30 Oct 2017
1 min read
I am sure you know by now that I am a big advocate of occasionally changing your fitness routine and introducing your body to various sweat sessions. There are many options that are available for fitness enthusiasts these days, such as joining a new yoga class, heading outdoors for a solo hike or burning calories with recreational activities that you can participate in with your friends. This week, I am highlighting one such activity that is gaining rapid popularity: indoor wall climbing.
Indoor wall climbing
According to Niraj Karki, climber and manager of Nepal National Climbing Team and general manager of Astrek Climbing Wall, indoor wall climbing (or sport climbing) is a sport that has evolved from rock climbing into a climbing option that can be done in a much safer and more controlled environment.
Due to wall climbing’s increasing prominence in the world of sports, it has been recently added to the list of events at the Japan 2020 Olympics and has also gained enormous popularity here in Nepal, says Karki. “Nepal’s national team has also participated in various international competitions such as the IFSC (the FIFA of climbing) World Cups and Youth Cups in countries like France, Spain, China and Singapore,” says Karki.
Here are some of the numerous health benefits that you can reap from wall climbing.
- All that workout: A fantastic muscle-toning and endurance-building session is a guarantee with wall climbing. Moreover, it strengthens your upper body (as you use your arms to pull yourself up and hold) as well as your legs and your core (as it is essential to engage your core muscles to support your arms and legs). Not many know this, but the sport also provides a good cardio workout—it has been proven that climbing can get your heart rate up to the same level as with jogging.
You can expect to burn about 700 calories after an hour of climbing. In addition to this, more muscles mean greater metabolism and fat-burning during rest.
- Enhances mental abilities: Karki says that the act of climbing requires you to analyse your options—like where the next hold is and where should you place your foot to reach a higher hold—and this mental challenge improves both your problem-solving skills and concentration. Thinking on your feet (literally) goes a long way.
- Improves focus and stability: “Climbing is a little bit like yoga,” says Karki. “It provides a total body workout while enhancing your focus, since you have to put in quite some effort to concentrate and determine your next move, to make it to the top.” Furthermore, wall climbing is therapeutic and has been proven to reduce stress.
- Better mental health: Sweating has proven to be good for your mental health, as exercise releases the happy hormones known as endorphins. A successful climb provides more than that because of the aspirational element attached to it. Conquering the intimidating wall and making it to the top, the results of our efforts, are immediate, and the rush from the accomplishment keeps us motivated to do better in other spheres of our lives as well.
- Fun with friends: Sure you may have a gym buddy with whom you enjoy your usual workouts, but it is also equally important to spend time with your friends outside the gym. Earn your hangout meal calories by working up a sweat prior. Climbing is a social activity that will help you strengthen the bonds you share with your friends as you communicate and motivate each other to overcome the wall.
How to start
Wall climbing is not as easy as it looks, and some orientation is necessary before you embark on your very first climb. Here are some expert suggestions from Karki:
- If you are doubtful about your ability to climb, remind yourself that climbing is something we do every day—it’s much like climbing stairs. Wall climbing will be a tad tougher, but we are naturally attuned to climbing.
- Get the proper gear. It is imperative that you listen to your instructor’s advice and put on your gear properly.
- Do not be nervous. Most climbers tend to get nervous, especially when they cannot reach the next hold, which leads to their ‘falling off’ the wall. To avoid this, remember to take your time and set your own pace.
Where to start
One of the pioneers of indoor wall climbing in Nepal is Astrek Climbing Wall, which is located in Thamel. It is the centre for this sport in the country and has hosted various climbing competitions. The centre features both bouldering and the highest rope-climbing walls in Nepal.
The Pasang Lhamu Sports Climbing Centre, near Sankha Park, is one of the oldest centres for wall climbing in Kathmandu. There’s also the Initiative Outdoor Bouldering Wall in Jhamsikhel, Lalitpur.
(Next week, I check out Nepal’s first ever Synthetic Ice Skating Rink and tell you more about its health benefits)