by Nate Zwerling, Gripstone

When it comes to fitness, there’s plenty to do in Prescott. 

Outdoor opportunities are numerous, including access to millions of acres of national forest and thousands of miles of trails for hiking biking, riding and more.

It’s no secret that folks come from all over just to get a taste of Yavapai County’s mountain bike trails. But then again, not everyone’s cut out for the high-desert life. When it gets hot, even the toughest cyclists stay indoors.  Indoors options include fitness gyms, treadmills or weight lifting, but that can be pretty mindless for some.

Like many of us, I like to use my brain as well as my body for fitness. I need to be actively engaged at all times — 100 percent focused or I get bored easily. Rock climbing gives me that. And the best part? In the Prescott area, I can do it indoors and outside.

Rock climbing is a great fitness activity that can be done year-round thanks to the recent rise of climbing gyms. Personally, I love to climb outdoors, but when summer heat beats down on you it starts to sound a lot more appealing to climb in an air-conditioned environment for a nice change. Regardless if you choose to climb indoors or outside, the same benefits apply.

Climbing is a full-body workout. Initially, climbers can tell they are building upper body strength in their forearms, back and shoulders because of the soreness they may encounter after their first time climbing.  Quickly though, sore forearms and hands gives way to strengthening of the rest of your body as your technique improves.

If you want to climb outdoors around Prescott, the hike up to Thumb Butte and Granite Mountain will give you the warm-up you need before you climb and carrying all your gear will really work out those legs.

Need something a little closer? Then look no further than the Dells. They’re incredibly accessible and have a very short approach hike to most routes.

Climbing isn’t just about physical fitness, it’s an excellent source of emotional and mental fitness as well. Climbing activates the same parts of your brain that other more traditional exercises do, giving you a sense of accomplishment and calm. Studies in recent years have corroborated the positive effects climbing has on our mental health.

My favorite thing about climbing has nothing to do with the physical or mental workout. What I love most is the social aspect. Like so many of us, keeping to a fitness routine has been difficult because I didn’t have people to share it with or a community to hold me accountable.

When climbing as part of a community, you don’t realize you’re working out primarily because the whole experience, indoors or out, is so much fun!  I know I am not alone in saying that “if I could be fit without lifting a finger, I would do that in a heartbeat.” 

When climbing with friends, it feels this exact way. At no point do you feel like you’re really working out, and that’s the best part. It just sort of creeps up on you, slowly transforming you into a healthier more centered version of yourself.

Mentally, physically and emotionally — I will always be a climber.

Visit us at 319 N. Lee Blvd., Prescott, call (928) 458-7579 or visit gripstone.net.