Healthy Living in the North

Climbing to healthy goals

Jessica climbs a wall

Getting a great workout on the climbing wall.

Rock climbing always seemed like an inaccessible – and, honestly, scary – sport to me. It was something my husband always wanted to try, but I was pretty reluctant. But when the new climbing wall, OVERhang, opened in Prince George, I agreed to give it a try, appreciating that we’d be doing this in a controlled, safe environment with professionals there to teach us as we went (as opposed to heading to a random cliff and “winging it” as was my husband’s “half-joking” idea).

During our first visit, I still wasn’t convinced that I’d have the upper body strength to climb a wall, and the prospect of belaying my hubby as he climbed created visions of me messing up and him falling to the floor. But I was determined to give it a try. (Note, for those who don’t know: belaying is the climbing technique that the person at the bottom uses to keep the rope tight and steady. The rope is passed through the anchor system at the top and then attached to the climber’s harness.)

We took a short introductory course to learn the ropes (pun intended!). And wouldn’t you know it, I could climb a wall! It turned out you don’t have to be “ripped” – I found that it’s actually more about technique and focus. After visiting the climbing wall weekly for about six weeks, I noticed that my hands got stronger, I had more endurance, I could conquer more difficult routes up the walls, and most importantly, I had the confidence to try those harder routes.

Now, as we continue to push ourselves at the wall, not only are we enjoying a regular activity together, but we’re being social with other people at the gym (everyone I’ve met who “climb” are super friendly!) and we’ve found something that gets us out of the house and gets our bodies moving – without even having to deal with the winter weather! It really is a great workout – gets our hearts pumping and builds our functional fitness. It’s also good for the mind – planning a route up the wall is kind of like a puzzle for your brain – you have to really think about what holds to use and where to put your feet to make it to the top the easiest. It really is a full package activity!

Do you have an activity like this that you can enjoy in the winter? Do you have a climbing wall in your community? Let us know in the comments!

Jessica Quinn

About Jessica Quinn

Jessica Quinn is the regional manager of health promotion and community engagement for Northern Health, where she is actively involved in promoting the great work of NH staff to encourage healthy, well and active lifestyles. She also manages NH's social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc). When she's not working, Jessica stays active by exploring the beautiful outdoors around Prince George via kayak, hiking boots or snowshoes, and she has recently completed her master's degree in professional communications from Royal Roads University, with a focus on the use of social media in health care. (NH Blog Admin)