What I love rock climbing so much is it is not just a physical exercise. You work on your mind as well.
Physically, I learn so much more about talking and listening to my body. I didn’t know I can use my body the way I’m after I got into climbing. You don’t just use your limbs; you engage other parts of your body as a team to achieve a movement you want. For example, when I was really fit, I can hang my whole body weight with my one finger. It sounds crazy but I don’t just use my finger. I use my abs, my back, a bunch of other muscle to positioning my body to minimize work on my finger.
Psychologically, you’re consistently playing with your mind. What I found is, most of the time, whether you are able to complete a route/climb is determined by your mind. When I first started climbing, my friend, Dave, always told me (which I didn’t understand at that time), “Jo, you have to be committed to do the climb. You are physically capable.” There’re lots of psyching up involve. Then, just go for it. After a while, you become strong in your mind and know how to manage the fear. It is all in your head.
Climbing, unlike a lot of other sports, it is a competition to you, not others. Every climb, you are stretching your own limit. You don’t need to compare/compete with others.
Climbing involves consistent decision making and problem solving, especially outdoor climbing – it could be a decision of your life. Every move you need to plan, and you need to make a best decision for yourself at that time regardless of whether it is not to kill yourself, to complete the route or to try things out. There’s also no one right way of tackling a problem. It is not like it is the only way to finish a problem/climb this way. Depending on the problem, your body shape, how fit you are and what you like, there could be hundreds of ways to solve a climbing problem. I love it.