, no matter where you live, there is at least going to be a climbing gym, and that gym is going to have a community of climbers.
Reason #2: Climb like a girl. Of the extreme sports that I practice, snowboarding, surfing, and climbing, climbing is my one true fitness check. Climbing is an overall extremely healthy activity for your body that will promote gains in strength and flexibility. The natural movement of climbing promotes utilizing a full range of motion of all joints (your hips, shoulders, elbows, ankles, spine, even your toes) to reach holds that are a fingertip away and as you bring your foot up high above your knee to reach a high foot. You will also enjoy a beautiful natural stretch through your entire body as you momentarily hang on holds between movements. Climbing utilizes flexibility, balance, and strength simultaneously, and it is a motion as natural as walking or running; our bodies are made for it. This combination of flexibility, balance, and strength we use to climb makes climbing a very graceful sport. In fact, the phrase climb like a girl is a compliment in the climbing community.
Reason #3: The Community. First, let me alleviate a concern you might have. You may be concerned that you will step in the climbing gym and feel like you have stepped into one of your old college bars where everyone is half your age, and a dude. Granted, most people you see in a climbing gym will be male, (That is why I write this blog! To get more women out there!) but they will not all be half our age. At every gym I ever frequented, there was a community of older climbers, lifers who are 40, 50, 60 years old. These people are engineers, doctors, teachers, professionals of all sorts, who climb. Weekend warriors. A lot of them are probably really strong but, do not be intimidated by them! The climbing community is kind, welcoming, and bonded with a love for the sport. In the gym, we all have something in common: we love to climb, we love to feel strong even though we don’t always feel strong, but we love to show up anyway. Plus, other women climbers always love when another woman is around to climb with!
Reason #4: You Will Experience Success from Day 1. I have a bit of experience trying to learn extreme sports. Snowboarding, surfing, and climbing; I wasn’t very young when I started any of them. Both surfing and snowboarding both yield little independent success on day 1. Quite the opposite actually! It is amazing how much fun you can have falling down and getting back up though! Anyway, with climbing, however, you will reach the top of a few climbs on your first day. Snowboarding and surfing both require learning a lot of balance and learning new muscle memory patterns, but climbing does not! Your body knows how to climb a wall right now, even though you have never done it. Even better than instant success, progress is guaranteed. Progressing in your climbing only depends on you getting stronger, which will happen automatically! If you climb once or twice a week, you will get better at it pretty fast!
There you have it! Just go for it! Call your local gym or visit their website. A lot of gyms have an option for purchase where a staff member will belay you on a few climbs so you can get your feet wet. Or, you can go a slightly more invested route, take an intro to climbing class. Personally, I would take the class, that way is an educational experience and you will leave with some basic climbing information, skills, more food for thought, and probably stoked to keep climbing. Both options will provide you with gear and will get you on the wall climbing.