Today I finished my 30 days rock-climbing challenge. Well, not rock-climbing — bouldering to be more technical. I squeezed 19 workouts within 30 days which was pretty intense considering that sometimes I hit the normal gym in the “rest” days.
I fell in love with this sport. And after 1 month I am buying my own shoes and staying for longer to get better at it. I am writing this post because I want you to share the beauty of rock-climbing and maybe inspire you to try it for yourself.
Here are some things that I learned.
Man, it’s hard.
When I saw little girls climbing the walls light and agile as lynxes I thought that a man with several years of experience in fitness will be able to keep up.
I was wrong.
Rock climbing is crazy hard because it requires endurance.
Once again I learned that it doesn’t matter how big your muscles are if they are not functional.
Bouldering became complimentary routine adding up to calisthenics and animal movements in my arsenal on the quest for learning how to control my body.
When you are hanging on the wall holding a boulder (artificial rock) with one hand your other hand rests. Then you change the hands. It teaches you to be very wise with your energy. If you climb to fast or hold the position that is too energy consuming you will burn out. Same is fair in our daily life, isn’t it?
I loved rock climbing because it teaches me resilience.
It’s a workout for the brain.
Most of the boulders are labeled with colored and numbered stickers that show you the path — so-called “puzzle”.
It is a kinetic puzzle indeed. Although the beginner’s courses are quite easy some of the more advanced puzzles require the use of the brain. You need to think. Sometimes you need to think hard enough that the thinking process is physically sensible. You can feel that your brain is “moving” in order to understand what exactly do you need to do with your body to move on.
Rock climbing is a sport of stoics.
It places you in the state of stable discomfort. When you reach your limit you can hear the voice in your head telling you: “Let go.” Resisting the voice, resisting the pain teaches me grit. Sometimes I spend more than an hour to solve a certain puzzle. The satisfaction that comes with it is indescribable.
It’s a workout for mindfulness.
You can’t rock-climb without being present. If you “fly away” you can make a mistake which in real life would cost your life. In the gym, some of the mistakes are still very unpleasant. I wrote a story about a girl in our gym that fell down from the wall. It wasn’t high but the landing was wrong so she broke the bone in her heel. Now she is getting a surgery.
In rock-climbing, you have to be in the state of presence all the time observing if you put your foot in a right position because sometimes the boulder is so small that you can easily slip. You need to always feel what is going on in your body, how long can you go before muscle failure, how much power do you need to channel in your fingers so that the grip would be strong enough not to fall without spending too much energy.
I love rock-climbing for the acute state of presence.
It’s a community.
When I do calisthenics or go to the gym I am often alone. I have no problem with that. I love solitude.
When I came to the rock-climbing gym for me it was unusual to see that all rock-climbers are like family. They support each other and clap when someone pulls off an especially complex move. They cheer up after failures and show genuine joy when you succeed. It is a forgotten feeling since my old street workout days when I used to work out with my team.
It feels good.😏
It’s something you can tell your friends.
When someone would ask you what sport do you do and you say: “I lift weights” everyone is like: “meh…”
When you say: “I rock-climb” there is a spark of interest. People ask questions.
Food for the ego! Nice! 😆
It’s a never-ending challenge.
I come back to the gym, I solve a puzzle that was impossible the day before. The progress is measurable and that’s the beauty of it. But most importantly, the horizon never gets closer instead I can see how the whole new world of what is human body capable of unfolds itself.
I watch Ejin, a slim and fragile 15 y.o. girl. She is rock-climbing for 5 years and her rock-climbing style leaves me speechless. Nothing in her appearance speaks for her immense strength, endurance and a tremendous control of her body. When she climbs there are no useless moves. She “climbs” with her brain.
She makes me feel miserable 😅
It’s an opportunity to give.
Ejin teaches me how to climb and I teach her English. Not only her, actually. After 1 month there are quite many enthusiasts including my coach. We climb and we rest and I use the rest time to give what I have to offer to these radiant, kind people around me — my rock-climbing fam.
Either you are at the beginning of your fitness journey and don’t know which sport to pick up or you are a fitness junkie looking for new ways to challenge yourself I suggest you pick up a 30-days rock-climbing challenge.
Chances are you will never be the same again.
Take a good care of yourself and be healthy!