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How you can build up your fitness by climbing and surfing

Climbing and surfing are two new Olympic sports that will give you an excellent workout. Here's how

Try some offbeat sports this year to boost your fitness.
Try some offbeat sports this year to boost your fitness. (Unsplash)

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With the Omicron wave of covid-19 finally on the wane, there are a few new sports that you ought to try your hand at to spice up your fitness routine. They can also add a new dimension to your active lifestyle. I have written earlier about the traditionally popular sports and how they help maintain fitness, so let’s talk about some slightly more offbeat activities that can ensure you lead an active lifestyle while having fun. These are both Olympic sports that I have had a go at this year, and I’ve loved playing them. The best part is that you can do them all right here in India. 

Climbing: Climbing became an Olympic sport at last year’s Tokyo Olympics. It’s a sport that’s been around in India for a while, but it has started gaining better traction recently with climbing gyms opening in the national capital region (NCR), Mumbai, Pune and Bengaluru. I gave it a go last week and I was surprised that something as simple as monkeying around climbing a wall by pulling yourself up while secured to a rope could be so interesting and, at the same time, be a proper physical workout. 

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I stuck to the easy top rope climbs and bouldering as this was my first attempt but even that was extremely challenging. It is not merely the act of pulling yourself up using your arms, back and legs but also a mental challenge. You don’t only climb but also need to figure out the best possible route to the top. You are constantly thinking what your next move ought to be and how best you could get to the next hold using both your arms and your legs. 

If you end up using your arms a lot more than your legs, you would definitely have veins popping in your forearms and biceps but it would also leave them fatigued. And once your forearms get tired, climbing becomes a lot more difficult. So, you want to problem solve your climb in such a way that you use both your arms and legs equally. Just an hour of climbing is enough to make anyone break sweat and burn a fair bit of calories. Working out is fun when one is climbing. 

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Surfing: There’s a good reason why almost everyone who surfs is in excellent physical shape. Surfing, another debutant Olympic sport at Tokyo, might seems like a skill more than a physical workout but that’s far from the truth. The first thing you need to do is to swim out with your board to the point break where the water starts gathering momentum and becomes a wave that you end up riding. 

Just for that first step, you need to paddle with your arms against the tide for a long time. Thereafter, when you do catch a wave, you need to paddle even faster with your arms so as to generate enough momentum to stay ahead of the wave and then do a push-up on the board mid-wave and stand up on the board to ride the wave. 

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All of this requires tremendous core and upper body strength. Even riding a couple of waves and managing to stand up on the board and ride a small wave is exhausting, especially, in the beginning as you are still trying to find your timing and balance. Once you get the hang of it, you could move to bigger waves but that also requires swimming against a stronger tide so the better you get at surfing the more you need to work out. Goa, Chennai and Visakhapatnam are three places where you could surf in India.

Shrenik Avlani is a writer and editor and co-author of The Shivfit Way, a book on functional fitness.

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