Thursday, September 2, 2010

Rock Climbing

     I have mentioned it briefly in a previous post, and would like to give a bit more detail about one of my new hobbies; rock climbing.  A few months ago I starting to crave more out of my work-outs and was finding trips to the gym boring.  A good friend of mine suggested a trip to a huge indoor rock climbing gym in Brooklyn called Brooklyn Boulders.  We went, and I was hooked by the first day.  I attended the belaying coarse, and literally "learned the ropes".  The survival applications of learning how to properly belay became evident to me instantly.  Belaying teaches you how to work with rope and teaches a few basic knots.  It is excellent for people that are; afraid of heights, not agile, or those that do not have a lot of upper body strength.  It's safe for all, and I recommend you bring children, as they tend to have lots of fun and are naturally good at it.

     The second part of climbing in a place like Brooklyn Boulders is something called bouldering.  It can be a bit more challenging then belaying, but the rewards are great.  You don't use the ropes like you do in belaying to support you while climbing the wall.  Instead you "free climb" the route without any assistance.  The walls are not too high, about 15 feet in most spots, and if you fall, there are thick mats underneath to cushion your drop.  I find bouldering challenging and fun as you get excited about finally finishing lines that you previously found impossible.  Similar to a game of chess, you plot out the possible moves to climb up a route, then seeing if your body has the ability to perform the moves.  If consistent, you can build your strength and endurance up in a much different way your body is used to helping you to achieve completion of some of the harder grades.  

*Survivalist Alert* The strength you build in your hands and upper-body have important self-defense implications.  As anyone who practices martial arts will tell you, finger and hand strength can help in a fight for your life scenario.  Making the ability to debilitate your opponent with shots to the vitals, (eyes, neck, ears, groin) much more devastating.

     So if you are like me, and find your gym membership suffering, give climbing a try.  The rates are very reasonable, and the learning curve is not as steep as it seems (no pun intended).  After a few times, you can try your hand at some outdoor climbing as there are a few premiere climbing destinations not far from the city.  Places like The Gunks are considered some of the best climbing on the east coast.  While visiting The Gunks, you can check out some of the campgrounds for a weekend camping trip.  Below, I put a few items from Amazon I use for climbing.  Shop around, you can probably get better prices, and if you are looking to buy shoes, (You can rent them at Brooklyn Boulders if you were curious) make sure to try them on before you decide.  The people at EMS are very knowledgeable and can help you find the right pair.


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