Indoor Rock Climbing is the Beginner-Friendly Sport You Should Try This Winter
Midwesterners with January exercise goals have a distinct disadvantage—the weather. If stationary bikes and bicep curls don't excite, consider indoor climbing. The sport is unexpectedly beginner-friendly and provides a truly holistic workout. Scaling a wall builds physical strength, mobility and flexibility. It also stimulates and focuses the mind through problem-solving: When you're deciding which ledge or foothold to grab next, you can't think about anything else.
That's why stress subsides as you persevere through a route, says Peter Stancato, founder of the nonprofit Nosotros Rock Climbing Gym in Cleveland. After trying climbing at a pre-wedding gathering, he opened Nosotros as a welcoming space where strangers can become community.
"We love how climbing is deeply relational," Stancato says. Don climbing shoes (most gyms rent them) and join a beginner's class, then try substituting climbing for one or two workouts each week.
3 Tips for New Climbers
Bring pals the first time, and plan to make new ones on the wall. Climbers like to help beginners get a grip on things, and chatting adds to the enjoyment.
Climbing puts your body in unnatural positions—and high up! Prevent panic by focusing on what's in front of you and the physical sensations you're feeling.
Every new climber feels physically challenged and a little self-conscious. Learning to remove the barriers you create for yourself is one of the rewards.