Climbing Your Way to Better Health

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Shoes: Check. Rock climbing wall: Check. Harness: ….

Hats off to you if you noticed something’s missing from this picture. We recently checked out Off Belay Rock Club in Lincoln Park and true to it’s name, this place does it all without harnesses and ropes. Don’t worry, the wall isn’t that high and the floor is pretty soft, expert climber Ethan Kenvarg assures us. This particular gym is a bouldering one. Ethan compares it to a sprint rather than a marathon.

“Rock climbing is a really good strength building exercise but in addition to that, it’s really great for balance,” he says. “It’s a lot about coordination, a lot about flexibility, and a lot about thinking outside the box.”

Before we hit the wall, we learned the basics. Those “rocks” you see on the wall are actually called “holes” and it turns out there are a few types.

  • Jugs are the bigger holds that are easy to grab onto
  • Slopers are a little trickier since they lack an edge for you to grab onto
  • Crimps are those little guys you see on the wall – they don’t offer much to hold onto and are most commonly used as footholds

Most walls are marked with pieces of different colored tape. These indicated different routes you can take or you can simply make up your own.

“It’s not about who’s the toughest, strongest guy in the gym but who can figure it out,” Ethan says.

Above all, safety first. Always make sure you have someone to spot you in case you fall.

Off Belay Rock Club is located at 1907 N. Mendell St. #4C and can be reached at 773.358.2818.

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