The few, the proud, the rock climbers. How climbing can make you a better person.

What if you could have a ton of fun, make new friends, live a life of passion and adventure, and all the while improve both your physical and mental abilities? No, I’m not suggesting joining the Marines (although, if you are so inclined, please do. America always needs and appreciates good soldiers). I’m talking about one of the fastest-growing sports in America and around the world: Indoor Rock Climbing; and it is now available right here in Wichita Kansas at Bliss Bouldering and Climbing Complex.

I know though. You’re thinking: ‘well there are tons of different activities that I can participate in, what makes climbing so unique?’

That, my friend, is a very good question.

OK, obviously the fun part is pretty easy. I mean, what ISN’T thrilling about climbing a 40 foot wall while tied into a rope to catch your fall in a bright, colorful, climate-controlled gym with your favorite music playing in the background. Sure, it’s kinda scary and even carries a potential risk of injury with it, but that just adds to the excitement and fun. Few things will bring a smile to your face like looking your fears in the eye and having succeeded. Oh, and don’t worry about your present physical fitness. Routes are set by professional route setters and are graded from beginner to advanced, so you can almost always find something suited for your skill level.

Another advantage with all the different grades of routes is that you and your friends don’t all need to have the same skill level. Have you ever tried to play tennis with someone who is a lot better than you? Not much fun is it? Either they annihilate you, or they patronize you by playing down to your level.

But in a climbing gym, I can work as hard as I need to on my easier route and then my friend can push the limits on her super hard route, while both of us are having a great time. Plus, climbing requires a good amount of effort, which means that a large percentage of the time, I are more than happy to rest up and watch my friends go for it. This leads to some great social time: laughing, encouraging, sharing victories, explaining unique technique and movement with each other (we call this ‘Beta’), and maybe even a bit of trash talking. Climbers are some of the funnest people to hang out with, because we are all pursuing the same thing: trying to figure out how to get up that latest route. And when you add the trust factor of having your partner literally hold your life in their hands with the rope, friendships made climbing can last a lifetime.

There are also very few activities that will make you feel as alive and excited about life as climbing will. New climbers

very quickly develop strength and skill that allows them to try progressively harder challenges. Now I need to warn you here, this can lead to some rather serious addictions with the sport. But then, that is what passion and adventure are all about, isn’t it? And since you can always find a different or harder route, there is always a new adventure. Even more so, this attitude of exploration and discovery tends to bleed over to other areas of your life. Soon, those ‘mountains’ that seemed impossible in the past are suddenly seen in a new, more optimistic, light.

It’s pretty easy and obvious to imagine how rock climbing will help you physically.  The need to engage upper body strength with core control, balance, and coordination makes for a perfect total body workout. Recently however, numerous studies have also begun to unpack some of the mental benefits of climbing. A study published in Adaptive Physical Activity Quarterly in 2009found that six weeks of indoor rock climbing improved perceptions of self-worth and self-adequacy in children with special needs. Researchers at the University Hospital in Erlangen, Germany discovered that an eight week ‘prescription’ of rock climbing weekly improved depression scores in test subjects, and just last year, a study conducted by the University of North Florida suggested that skills used in rock climbing improved working memory (or the active processing of information such as would be used to problem solve or complete a school assignment) after just a few hours of participation!

So what does this all mean for you?  Well, the simple answer is that rock climbing is just awesome.  It’s fun, adventurous, social, and good for both your body and your mind.  Of course you don’t need to take my word for it.  Stop by Bliss Bouldering and Climbing Complex right here in the flatlands of Wichita Kansas and try it for yourself.  


Climb Hard and Follow Your Bliss,


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