Starting the Climbing Season on a Different Schedule in 2017
It seems that starting the climbing season this year is happening on a schedule that only Mother Nature knows! It’s a cliché in St. Louis – if there’s one thing you can count on around here , it’s that you can never count on the weather. Turns out, this is based on real science! St. Louis does actually have the most unpredictable weather of any large city in the country, and for cities of any significant size, Kansas City holds the record at #1!
This February this has certainly been the case here in the region recently, with more 70 degree or higher days than ever before, and March looks to be unseasonably warm too.
We talked before about the various types of rock climbers that are members at our three fitness centers in St. Louis. There is a good percentage of people who climb – year round – indoors, because they love the unique challenges and interesting workouts that rock climbing can offer to them, but who have no intention of taking their climbing outdoors.
We love hosting these climbers among us, and supporting their goals. There is no better type of workout than climbing to take you away from everything in the world; it grabs you attention and forces you to focus precisely on the here and now. Your brain literally does not have the opportunity to dwell on anything else that might be happening in your life, for the next 30 or 45 or 60 or however many minutes, all your thoughts are on what is occurring right there in front of you. There is no better description than to say: You’re in the zone. Not only does climbing give your brain this opportunity, there is simply no better total body workout than rock climbing either, period!
But we have a whole other subset of people that come to our Upper Limits Indoor Rock Climbing Gym in Chesterfield, Maryland Heights and Downtown St. Louis. These are the folks that take the sport outside when the weather permits. They use the gym during the winter months to stay sharp, practice their technique and keep their fitness level up where it needs to be for their upcoming climbs.
Now for very avid climbers, there truly is no beginning and end to the climbing season. There is always someplace further south, or elsewhere on the globe, where the weather is just fine for rock climbing when things get a bit too harsh in St. Louis.
Of course, being able to travel to where the climbing is good takes a number of things: the time and life circumstances to be able to do so, the money required for the travel, and numerous other things – such as having climbing friends who have this same ability.
For these folks, Upper Limits is the only real option they option they have during the colder months to continue doing what they love until the weather turns. And regardless of season, there will always be time when inclement weather will take away the option of climbing outdoors.
But in general, the climbing season that most people would recognize begins sometime here in March or early April, as the temperatures typically warm up. Again here in 2017 all bets are off–we may avoid a true winter of any substance this time around! Which means that climbing season has already started! Trips are being planned and weekend meet ups with climbing organizations and between informal climbing groups
That also means that climbers are getting their gear ready to go much earlier than they normal would, and a few trips to our Upper Limits Rock Climbing Pro Shop are happening a bit sooner than climbers had originally thought they would!
The Upper Limits’ Pro Shop is where you will find professional, quality rock climbing gear you may need for your climbing adventures- both indoor and outdoor. Two of our top brands are La Sportiva and Black Diamond, and many others. Here is a list of all of the various products we carry to help you along with your adventure:
Chalk bags and balls
Holds & hang boards
Slings, webbing, & cord
Water bottles & miscellaneous supplies
Books & guides
We hope that you’ll come see us for your climbing needs, and for expert advice on what gear is going to be best for you.
This is also a good opportunity to mention a few exercises that can help on your next outdoor (or indoor!) climb, and hiking the trail to the destination if that’s required too. These don’t even involve being on the wall itself, and use just your body weight too, so they can easily be done during your sessions here the gym.
And doing these while at Upper Limits is the best way to ensure they get done- you already have your gear on, and your mind is focused on your workout, so incorporating an additional 5 minutes at the end of a good session, or in between climbs, can work perfectly if you’d like to add them.
Full Body – Mountain Climber
What a great name! And a great exercise too. Starting on your hands and knees, bring the left foot forward directly under the chest while straightening the right leg. Keeping the hands on the ground and core tight, jump and switch legs. The left leg should now be extended behind the body with the right knee forward.
Legs – Lunge:
A classic, and for a reason. Stand with the hands on the hips and feet hip-width apart. Step your right leg forward and slowly lower body until left (back) knee is close to or touching the floor and bent at least 90 degrees. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side. Try stepping back into the lunge for a different variation.
Legs – Step-Up:
This may be self-explanatory, go to the edge of the riser from the walkway to the climbing surface. and bring the right foot up to the to the climbing floor and step up with using your right leg, then return using your right leg right to step down. For maximum effectiveness, use only your right leg for 12 or more reps (a bit past when you start to feel some real fatigue in your leg) Regardless of height in comparison to the length of your legs, you will find this number quickly. Switch to the left leg and do the same. This exercise is a proven way to work out the muscles that you need on the wall, and to hike to your destination in the first place!
Chest & Back – Standard Push Up:
An exercise that needs no explanation, along with the sit up (for your core) an exercise we have all done at some point. There is no more effective way to easily work out your chest and back. Keeping your hands shoulder width apart, coming down as far as you can, and tightening your core are all great reminders here though.
Core – Planks & Bicycle:
We just mentioned the venerable sit-up. And they once ruled as the way to tighter abs and a slimmer waistline, and “planks” applied merely flooring. Now planks — exercises in which you assume a position and hold it — are the gold standard for working your core, while classic sit-ups and crunches have fallen out of favor. Why the shift?
A couple of reasons. First, sit-ups are hard on your back — they push your curved spine against the floor and work your hip flexors, the muscles that run from the thighs to the lumbar vertebrae in the lower back. When the hip flexors are too strong or too tight, they tug on the lower spine, which can create lower back discomfort. Second, planks recruit a better balance of muscles on the front, sides, and back of the body during exercise than do sit-ups, which target just a few muscles. (Your core goes far beyond your abdominal muscles.)
Finally, activities of daily living and recreation, certainly of rock climbing specifically, call on your muscles to work together, not in isolation. Sit-ups or crunches strengthen just a few muscle groups. Through dynamic patterns of movement, a good core workout helps strengthen the entire set of core muscles you use every day.
The standard Plank in done in a push-up position, up on your toes and your forearms, and holding that position as long you can. There are also Side Planks and others you research. Another great way to strengthen your core is with the Bicycle. If you haven’t done them before, lie down with knees bent and hands behind the head. With the knees in toward the chest, bring the right elbow towards the left knee as the right leg straightens. Continue alternating sides, just like pedaling!
There are many other body weight exercises you can build into your workout here, and many can be done in just a few minutes, extending the effect of what is already the best workout – for body AND mind- that can do.
If there is a body weight exercise you are interested in adding to your routine, mention it to one of our staff members to double check that your exercise isn’t something that could be harmful to your body in some way, but the ones listed here some of the most time-tested that you’ll find, and their addition can help you as you prepare to go outside here for the outdoor climbing season.
While we talk about today’s serious climber, we also look forward to tomorrow’s rock climbing enthusiast, too! Often we find that youth who hit the walls a few times here quickly become very interested in coming back. You may help your child find their favorite sport – one that can last a lifetime, when you bring them to Upper Limits! There is just nothing that can compare to our sport, period.
And your child can talk with pride they made it to the top at one of the coolest birthday parties of all time on Monday morning at school! Climbing teaches both teamwork and putting your trust in others, and also fosters a sense of personal accomplishment when they reach the top, too! And with our well-experience and trained instructors, you won’t have to worry one bit about safety but also the opportunity for your child to reach the summit while they are here!
Not only a great indoor gym for birthday parties, but Upper Limits is also one of the best spots you will find for any type of youth event, group adventures, graduations, family reunions, scouting nights, and much more. Our brand new Wacky Walls section at our new Chesterfield location is one of the most unique party locations in all of St. Louis, with all types of kid-inspired themes. Reservations fill quickly at any time of the year, so contact us today to book your spot!
We hope you’ll stop by or one of area locations sometime soon, or visit us in Bloomington, IL. You can also call for more information, call our gym in Chesterfield at (636)735-3270, Maryland Heights at (314) 991-2516 or Downtown St. Louis at (314) 241-7625.