By Carmen Lopez
Rock climbing is gaining traction in Chicago with the addition of the Malkin-Sacks Rock Climbing Walls at Maggie Daley Park. Keith Geraghty, 38, is the director of climbing programming at the Chicago Athletic Clubs has been scaling walls for 15 years. Geraghty discusses how those who participate in the sport reap the benefits.
Edited for brevity and clarity.
Carmen Lopez: What are the benefits of climbing?
Keith Geraghty: Climbing impacts participant’s strength, balance, coordination, core and power. It also helps with more abstract things like confidence, teamwork and problem solving skills.
CL: What is the most common improvement among beginners?
KG: Beginners improve the most when they start to trust the safety systems and they get comfortable with falling. Climbers are afraid to fall so they grip the holds too tight and use more strength than they need to.
CL: When do they start to climb comfortably?
KG: When they learn to relax. They start to let go of their control more.
CL: What are some psychological benefits?
KG: Climbing is a way to push one’s personal boundaries. In a very tangible way, you can set a goal for yourself and push past where you thought you would get. All the time I hear “I can’t do it.” It takes someone to push them before they do. Once they prove it to themselves that they can climb the beginner’s wall they are mentally changed and can apply that to other areas of their lives.
CL: How are climbers perceived?
KG: Climbers are among the friendliest, most helpful people I know. The sport relies on others helping you through spotting and belaying.