The Sport of Climbing: What You Need to Know


In 2009, there was just more than ten wall climbing gyms in America. By 2017, the number of climbing gyms reached 43. In 2018, the indoor wall climbing industry in the U.S. recorded a revenue of $638 million, with businesses numbering just below 500. The estimate is that there are more than 7.7 million practitioners (2016) of the sport. At the 32nd Olympic Games in Tokyo come 2020, the sport of climbing will be introduced as a medal event.

The number of walls or rock-climbing athletes is indeed growing, and so is the business that allows these athletes to train for competition. But how does one get into this sport? Would a beginner need to spend much on gears like purchasing bulk paracords, carabiner clips, or special shoes?

Understanding the Sport and Its Benefits

The sport isn’t just for adrenaline junkies or those with a strong upper body. The development of the latest safety equipment and structured learning has broadened the appeal of the sports from casual enthusiasts to serious athletes from other disciplines. When the emphasis is placed on technique and balance, girls and women became active practitioners also.

Expert practitioners claim that there are physical, mental, and social benefits to climbing. Climbing is a total body workout and develops your core, upper body, and lower body. It is more about developing lean but strong muscles. Mentally, it helps your decision making, visualization, planning, and goal-setting capabilities. Socially, you can do it with friends. While it is an individual sport, you also work with a team, including a belayer.


Getting Started

Do your research first and find out as much as you can about climbing. For one, you will need to choose between doing it indoors vs. outdoors.

  1. Motivation. Before you take the plunge, reflect carefully on why you want to engage in this sport or what your main goals will be. Do you want to stand atop a mountain summit, raise your hand, and bask in your conquest? Is it more about physically getting healthy?
  2. Budget. If done regularly, this might not be a cheap sport. Scout for the best prices for climbing gyms. Using the gym can cost anywhere between $6 to $30 per day.
  3. Mentorship. You might have the physicality, but you need to learn the proper technique, the effective use of your legs, and balance. You can’t learn any of these things without a mentor. Find a mentor near your community.
  4. Climbing bucket list. If you want to conquer the outdoor, you might want to create a list of the places you want to climb. Alternatively, you can set the number of times you would want to do indoor climbing in a week. These goals should help fuel your motivation.
  5. Continuous training. You need to continuously work at your body parts, even when you’re not climbing. Develop your core by doing the relevant exercises. Remember that climbing is about having lean and strong muscles. Don’t grow a six-pack; develop a strong lower front core instead. Your lower back area should also be strong for greater stability and managing tension.

Your conquest might not be similar to Alain Robert, but if you remain committed enough to the sport, you would reap the benefits. These pointers will set you in the right direction.

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