Fall is here- soon to be winter, and if you’re a cold-hating northerner like me, you might be looking for interesting ways to stay out of the cold while staying active! The gym is great, but now and then I like to find other physical activities to do on weekends. Two activities I tried recently were rock climbing Tai Chi. What could they possibly have in common?
Rock climbing has always been on my bucket list. A few friends were kind enough to take me to a local climbing gym called Earth Treks. They showed me how to don a harness, tie a complicated-looking knot and safety knot, and how to use basic climbing techniques.
First we tried top roping, in which you’re strapped in to the harness, and someone acts as the belayer- the person standing on the ground holding the rope. When you get to the top, they lower you down (I had too much fun jumping like a kangaroo on my way down). There are different difficulty levels for climbing walls, ranging from super easy to super difficult. We started off with some of the novice walls, then skipped a few levels to try something harder.
Rock climbing is great exercise because you employ both upper and lower body strength- activating your arms, core muscles, and legs. It also takes some technique- such as keeping your arms straight while gripping rocks, only bending them when you need to pull yourself up (saves a ton of energy).
Bouldering, or climbing without a harness, is much more difficult and takes a lot of practice to master. People made it look so easy, but I attempted a level 1 wall and couldn’t even make it to the top! I tried a few other walls, and was ecstatic to eventually complete a level 2 wall. It was amazing watching avid rock climbers work their magic, and many of them had great lean muscle definition.
If you’ve never been, I highly recommend trying it! Especially if you have a fear of heights- what better way to conquer your fear than getting out of your comfort zone?
I visited my friend Nick a while back, and he taught me some Tai Chi basics. Nick has been practicing the art for 13 years, making it his daily routine in the morning before he heads to work. (To see him in action, check out his Instagram @tai_chi_change)
I never knew much about Tai Chi. I thought it was just some Asian-originated martial art that had to do with moving super slowly and meditating. In reality, it’s much more than that!
Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese art with many different styles. You can practice alone, or with others. It trains mental focus, fluidity, and becoming hyperaware of every part of your body. There’s actually some science behind it. We practiced the basic stance, and some simple drills. It was pretty calming, and an interesting learning experience.
Physical rewards of practicing Tai Chi include flexibility, power, core stability, and softness. It won’t give you the look of a bodybuilder, but it certainly has health benefits! It’s also mentally rewarding because it helps you develop calmness, relaxation, positivity, and perseverance as you learn to master increasingly difficult moves.
What Do They Have in Common?
So how in the world are these two very different activities, actually similar? If you haven’t already guessed it, both require balance! In rock climbing (especially bouldering), you need to learn how to balance your footing to avoid slipping, and how to shift your weight to get to the next rock. In Tai Chi, balance is always necessary, especially when sparring and trying to throw off someone else’s center of balance. It teaches you to read a person’s body position, and it’s amazing how a simple push that doesn’t require much momentum can send someone flying several feet!
Both activities are great ways to improve your balance while having fun and staying fit! Try them out and let me know what you think- Leave a comment!