Human beings are natural climbers (exhibit A: any toddler and a tree), so it’s no wonder more and more people are dipping their toes (or diving headfirst) into indoor and outdoor rock climbing.
Above being a full-body cardio and resistance workout, climbing – whether you’re in the gym or on a mountain – offers a few unique perks that make it easy to get hooked…
If there’s one thing climbers love more than climbing, it’s getting other people to love climbing. That’s why you’ll probably get complete strangers cheering you on and offering advice (if you want it) when you first start out.
Almost all climbers share that same warmth and generosity, and there is such a wide and diverse range of people in the community that you’re bound to find some like-minded adventure buddies. Chances are you’ll make some lifelong friends along the way, too.
It’s no secret that South Africa has some pretty staggering mountain ranges, but you may not know that it’s widely considered to be one of the best climbing destinations in the world!
From Table Mountain, Montagu and the Cederberg in the Western Cape to the north’s fierce Drakensberg and world-famous Waterval Boven, there are so many stunning places right on our doorstep that are open for adventure.
Plus, in between outdoor missions, you can head to your local climbing gym to experience the same electric vibe as a lekker camping trip without all the mosquitoes.
While our bodies are made to climb, that doesn’t mean they don’t have to work for it. Getting yourself up a wall exercises your back, shoulders, arms, hands, legs, glutes, and everything in between. Moreover, climbing requires flexibility, balance, and some decent cardiovascular fitness.
That said, there’s no need to be intimidated – you can always choose and tweak the intensity of your session depending on what kind of climbing you do and what grades you pick. And even if you want to take it easy, you’ll still be giving your body a great big dose of the good stuff!
Along with being great for our bodies, climbing is an excellent way to keep your brain and mental health in check. First of all, it’s essentially a physical form of problem solving – that means your brain gets exercised along with your body as you figure out how to use the holds in front of you to get from point A at the bottom to point B at the top.
It can also get pretty scary, and teaches you to manage your fear, calculate risk, trust your instincts, and push through even when you really, really want to stop trying. Yoga pairs especially well with climbing due to the focus on bodily awareness and breath control – if you get it right and find your flow, you can reach an almost meditative state.
All of this, plus those tasty endorphins, means that climbing can make you feel pretty damn good – and don’t we all need a little bit more of that?
Over and above everything else, climbing is just hella FUN. There are always new challenges to overcome and infinite ways to shake up your routine, plus plenty of time is spent having a good laugh with mates in the mountains or on the gym mats.
So, whether you’re looking for your new favourite sport, or you just want to try something different, visit your local climbing gym to find out what it’s all about, and thank yourself later.
CityROCK runs the country’s biggest climbing gyms, with branches in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and one opening in Pretoria soon. Besides offering bouldering, top-rope, auto-belay and lead climbing, each CityROCK gym also has a fully equipped fitness gym and yoga and Pilates studio, plus a specialist outdoor gear store and in-house eatery. You can choose to grab a day pass for a once-off session or sign up for a monthly membership. If you’ve never climbed before, you can book a once-off introduction course to learn the ropes.
Visit www.cityrock.co.za to find out more and get climbing!