Sometimes in winter it can be hard getting motivated to stay active or get outside, especially when it’s cold and there’s no snow to play in. I still get out to run on the trails and ride my mountain bike when I can, but with the short days and cold evenings I find myself looking for something else to keep me active. I could go to the pool, run on the treadmill, or maybe lift some weights, but in winter I like to switch it up just to keep life interesting. The one activity I like to do in the winter (although it’s certainly not exclusive to winter) is climbing indoors at the climbing gym.
I don’t do a lot of climbing throughout the year but I do enjoy it and it’s a great fun way to work-out indoors and meet some pretty cool people of all ages. In February this year I plan on heading up to Munising, Michigan for the Michigan Ice Festival with my friend Nate, so getting down to the climbing gym will help me brush up on my climbing skills and work all the muscles of the body that I’ll be using.
One thing about rock climbing is that it’s not only a fun and exciting past time but one of the best all round body workouts you can get. After an hour or two of climbing you’ll feel tightness in muscles you forgot you had and one’s you don’t normally use when walking, running or cycling. You’ll start to build the muscles in your arms from pulling through and the legs from pushing off from one hold to the next. Climbing is much more fun than doing endless reps with dumbells at the gym.
Climbing is also one of the best core workouts as it takes great core control and strength to balance and manoeuvre your body into positions to get to the next hold. If you have had a bad back and tried everything consider going to a climbing gym and doing some light climbing. Over time you will build up the stabilizing (core) muscles which protect the spine and relieve pain. It worked for me.
Another thing I like about climbing is that it doesn’t only work the muscles of the body but it also works the mind. Climbing is like problem solving which takes body control and a great deal of focus, much like yoga. I learn new techniques every time I go to the gym. At first glance you might think that you simply start climbing up the wall but every route takes a different strategy. Watch and learn from some of the more skilled climbers and you’ll start to understand, it’s like putting together a puzzle while working out.
Climbing is also a great way to improve on your flexibility. It’s important to warm up and stretch before you get started but you’ll find after a few sessions on the wall you’ll start improve on your flexibility. Many times you’ll be stretched out on the wall with fingers on a hold, contemplating the next move and you’ll feel the stretch in your muscles. Again this is similar to yoga such as when you get into a pose and hold it.
If you’re looking for a way to lose some weight then get down to climb! The combination of strength training and cardio (yes climbing requires stamina and endurance similar to cross-country running or skiing) is the perfect combination for burning calories. For an hour of climbing at the gym you can burn upward of 650 calories. You’ll notice that you don’t see many overweight climbers, and again it’s fun!!
So if you’re wanting to start that after-holiday plan to get healthy and start feeling good, yet dread the thought of staring at a blank wall while running on the treadmill, I’d recommend finding a climbing gym and give it a try. You’ll be surprised how much fun you’ll have and new friends you’ll make.
Climb Inside and find YOUR adventure!!