Indoor Rock Climbing for Fitness- It's Not Extreme Anymore

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Indoor Rock Climbing for Fitness- It's Not Extreme Anymore Powered By Docstoc
					Once an activity labeled as an "extreme sport", rock climbing has in the last few years
become a very popular workout activity as the use of indoor climbing walls in fitness
facilities, community centers and health clubs has increased and made the sport much
more user friendly. Not only can it be fun and exciting, rock climbing is one of the
most effective strength training workouts a person can ever have, providing fitness
and strength benefits that are difficult to match with any other single activity. If you
want to work out every muscle in your body in the shortest amount of time possible
and get quick results in strength, body shape, toning and muscular endurance, there is
no better thing to do. It burns a tremendous amount of calories as well, assisting with
weight or fat loss. And did I mention that it is fun? Participants sometimes have such
a blast that they even forget to feel tired! Around twenty years ago, the very first
climbing gyms started appearing around the United States. One of the first was The
Vertical Club in Seattle, Washington, and that is where I first took a lesson and
learned to climb. My experience walking in there in 1993 was TOTALLY different
than a new climber would have walking into the average climbing facility now. Back
then, climbing gyms were primarily the domain of serious rock climbers who needed
a way to stay in shape during the bad weather months or in between trips to outdoor
climbing locations. Climbing as a general fitness activity hadn't arrived yet.

When I entered the facility that day, I was first greeted by a man on crutches who told
me he had just broken his ankle in an outdoor climbing fall. He seemed pretty intense.
There were several men climbing near the front without shirts on, their bodies
seemingly made of nothing but muscle and sinew. One of them was attempting a
climbing move just a few feet off the ground right in front of his buddies, who stood
no more than arms reach from him, shouting him encouragement and prepared to
break his fall if he came off the wall. He was exerting himself fully while trying the
move, and I was struck by his effort, while all he had to do was literally put his foot
down and he would have been standing directly on the ground.

I felt somewhat intimidated by the atmosphere. The place was definitely filled with
people who climbed seriously, and at that time I was definitely someone who did not.
I was glad I was there to take an actual lesson because I would have absolutely no
idea how to start for myself. My teacher was the owner of the club, and he was very
friendly and helpful. It was almost like having my own personal trainer. By the end of
the 2 hour lesson I knew my way around the gym and the equipment and knew how to
belay another climber and tie myself into the rope for safety. And I had climbed from
the bottom of the walls to the top several times successfully. I was officially a climber,
albeit a very enthusiastic beginner.

In the present day, a first trip to a climbing facility for a beginner will be a completely
different experience. There are many more climbing gyms around, and like I
mentioned above, many fitness centers and health clubs have climbing walls now.
These climbing gyms and fitness center walls are used much more now by the average
fitness enthusiast who is looking for a fun way to workout or have some recreation,
and beginner classes abound. The look and feel of the facilities is usually very family
friendly. Birthday parties and social events for kids, corporate outing and team
building for adults as well as family recreation outings make up a huge percentage of
the business for climbing walls nowadays. A first time visitor will be greeted by an
enthusiastic staff wearing matching t-shirts and typically watch a safety video that
gives an overview of the procedures of the facility. Then in a small group or
individually, they are led out to attempt a few climbs before they are cleared to use the
place on their own. The extensive orientation I received at The Vertical Club is mostly
a thing of the past. The equipment and safety set up is much easier for the average
person to learn, which gets them climbing and having fun sooner. This has greatly
increased the number of people who participate in climbing and has led to the serious
climbers that I saw on my first trip to The Vertical Club frequently being the minority
in the gym at any given time.

Getting your exercise while climbing indoors usually involves you making your way
from the floor toward the ceiling of the facility using plastic holds for your hands and
feet that have the same look and feel as real rock. These are attached to a wall that is
textured to resemble a real cliff face. As you make your way to the top, a cable
attached to an automatic belay device or a rope attached to your partner and tied to
your safety harness that you wear keeps you safe from a fall. Most indoor facilities
have walls for roped climbing that go up to about 30 feet in height, though some in
the United States go from 60 to 90 feet. Most facilities also have a version of climbing
called bouldering where the climber is not roped but never climbs more than 10-15
feet off the ground, protecting against a fall with large gymnastics pads moved around
on the floor underneath. Snug fitting climbing shoes with specially made rubber soles
are worn for incredible grip against the footholds.

Indoor rock climbing requires exactly the same fitness and muscle strength and
enduranace demands as doing it outdoors. And the benefits are awesome! Unlike
traditional weight training which involves lifting weight in a controlled movement in
a gym or home setting, rock climbing is "strength training with a twist": you as the
climber are now the weight going up or down and rather than an arbitrary number of
repetitions to be performed to complete a set, the goal of climbing is to get to the top
of the wall. It doesn't matter how it is accomplished, either. Climbing doesn't have to
look pretty to be effective. The result is a change of focus away from the effort of
repetitions to the effort of working toward the immediately achievable goal of
reaching the top. This can result in a very empowering feeling of accomplishment for
the climber, because each trip up the wall holds a challenge that can be overcome and
a goal that is achieved. This is what has been known to be addicting and can lead you
to want to do more. And when you want to do more, you will keep doing it. And that
is the biggest secret for long term success in fitness: keep doing it! It is amazing what
consistency can accomplish.

				
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