There was a time when rock climbing centres were solely occupied by serious mountain climbers on rainy weekends. Now indoor climbing is the newest fitness trend, seen as a fun, social alternative to classic cardio workouts. Climbing centres are popping up across the capital and every week new climbing clubs are being formed. So what kind of climbing are people doing right now?
There are three key types of climbing:
- Bouldering – rope-free climbing at low heights over crash pads
- Top-rope climbing – climbing while harnessed to a rope which passes through a hook at the top of the wall and then down to a partner on the ground
- Lead climbing – climbing while progressively clipping yourself to the wall, with someone below giving out new rope
Bouldering seems to the style most people are using for a fun workout as it requires little equipment and is good for beginners and experts alike. But why exactly is bouldering so good for you?
There are three main benefits of climbing:
It combines cardio and strength
Upper body strength is key for climbing, you’ll work your shoulders, biceps and triceps while on the wall. Your back, core and leg muscles will all get exercised too as your technique improves and you learn to push through your legs. According to a study published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the cardio and energy use when rock climbing is the same as when you’re running at a speed of 8-11 minutes a mile.
It improves problem solving skills
Bouldering routes are actually known as ‘problems’, so it makes sense that your patience, planning and analytical skills are all put to the test when you’re on a wall. Concentration and problem-solving skills are needed to help you work out how to scale the wall, and over time you will be able to work out a path to the top before you even put your first step on the wall.
It reduces stress
Climbing has an element of risk involved, so taking to wall often allows climbers to become immersed in the activity, forgetting their worries and anxieties. Instead of stressing out, people’s focus shifts to reaching the next foothold and making sure they stay on the wall.
If you’d like to give climbing a try there are plenty of walls across London for you to try. If you’re in East London Mile End Climbing Wall has weekend classes for beginners, while The Castle in Stoke Newington offers indoor and outdoor climbing in a Grade-II listed building. For South Londoners Vauxwall offers lessons for both adults and kids at any level.