5 Reasons Climbing Is For ALL Bodies

Find out why gym climbing is the perfect sport for all shapes and sizes...

Indoor climbing has been growing at an exponential rate over the past few years, and it’s a great activity for anyone that has never been one for traditional sporting ventures. One of the factors at play in this boom is the accessibility of climbing for any and all shapes and sizes; as the adage goes “if you can climb a ladder, you can climb on a wall”. And yet, many misconceptions still exist about whether or not plus size people can climb. The short answer: yes. For the long answer, read on…

  1. The Gear Won’t Let You Down

Many bigger people may be nervous to try out climbing because they fear that the ropes and harnesses won’t be strong enough to hold them up – this is one of the most common questions posed to gyms. Well, we’re happy to reassure you that climbing gear is outrageously strong, and breaking a rope simply with your bodyweight is virtually impossible.

As explained in this article from Outdoor Inquirer, most climbing ropes can withstand an impact force (i.e. fall) of around 24kN – that means they can safely catch a falling weight of up to 2400kg… that’s an extra chunky Toyota Hilux. So, trust us, you’ll be fine. Similarly, gear such as harnesses and anchors can withstand inhuman forces, and they will not break because you weigh more than the “average” climber.

  1. Gyms Are Set Up For Everyone

Although you may be discouraged by the many lean and sinewy climbers around a gym, the truth remains that gyms are designed to give EVERYONE a chance to try out rock climbing. Gyms typically have a varied size range of rental gear, and no gym will ever turn you away because of your weight. Furthermore, if you look a little closer, you’ll notice that there are people of all shapes and sizes on the walls and behind the desk. 

The driving mission of many gyms and their staff is to introduce as many people as possible to climbing. Not only because that’s business, but also because they know how much positive change it can bring for self-confidence, mental health, and so much more. 

  1. You’re Stronger Than You Think

Again, if you can climb a ladder, you can climb a wall. Many beginners feel that they do not have the upper body strength for climbing, but the reality is that a lot of the work is done by your legs (which carry you around all day anyway) and you are capable of more than you think.

The key, as with all things, is to take things slow and be patient with yourself. If your weight makes it difficult to move around or you get out of breath very quickly, you may find even the easiest problems a big challenge. But by no means should you give up, even though it can be easy to get discouraged. Just focus on getting confident on the wall, improving your technique in small steps and (brace for cheese) having fun! 

Of course, we can’t deny that climbing becomes easier when you are carrying less weight up the wall… but that’s not really something to be concerned about when you’re just starting out. It must also be mentioned that your chance of injury can increase due to weight, especially in activities like bouldering where your fall won’t be caught by a rope. This doesn’t mean you can’t boulder or push yourself, but just make sure to climb within your limits, listen to your body and learn the proper safety procedures. If you’re worried about your safety at any point, the gym staff will be happy to assist and reassure you. 

  1. The Community Is Here For You

It’s been said before and we’ll say it again: the climbing community is the BEST. We just love climbing so damn much that we want everyone to see how great it is – no matter what they look like. When you dip your toes into the mountain goat life, you’ll find that many other gym goers will be there to cheer you on, congratulate you on your progress, give you tips to improve, and make it clear that you are welcome. 

Very important to remember is that all climbers had to start from day one. They know what it’s like to feel insecure and intimidated, and they’re here to give you the support you need. 

  1. The Proof Is All Around

The best evidence for our case is the fact that the world is full of badass, plus size climbers – and if they can do it, you sure as hell can. Just a few months back, in August 2021, Climbing.com published this article by Drew Hulsey which explores his journey as a ‘bigger’ climber. This follows Emmie Harrision-West’s April 2021 article for UKClimbing.com: “How it Feels to be a Fat, Female Climber”. And let’s not forget this blog published by Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) on the stereotypes that follow plus size climbers.

These are just a few of the incredible, vivaciously voluptuous climbers that have found strength in climbing, and there are countless others on the same journey.

We’re not going to pretend that you will not face challenges or encounter some nasty size-ist attitudes. But we mean it when you say that there is a place for you here, and you deserve to enjoy the crag (indoor or outdoor) exactly as you are, just as much as everyone else.