HEALTH AND BEAUTY ARCHIVE:
538: Pool party
Keep your cool this summer with a visit to one of Tokyos many pools.
Metropolis shows you where to take the plunge.
536: Don't sweat it
With the hot and humid months upon us, Cristy Burne share some tips on staying
534: Swept away
Put away your broomsticksall you really need to soar through the clouds
is an armful of nylon and a good gust. Cristy Burne checks out the air up there.
532: Tee time
Cant keep it on the fairway? The yips invaded your game?
Rob Smaal finds a few experienced golf pros who can work out your kinks on the
530: Balancing act
An ancient science is helping modern men and women find peace, health and
the always elusive balance. Tama M. Lung takes a closer look at
528: Kicking on
Former K-1 Japan champion Nicholas Pettas shares his love of martial arts
at the new Spirit Gym in Nogizaka. Chris Betros goes along to watch.
526: On call
A revolutionary daily disease self-management system is making life easier
for diabetics. Chris Betros finds out about Lifewatcher.
524: Team spirit
From rugby to roller hockey, Tokyo is teeming with sports clubs for the
expat athlete. Rob Smaal shows you how to get in the game.
522: Type casting
Second-generation blood-type expert Toshitaka Nomi looks at the links between
blood classifications and health. Mick Corliss reports.
520: Like a rock
Climbing instructor Luke Kearns gets a grip on Tokyo's best indoor climbing
516: The personal touch
Madonna and Matsui aren't the only ones who need help staying fit. Hanna
Kite pumps it up with the top personal trainers in Tokyo.
514: From here to maternity
Kavitha Rao turns to a handful of Tokyo experts to track down baby basics
for nervous expat mothers-to-be.
502: Tour de Morton, part deux
Don Morton gets back on two wheels for a leisurely ride out toward Haneda
Like a rock
Climbing instructor Luke Kearns gets a grip on Tokyo's
best indoor climbing gyms.
Rock climbing is often associated with chiseled bodies, and
heights where only birds and window cleaners feel comfortable.
But the accessibility of indoor rock climbing has broken down
the barriers of this rough-and-rugged extreme sport, and given
the average, not-so-chiseled Joe a taste of the thrill it
has to offer.
Here in Tokyo, Pump Sport Climbing Centers have stood atop
the city's artificial rock climbing scene since the
opening of its first gym in 1993. Since then an increasing
number of Tokyoites have discovered the fitness benefits of
climbing, from ripped muscles to greater flexibility. Seasoned
cliffhangers, meanwhile, will find these local spots have
plenty of steeps and overhangs to keep them smiling.
A short walk from Kokubunji station on the Chuo line from
Shinjuku, B-Pump is one of the few exclusive bouldering gyms
in the world. Most gyms cater to the roped climber and have
only a sidewall or two for the boulderer, but B-Pump and its
sister gym, B-Pump 2 in Yokohama, have answered the explosion
in bouldering enthusiasts with two unmatched facilities.
get their fill of caves, corners and pillars at Saitama's
Bouldering originally developed as practice for "roped"
climbers who used boulders to train for their next outdoor
excursion. This meant doing the same type of climbing, but
closer to the ground so they could climb without a rope, and
without a partner. But as time went on and climbs got harder,
so did the bouldering. Climbers from around the world soon
found that these close-to-the-ground movements were beneficial,
and extremely challenging.
Dai Koyamada is the current leader of the Japanese bouldering
movement. Aside from two victories at the All Japan Championship,
Koyamada has earned international respect, most recently for
establishing a route on his home turf of Kyushu that some
suggest may be the toughest rock ever climbed. Its horizontal
roof and handholds are only large enough for single fingers.
But bouldering's not just for the experts, as B-Pump
proves. "There's something for everyone here,"
says Michael Schleakel, a climber of 30 years from Munich
Germany. "There are endless routes, lots of easy ones
for the beginner, and plenty of difficult ones to keep the
strong climbers happy too."
B-Pump's dead overhanging roofs turn to mellow, less-than-vertical
walls topping out at around 5 meters. Covered with a rainbow
of holds, the walls offer endless possibilities as well as
several preset routes or "problems," as they're
called in bouldering. They are also separated into several
rooms and bouldering caves, creating corners, roofs and pillars
that mimic the unique features of outdoor rock.
B-Pump offers daily introductory lessons for kids and adults
alike, and has spotters for more experienced climbers. Like
most gyms of its kind, it has a friendly and supportive atmosphere.
To get started, all you need are two things: specialized shoes
with sticky rubber soles, and chalk to keep your hands dry.
B-Pump provides both, in addition to an in-house pro shop
with all the gear a climber could ever desire.
For those who dream to clamber up where the air is thinner,
roped climbing is the way to go. But the sight of climbers
dangling from the ceiling can be a bit unsettling for the
first-time climber. As one person climbs, a "belayer"
stands below holding the other end of the rope. It's
their job to secure the rope in case the climber falls or
needs to rest.
climber hangs on at Pump 1, Japan's second-largest
With its futuristic open-dome ceiling and towering walls
of all angles, Kawasaki City's Pump 2 is Japan's
largest indoor climbing facility and perhaps the best place
to try your hand at roped climbing. Professional instructors
and fixed lessons at Pump 2 and Saitama's Pump 1, the
nation's second-largest gym, make it easy for the beginner
to get comfortable climbing up high. Each gym also has a bouldering
wall, which is a great way to warm up before hitting the ropes.
For experienced climbers, both Pump locations are equipped
with "lead" climbing walls.
Lead climbing originated outdoors as a way to get the rope
to the top of the climb. On most climbs, it's not as
easy as walking to the top of the cliff and setting up a line.
A lead climber typically has to ascend first and attach the
rope to the top of the rock. Because of the greater difficulty
of lead climbing, practice indoors is a great way to hone
the necessary skills.
Lessons for this and more basic roped climbing skills run
daily, but call or email ahead, and book you and your partner
at least a few days ahead of time. You may even find yourself
climbing alongside World Cup climbing legend Yuji Hirayama,
who along with Kodayama practices and gives talks at Pump
gyms in between record-breaking climbs around the world.
As these two champions can attest, while climbing indoors
can be a thrill, it's also great experience for the
aspiring outdoor climber. From a few stops outside Shinjuku
to the Japan Alps in Nagano to Okinawa, there are a number
of established and newly developed climbing areas across Japan.
And putting in the hours inside is the ideal way to get the
all-important back, fingers and forearms in shape to test
the routes this spring.
Photo credit: Martin Hladik
this article with metropolis readers at http://forum.japantoday.com