After work, Kim Sunggyu, an office worker, works his mind at “escape rooms” and works his body at climbing gyms. He has some unique hobbies, which he sticks with, and I had clear objectives for my two interviews with him: To show them to office workers who say they have no hobbies other than drinking, and to share them with anyone just looking for something new. To be able to tell them, “Here are some cool things you can do.” Of course, I’m one of these office workers myself.
This interview is about his climbing hobby. You can see the first, on escape rooms, here.
You would think that if you look at someone like professional climber Kim Ja-in who goes very high up. But actually, I do a climbing activity called “bouldering”. It’s an indoor sport that you can safely enjoy and it’s not too high up (even if you fall, it’s not a big problem). It’s not to the level of extreme.
It’s like an escape room. You’re given a problem, and you have to solve it. For the escape rooms, you’re solving problems in your head; with climbing, you’re solving problems with your body. You can only use the holds to get to the destination, and it’s harder than it looks. Along with a sense of achievement, you get to use the muscles you haven’t used in a while. You get a good workout.
Yes. I started this sport because I wanted to get more muscle definition. I saw the lean muscle on professional climber Kim Ja-in and thought to myself, “Ah, that’s the trend these days…” If you think about it, it was such a pathetic reason to start this hobby. Of course, it helps with dieting because it’s a sport. But when you actually get up there, it’s really hard to hang on to the holds for a long time. I’m not sure if you’ll lose fat just by doing this, like with swimming or running. After climbing, I work out a bit and control my food intake.
It’s better if you’re lighter for this sport. Some people start climbing to lose weight and then go on diets to get better at it. If you start having fun, you’ll be motivated to lose weight, and it helps to do this with other basic exercises.
Climbing, simply put, is divided into two types: “bouldering”, where you climb a given route without any ropes, and “lead”, where you use ropes to climb up high. I just do bouldering, so I’ll talk about that. As I said, you don’t use equipment for bouldering, so you don’t need anything besides a pair of climbing shoes. First-timers who want to try bouldering can go to a climbing gym and rent climbing shoes for about 5,000 won to 10,000 won. If you are really serious about it and want to take lessons, you should buy a pair of climbing shoes for beginners. They only cost about 70,000 won.
I got myself a pair of intermediate-level climbing shoes after seven months. They cost me about 200,000 won. If you get to the point of buying these kinds of shoes, it probably means you have really gotten into climbing. You can ask around or do some research on the internet. There’s a big difference in class fees by location, facility, and program, so I can’t tell you exactly how much a class would be. But it’s better to take classes for about two months rather than just trying to get up there. I think after that, it would be okay to do it on your own.
The level of difficulty depends on the course. They let you on the wall right away in the beginner’s course. But if you want to develop your skills so you can have more fun, I recommend taking classes. You’ll learn how to hang on better and move more effectively. To prepare for that, maybe making sure you’re feeling well..?
Courses differ by level so you should pick the one that’s right for you. If you try a course that’s above your level, you can tear a muscle. Usually, one course has same-colored tape on the holds or next to the holds. But beyond that, you also have an unlimited number of ways to finish a course. Because of my escape room activities, I haven’t had the energy to visit other climbing gyms. Right now, I’m honing my skills at “Jeong Ji Hyeon Climbing Gym” near Seoul National University Station.
I started working out in my early 20’s, I can do 10 pull-ups pretty easily. So I initially worried that climbing wouldn’t be enough exercise for me, since for climbing, you also use your feet to support your body, while you only use your arms for pull-ups. But I underestimated climbing. In climbing, you use a different set of muscles. For the first few weeks, my hands shook so much. When you lift weights, you work out your bigger muscles, so you don’t really work out your grip. But in climbing, the grip is really important. Your hands will hurt a lot before you build up calluses.
But I think of this process as growing pains because you’re using muscles you haven’t really used before. You’ll have a lot of fun after your body adjusts to it. You’ll know what I mean if you try it. I think it’s good to do basic physical exercises to help prepare yourself. And if you want to give it a try… check out a climbing gym. Starting is really the half of it.
If I can give you some motivation, my muscles look so different after I started climbing. I’m in the best shape of my life, and I think it’s because of climbing. My weight fell from the high 70s (kg) to the low 70s.
Also, both men and women can be good at climbing. It can depend on the course, but it’s useful if you are generally tall (long reach), strong, flexible, light, and have a good sense of balance. Even if men are taller and stronger, women are often more flexible, stable, and light. I’m often surprised at how good the women are. Having small hands and feet is useful, too.
I usually do what I want do at any given time… rather than have my eye on something. I try it if it looks fun. So if I’m not doing it right now, that probably means I’m not into it. If I have to pick, I think I want to pick up guitar lessons again someday. But right now, I feel like I don’t have enough time to thoroughly enjoy the two hobbies I already have.
As I said before, both are about solving problems, and I have to concentrate to solve the problems. I can be fully immersed in them. And even for just those moments, I can forget about everything else. And after I solve these problems, I guess I am less stressed.
I never really dealt with my stress with alcohol or cigarettes… When I used to go to the gym to do weights, I would sometimes feel lazy and wouldn’t want to go. But with climbing, I don’t think that at all. Instead of alcohol or cigarettes, I used to de-stress myself with movies, American dramas, music, variety shows, and things like that. But with the new hobbies, I think I spend less time on these things. I still enjoy them, so that’s kind of disappointing. But I still enjoy craft beer.
Let’s be honest. Work isn’t fun. There can be exceptions. Work can be more fun than any hobby for those who enthusiastically started a business or those who really love the work they do, but these are very rare circumstances. If work is fun, we probably have to pay to do it. Work is normally not fun. But having fun is very important. I’m not a very interesting person, and I can’t come up with a saying like in a really good movie or novel. I think having a hobby that gives you a sense of satisfaction and even a little bit of joy, even if it’s not very fun, is the right way to live.
After work, you can study a foreign language or take classes for a certification for self-development. But wouldn’t it help with your office life to have at least one hobby that you can enjoy and help you recharge? I don’t think that’s true only for “hobbyists” like me. Learning foreign languages or dating can be hobbies for some people. Clubbing can be a hobby. Whatever it is, it’s important to find something you enjoy.
Just two things. It’s better to try something and then regret it than not trying it and regretting it. But you probably won’t regret something you tried just once. Right? Second. If you enjoy a unique hobby, people might think you are weird or an “otaku”. But is what others think of you really important? I joined Instagram after I started climbing and going to escape rooms. Since both are about solving problems, I think it’s nice to leave a record of my achievements. They’re great motivators, too.
Instagram : @bismachia