My friend and I had rock climbing experience, but speed climbing was our first priority, so we asked Tony Mansoorian, coach of the gym’s youth climbing team, for tips. He noted that while more traditional types of sport and outdoor climbing focus on deliberate arm movement and foot placement, being successful on the wall of speed requires more dynamic jumping and minimal thinking.
“Speed climbing is its own discipline,” said Mr. Mansoorian. “Climbing it like you’d climb a traditional climb makes it almost as difficult.”
After clipping in an auto-belle device, I tried to turn my brain off and on from hold to hold (as in) I’ve seen pros do) but each move required more muscular power and a leap of faith than I could bear. Several times, I barely grabbed the edge of the next catch and had to make my way through it. My forehead got wet with sweat. My heart rate increased. Every few moves, I had to pause to catch my breath. It took me about two minutes to reach the top, which is a far cry from the women’s world record of about seven seconds. But I was excited by the challenge and determined to get better.
A major benefit of weaving new activities into your exercise repertoire, said Martin Hager, a health psychologist at the University of California, Merced, is that it can Increase your motivation to workout. Novel experiences can spark the release of dopamine in the brain, he said, which in turn can lead to pleasure, satisfaction, and the desire to do them again.
Dr. Raglin said that the people you exercise with, such as at a climbing gym, can make you more committed to a particular workout. A sense of belonging can increase your self-esteem and strengthen your identity within that group of people, which in turn can help you develop and maintain a healthy habit. “Your reason for exercise is broader,” he continued, “from just fitness or skill-based things to, ‘These are my friends and I want to share this with my friends.'”
Still aching in my forearms and triceps a day after my speed-climbing effort, I stood barefoot on a wooden floor, staring into my husband’s eyes before kicking him on the stomach, Then blocking her return punch and punching back. We were practicing kumite, one of two karate disciplines, which were being included in the Olympic program for the first time. In Kumite, two people take punches and kicks, and score points when they strike specific locations on their opponent’s body. The other discipline, the kata, is a choreographed set of moves performed solo.