I’ve recently re-discovered rock climbing, and it’s brought a whole new dimension to my fitness. For some context, I went through a phase of climbing quite a lot back when I was about 18- I was dating my climbing partner, which helped. Recently I’d been really missing it as a sport! It has a wholly different focus to running, being based in strength, balance and agility; and the upper body strength required means it’s a nice little antidote to all those hours spent pounding the pavement.
I headed over to The Arches in Bermondsey after a lazy brunch with bestie Josh. As soon as I walked in, the buzzing atmosphere reminded me of how much I’d loved climbing back then, and how I hoped I would still love it now. We signed in and hired shoes (ew. note to self: find your old climbing shoes), before locking our kit up and heading straight to the wall.
For anyone who isn’t familiar, bouldering is a form of climbing that takes place at lower heights but without ropes. You typically have a thick mat beneath you (if you’re outdoors) or a padded floor (when indoors). It’s great for getting the heart rate up, and requires a lot more thinking than you might expect, as well as strength.
I was nervous at first, and so I started on easier routes, before getting my confidence back and trying more complex ones. It definitely took a toll on my wrists and lower arms, but I found it incredibly satisfying to complete a route after struggling with it for two or three turns. Given where I was at with my running (injured, no running allowed), it was nice to have some small wins.
Sadly, I wasn’t able to climb for as long as I’d hoped- climbing is quite calf-intensive, after all- and so I did some core and upper body work whilst Josh finished up for the day. We rounded off the day with a cup of coffee made by the baristas at the wall, and tootled off home with a sense of accomplishment. I’ve been back since, and it’s been an equally great experience both times.
I think it’s so important to be a rounded athlete, especially when, like me, you get injured frequently from running. Not only does diversifying into another sport reduce the risk of injury from repetitive movements like running, but they also give you something to focus on when you can’t run. My point is: climbing was just what I needed on that day!
I would highly recommend The Arches for a friendly, open and convenient climbing experience in London. Give it a go!
What’s another form of fitness I should try?
Lots of love,