Want to Workout Together? Go Climb a Rock

couple rock climbing
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Why rock climbing and working out together is good for your relationship.

For many couples, working out together is a nice idea, but one that rarely succeeds in practice. Part of the problem is that, when it comes to fitness, the gender-divide is like something out of a Mad Men episode. Most weight rooms are still a festival of bros, and, as someone who's been the only guy in a Pilates class, I can say from firsthand experience that it's not as fun as it sounds. But it turns out that there is a solution for the couple that wants to get fit together, and it's as easy (well, probably a lot easier actually) as climbing a rock.

Unlike a lot of popular fitness activities, which tend to be heavily weighted on either side of the male/female divide (pole dancing anyone?), rock climbing is a surprisingly gender-neutral sport. In fact, go to most rock climbing gyms and you will likely see the exact same demographic and gender distribution that you saw at Whole Foods earlier that day. Sorry if that's a little too gentrified for your tastes, but when it comes to a couples-friendly workout, you should probably take what you can get.

Part of the reason that rock climbing is such a great couples activity is that it doesn't really favor one gender over another. Unlike weight rooms, which tend to reward brute strength, and classes like Pilates, which reward flexibility, rock climbing uses a little bit of both. More importantly, rock climbing is more about technique rather than strength, which means that, though a guy can power through a climb a little easier, his technique will often suffer because of it. And a woman, who can't cheat as easily through raw strength, will often develop her technique much more quickly. In the end, as has been my experience anyway, this tends to even things out in terms of how much you both improve.

Also, rock climbing is great because much of it is a two-man operation. Bouldering you can do by yourself—although it's way more fun to do with someone—but top roping and lead climbing both require a partner. Top roping is where one person climbs while the other stands on the ground and belays you (belaying is basically just applying friction to the rope so that the climber doesn't fall very far). Lead climbing is where you both climb, but one person leads, while the other follows behind and belays.

And once you get proficient enough to do either, they're an amazing amount of fun, as well as a phenomenal workout that hits nearly every muscle group. And since you'll most likely have to take a class in order to certify, it will give you yet another activity that you can share with each other. And believe me, you'll want to take those classes with a partner—don't and you'll end up belaying a sock-and-sandals wearing weirdo who inexplicably smells like eggs (trust me, every rock climbing gym seems to have one).


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