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Harness into Physical Activity with Indoor Rock Climbing

October 22, 2015 by Normand Richard, Certified Exercise Physiologist

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It’s no secret that fall is here and winter is nearing. To prevent the winter blues and stay motivated, I always do physical activities I enjoy, which includes indoor rock climbing.

This sport focuses on muscular endurance, it gives you an adrenaline rush, you stay out of the rain and snow, and since you need a partner, it’s also a social activity!

How to get started:

  • You can rock climb at dedicated climbing gyms or at some recreation centers and universities. Here’s a province-wide list of climbing gyms.
  • Choose a facility with qualified instructors who prioritize safety.

On your first visit:

  • Wear loose fitting pants or shorts and a shirt.
  • You can get by with runners but rock climbing shoes are better. Their rubbery soles stick to the wall and pointy toes are advantageous for getting your foot on the small holds (a hold is a plastic shaped “rock” or holding point on the climbing wall). Check with the climbing gym to see about shoes that you can borrow or rent; bring socks!
  • You’ll have to take a short lesson on how to belay (how to properly tension and hold the safety rope while your partner is climbing) and put on your harness correctly.

Tips for climbing: If upper body strength is not your strong point, do not despair. Proper technique is actually more important.

  • Aim to support your weight with your legs most of the time.
  • Keep your body as close to the wall as possible.
  • Aim for three points of contact when possible (two legs and one arm or two arms and one leg) to keep from getting tired.
  • Plan ahead before you start climbing – look to the top of the wall and choose a target hold (the shaped grips you will use to grab or step on when climbing). Then work backwards to determine which holds you will use along the way to get to your target.

Now that you’ve got the basics, you just have to go out and try it. The next rainy day, resist the urge to curl up with a blanket and hide. Call up a few friends and head out to the climbing gym to “hang”-out!


Related blogs

Hiking: Your Route to Adventure and Health
Workout Smart: Muscle and Strength

Recommended resources

Mountain Equipment Coop: Gym Climbing
Falcon Guides: Learning to Climb Indoors (book)

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