Tag Archives: body image

The Other Side of Eating Disorders & Climbing


Today’s author, Madi, sussing it out in Cheakamus Canyon, British Columbia.

In response to our series on climbing and body image (parts one, two, three), guest contributor Madi reached out to tell her story. Today she shares her personal experience with climbing and her eating disorder. 

Climbing saved me from my eating disorder. When I was introduced to climbing at the age of 18 things were not going well in my body and mind. Ninety percent of my conscious thought revolved around counting. Counting calories consumed, calories burned, minutes until I would let myself eat again, minutes on the treadmill; keeping track of the lies I had told in order to exude what I thought was an air of normality; re-counting calories consumed because I had probably made a mistake, “I should round up,” I thought.

It had been a year and a half of struggle at that point and I was still in denial. Then climbing appeared. Did you know that climbing is really, really fun? I personally had no idea — wow, my hands shake as I type this — no idea that people even did this. Climbed up rocks. Vertically? The next weekend I bought a harness and the relationship began.

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Climbing & Body Image: Is There an Ideal Body Type for Climbing?

Climbers definitely aren’t a bunch with “average” bodies. Photo by Jake Naughton.

Today’s post continues our analysis of the 2,014 responses to our climber body image survey. 

If you look around the climbing gym or the crag, of course you’ll see some degree of variety in body type, but by and large we can probably agree that what we are going to see are people who have less body fat and more muscle than the general population. So how does this affect a person when they spend a lot of time with this cohort? Personally, I have realized that spending a lot of time with ultra fit folks causes my view of reality to be a bit skewed. I have had my moments of being at a climbing gym and feeling like, “Man, if only I was like 10 pounds lighter and my thighs weren’t so damn huge I could probably send that climb,” only to go to a regular gym or some random social situation and have people actually remark on how fit I look. After reading through our survey results it was a bit of a relief to see I’m not alone in this experience, but at the same time it’s been saddening to hear the painful experiences people have when they feel they don’t measure up to what a climber “should” look like. In our first post on body image we looked at some of the ways in which climbing improved body image. Today we look at some of the more negative trends including a surprising find about male climbers and their body image issues. We conclude with a deeper look at the question “Is there a right body type for climbing?”

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