If scrambling over boulders, climbing walls, and reaching new heights is your idea of a good time, then rock climbing may be your next sport.  Rock climbing gyms, classes, and groups are springing up all over. Whether you live in the city or country, mountains or desert, you can be a part of this fun and growing trend.

Rock climbing is getting a lot of attention as the latest fitness craze, but it's actually been considered a sport for centuries. New and safer equipment and a renewed interest in the great outdoors mean more people are gearing up, joining climbing gyms and rediscovering the joy of rocks. Rock climbing is nothing short of adventurous, making it perfect for thrill seekers, extreme sports enthusiasts, and anyone looking for one heck of a total-body workout.

Why do people rock climb? 

  • It's fun and challenging. 
  • It offers a sense of community as climbers work together to create a safe experience and achieve their goal. 
  • Outdoor climbing offers a way to explore nature, enjoy fresh air and sunshine, and scale heights in a truly unique and hands-on adventure. 
  • It provides functional strength, cardio, balance, and flexibility training. 
  • It requires problem solving and high level concentration to puzzle out the best strategies for tackling a climbing route.

Where do you start?

Rock climbing beginners should learn the ropes at an indoor climbing gym or on a climbing wall with plenty of padding on the ground.  Safety is crucial with this sport as mistakes can cause critical injuries.  Find a certified rock-climbing instructor to teach you about basic equipment, holds, climbing techniques, and to provide safe back-up to prevent falls.  Classes are available at gyms all over the world. 

Instructors teach you how to inspect your gear, buckles, harnesses, and ropes and where to place your feet and hands on pre-determined holds.  You'll study the basics of top-roping (a rope is threaded through a pre-set anchor at the top of a climbing route, then attached to a climber's harness) and how to belay a climbing partner (by holding a rope and applying tension to prevent your partner from falling too far). 

Once you've mastered beginner's techniques, you're ready to join an outdoor climbing group.  There are a variety of climbing styles to explore in all kinds of natural settings, including bouldering, scrambling, mountain climbing, ice climbing and competitive climbing.  You can go as far as you want with this indoor-outdoor sport, but never go it alone.  Always climb with an experienced partner. The sense of accomplishment climbers feel when they reach the top is a major motivator, but serious climbers will tell you, "It's not the summit, it's the climb."