People have an affinity for climbing. I used to climb an endless amount of trees as a kid. But it doesn’t go away when you grow up. Bouldering is my challenge for this year’s Women’s Health #WHGetsFit winter fitness challenge, and I’m loving it.
Climbing has only just been added to the list of Olympic sports. It’s also been previously male-dominated, like most sports. But all of this is changing. Why? Because women are kicking ass, including my bud and trainer, Tiffany Wells from Bloc11 Bouldering Gym.
Sop, who’s Tiffany Wells
Tiffany started climbing when she was 15. Her cousin invited her to their climbing gym in Joburg and something just clicked. “When I got there, literally it was just fun. It was something to do on the weekend with my dad – we could go there and go climbing,” she says. But it quickly became something more. “[Climbing] soon developed into something I did every week and then I got a job [at the gym] working as a casual staff member and it slowly grew from there to the stage where I got to compete.” In 2011, Tiffany represented SA at the Youth World Cup.
Here’s the thing. Tiff is even smaller than I am. And she climbs the most technical routes while making them look easy. So it just goes to show – you don’t have to be tall or insanely ripped (although she is #bodygoals). For us girls, it’s all about technique, creativity and balance. Here’s why you should give bouldering a try…
Get on the wall
Reason 1: You’ll have fun. No seriously, it’s the most fun you’ll have at a gym ever! I mean we’re talking group get-togethers, family outings, even a date. “It fools you into working out,” says Tiffany. “So all you’re doing is focusing on the fun aspects of trying to climb and at the end of the day, you’ve done a full upper-body workout!”
Reason 2: You’ll be more mindful… About your body, that is. “There’s a huge psychological aspect to climbing,” says Tiffany. You’ll improve your awareness of space, where your limbs are: feet, toes, fingers, everything. Response time, this one’s a biggy on the improvement front. What’s more, you will also become aware of what muscles are working for which move.
Reason 3: You’ll chisel your upper body. Well no, duh. But for reals, the upper-body gains are on a whole other level. Climbing relies on those upper limbs and you can’t get too strong. “I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t upper-body orientated,” Tiffany says. Trust me, you’ll be feeling it in muscles you didn’t even know you had. There’s no one way to get up a wall and everyone climbs slightly differently so depending on your approach and route, you can work out a dozen different muscles.
Reason 4: You’ll get creative. Got weak guns? Repeat after us: it. Doesn’t. Matter. “When it comes down to climbing hard and climbing really well, strength can only get you so far – then it’s all about technique and balance to get you through. That’s where women start to show an advantage,” Tiffany adds. It’s all about flexible hips (thanks, yoga) and powerful quads (hello squats) to get you to the top. “In the beginning stages, women naturally have less upper-body strength and they can’t just rely on pulling themselves up a wall. I think this forces them to use technique and balance to get up,” Tiffany concludes.
If you haven’t tried out Bouldering yet, get to Bloc11 pronto. There’s a free beginner class every Saturday at 10am.