I tried an indoor bouldering gym this week in my hometown of Norfolk, Va. @latitudeclimbing. For those of you that don’t know the difference between bouldering vs rock climbing, bouldering is rock climbing without the ropes and harnesses to break your fall. Lucky for me, there were soft bouncy mats below, otherwise known as bouldering crash pads. Named appropriately in my opinion!
I climbed until my shirt was dripping wet, my palms were raw and my forearms gave out. Mind you, being my first time attempting this activity it didn’t take long for all of this to happen. I’m a pretty fit guy but as in any athlete crossing over to another sport, you use muscles that you don’t normally engage in your regular workout regime. This is partly why I decided to try it out. The other part is that my good friend Yogi Dave had been trying it for over a month and convinced me to join him one afternoon.
I truly believe cross training is vital to developing your body into a total fitness machine, as long as it matches the intensity levels of your other modes of training. Knowing your training zone really helps with this! Cross training will also help distribute physical stress applied in regular programming to other parts of your body or at least require more effort from muscles that you don’t normally use. Cross training also reduces cases of injury due to overuse which can lead to chronic injuries.
Is bouldering a good workout? I’d say yes!
The courses are labelled V0 to V12, indicating their bouldering grades. Being a firm believer of progressive resistance, naturally I started with V0. Just as a warm-up, so I thought! By the end of my session, session being based on fatigue and not schedule time, I made it ALL the way to V2 courses! Now you can start to understand the degree of difficulty that the lower V courses posses. Don’t be discouraged! There are enough V0 courses for you to get a challenging workout and not be bored. FYI, use the climbing chalk that they provide for you! You may not appreciate the mess initially but when you start perspiring and fatiguing you will find the value in the white chalky mess.
In order for a climb to count as completed you must place two hands on the last rock, handle, piece or whatever you want to call it. I do not know the proper term. Might as well call it the “honor system”. As in the video you may have thought I made it to the end of the course, but if you look very closely you’ll notice that both of my hands did not make it onto the last piece. Next time I go to @latitudeclimbing i’ll ask if it has a specific name.
Beginning a course can be tricky as well! Depending on how many degree of difficulty labels there are at the beginning of the course, would determine whether you start with one hand on each labelled rock or two hands on one rock.
My bouldering tips for footwear! In case you do decide to try this out, bouldering shoes fit really tight! I went up 2 sizes from my regular street shoes. They told me they’re suppose to fit tight, but I was walking on my toe nails because my toes where curled back so far! Shoes should always feel comfortable, but if you figure out they need to be more snug you can always go back to the front desk clerk and request a smaller size. Vice versa even.
Fitness comes in many facets, I definitely was not fit by Bouldering standards, but I did enjoy every challenge of this new experience. I’d suggest trying it if you think it’s even remotely within your athletic capacity, because you never know!
After you’ve experienced bouldering, I would suggest watching a couple bouldering movies to help give you a better perspective on this activity! I say AFTER you’ve tried it because it made me appreciate the skill, patience, perseverance and flat out mental strength possessed by the athletes that have taken bouldering to the highest level and turned it into a sport. I recommend watching The Dawn Wall & Free Solo.
I definitely plan on getting a membership to a rock or bouldering gym in the future, but for me being indoors is for the fall and winter months so i’ll save it for then. For now I will design a rock climbing/bouldering training program with the intention of graduating from V2 to V3 courses and beyond!
Find fun in your fitness!