What kind of images goes through your mind when you think of climbing? For me, There are three images that popped into my mind. The first two common images would be a nice tone muscular body and a rock climber hanging or perhaps dangling with one or two arms off a rock. The third common image would be of a man climbing.
Generally, those are the three most common images perceived by the public. However, those elements of having a strong muscular body, risking your life, and being a man are not required to be a rock climber.
When we think of rock climbers we think that we must have a strong upper body with big muscles in order to climb. However, it is not quite necessary. I have seen men who can lift heavy weights with huge muscles and cannot climb a 5.10 route effectively and efficiently.
It is helpful to have upper body strength but sometimes it could be a hindrance if you don’t know how to climb. For rock climbing, it is not all about how big your muscles are. It is about how efficient and how effective you are by maximizing and strengthening what you have. I started climbing when I can barely do pull-ups. However, over time, not only can I climb effectively and efficiently, I am now able to do more than ten pull-ups.
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Guess what! Your legs, core, and good balance do most of the work at the beginning stage of climbing.
Rock climbing requires muscles from your legs, quads, back, core, as well as your arms. It stimulates your stabilizer muscles and works the muscles throughout your body that you have not used in a long time or ever before.
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Another thought about climbing is the image that you will be hanging off a cliff like this picture below:
Yes, climbing is a dangerous sport. However so are other sports such as football, soccer, gymnastics, etc. It is up to you to take your choice of sport to the level of your own comfort. You do not have to climb at the level as pictured above. Although, the picture looked epic. I don’t think I will be climbing like that any time soon. It is out of my level of comfort. The idea is to have fun, learn, and enjoy my time.
Rock climbing is a very conscious sport. We are continuously staying focus, being aware, and be in the moment in order to climb or belay another person especially outdoor. Because of the inherent risk of falling, there is always a backup system for every knot or anchor to support the climbers. We can not take risks lightly or someone can get hurt. Because of constant awareness, we generate a safe climbing environment where everyone can enjoy the experience.
Climbers are Men
Yes, we do see a lot of pictures of men climbing. Perhaps, it is the biased perception of our culture and the common missed perception that we need strong upper body muscles to rock climb. Therefore, many women are hesitant to try.
There is no doubt that men are stronger than women physically. I totally agree. However, rock climbing is not a biased sport. It is for everyone regardless of gender or age. That is what I love so much about climbing. It relies not only on strength but on mental ability and techniques such as balance, agility, and/or flexibility. Rock climbing is a well-rounded sport for physical and mental stimulation.
For me, climbing is so much fun that I am not even realizing it is a workout. The side effects are tone muscles. Don’t take my word for it. Try it for yourself.
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My Final Thoughts
Those images I shared above were my initial perceptions of rock climbing. I created an unobtainable sport for myself. It was something I would not consider trying until my son joined a rock climbing team. My perception changed over time as I learned more about the sport. I was open to giving it a try.
My only suggestion is to be open to possibilities. Create your own perceptions instead of allowing others or your own culture to dictate your outcome in life. Enjoy life to the fullest because you are living it for yourself and no one else.
What are your perceptions of rock climbing? I would love to hear it. Please feel free to leave me your comments or questions below.