Body Buzz – Scaling The Heights
by Sasha Kanal
There’s never been a greater time to take up climbing and all its offshoot activities, such as bouldering and sport climbing.
Twenty years ago, climbing was categorised among the more daredevil and dangerous sporting activities in this country. Fast forward to 2018, the big increase in indoor climbing centres and climbing walls in sports venues across the UK have democratised the sport and to such an extent that people of all ages and abilities can have a go at some form of this wonderful activity.
Bouldering is the ropeless, harness-free climbing at low heights above safety mats. It’s a great way to get a taste of climbing but at your own pace and without all the gear associated with the original sport. Different ‘holds’ are dotted all over a climbing wall and you can plan a route up, down or across to traverse them using your hands and feet. It’s a great low impact workout for the entire body, as it utilizes many muscle groups. Abdominal and leg muscles are well used, as are those in your fingers, arms and shoulders.
Regular bouldering improves muscle strength, stamina and balance. Reaching and stretching up and across to the holds in the climbing wall can also improve your flexibility and agility the more you do it.
The old grey matter also gets a look in! Planning how you are going to traverse a certain route requires concentration, problem solving and analytical skills. The more you do it, the better you will get. I should know. I’ve been bouldering with my sons quite a few times now and it’s amazing how you improve even after one hour or your first session. Plus there’s a great feeling of achievement once you ascend or move across to a hold you’d previously thought unreachable. The self-confidence a child or adult can get from this cannot be understated. You can set as many or as little goals as you want and because the environment is fixed and stable, these goals can feel achievable. For this reason, bouldering has been proven to be greatly beneficial for children with dyspraxia or for those with physical and mental disabilities.
Although bouldering is technically an individual’s sport, partaking in a pair or a bigger group brings further positives. Helping someone work out how to traverse a route builds trust and bonding. Problem solving together is a great team-building exercise and its fun!
If you’re ready for another challenge then you may want to try sport climbing – which entails higher indoor walls dotted with holds and bolts to clip onto. Obviously this requires instruction and training. So for a taste of the sport, start off with bouldering initially and see where it takes you.
There are numerous climbing centres in Sussex now with bouldering walls and higher indoor rock walls aplenty, so get climbing!
CAUTION: If you are unsure of any new exercise regime please consult your GP before commencing.