Frugal Fitness: Rock Climbing

Last Sunday, I went rock climbing. And it was awesome.

I used to climb pretty regularly… until I didn't. I don't remember what made me stop, but it's been years since I've been on a wall, and I forgot how much fun it is. Somehow, I also forgot what a great workout it is, too, but I obviously remembered about a second and a half in.

Rock climbing works your forearms, biceps, shoulders, back, abs and legs. Combining cardio and strength, that's more or less your whole body, minus your fingers and toes. Wait, you use those to grip and balance on the tiny plastic rocks. Nevermind.

climbing wall grip.jpg

I've said before that the best exercise is the one you actually stick with. This isn’t my first rodeo with this Groupon-based workout plan:


I started with kickboxing, which predates my writing for Whatismyhealth. I was a pretty avid kickboxer for about eight months, but there’s a downside: The classes can be super repetitive, so it can be easy to lose interest. Still, kickboxing has a similar full-body benefit to rock climbing.

It’s also the kind of thing you can do at your own pace, depending on how you’re feeling that day. Exhausted beyond all belief? Kickboxing is still good for you at 65%. Ready to throw a tiger uppercut? Even better.

Tiger Uppercut

Tiger Uppercut



I originally found the idea of Crossfit pretty intimidating, which I guess was part of the appeal. I liked it a lot more than I thought I would, but the gym was too far away for it to really be “my thing.” It was close to my old job but nowhere near my apartment, and who’s commuting 40 minutes to do burpees? Not me.

CrossFit is a franchise and Groupon is disorganized. So theoretically, you can buy introductory offers until the end of time without even having to resort to inventing online identities and using burner email addresses.

The franchise factor gives every gym a different flavor, which is good and bad. Part 1 of my CrossFit experience offered high-intensity interval training classes and great instructors. Part 2 is much more of a traditional weightlifting-based CrossFit gym with… what I’ll call “less great” instructors. There’s only one coach at my current gym who I really like and find helpful and motivational. For me, with something like CrossFit, the instructor matters.


There was the personal challenge aspect, blah, blah, blah. The truth is, I really freaking hate running. So try to force myself as I may… the “But I don’t wannnaaaaa” factor is strong. Plus, the weather is cold by me now.

I’m thinking Sunday’s rock gym, which also has a regular gym and classes, will be my next “thing,” even though this particular gym isn’t on Groupon and I’ll have to pay full price. It’s close to my apartment, too, which always helps. If you’re looking for a deal, there are a bunch of rock climbing gyms that do have Groupon offers.

What I think is really cool about rock climbing is that it's engaging. Where exercises like running or lifting weights can be rote and repetitive, rock climbing requires you to use focus, be present and solve problems by default— unless you want to go crashing to the ground and break something (or, die, if you're actually doing this on real mountains).

But mostly, rock climbing is fun.

What exercises do you find most engaging?
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