For many plus-size individuals, climbing can be intimidating and even terrifying. However, we had the pleasure of speaking with Kimmi, a plus-size climber who found a new passion in climbing after leaving the pole fitness community due to anti-fatness and diet culture. They discovered a welcoming and non-judgmental community in climbing, which has profoundly impacted their lives, from improving their body awareness to supporting their ED (Eating Disorder) recovery. Keep reading to hear directly from Kimmi on what it’s like to be a plus-size climber:
Can you tell us about your background and how you got into climbing?
I was previously doing pole fitness – I did it for over ten years – but there’s a lot of fatphobia in that community along with constant diet talk; it became such a drain on my mental health, so I stopped. About a year later, a friend asked me to go to our local bouldering gym with her, and I was blown away by how welcoming & non-judgemental climbers are. I signed up for membership before I’d even done my first climb!
What inspired you to pursue climbing, and how has it impacted your life?
I had tried climbing when I was younger, so I knew it was something I’d enjoy. It’s had such a positive impact in my life, from smaller things like getting me out of the house more often to deeper things like helping me with my ED recovery (being in an environment that isn’t ruled by diet culture is amazing).
What do you wear to climb in? Are there any particular brands you love or would recommend that cater to plus-size humans?
I don’t have brand recommendations, but I’ve found the best clothing for me is leggings or shorts that have light compression & are high-waisted for belly support, plus a shirt that isn’t very baggy. You don’t want anything that’s too loose and could potentially get caught on the climbing holds.
As a plus-size person, have you encountered any specific challenges or barriers in your climbing journey? If so, how have you overcome them?
Having a big belly, hips and bust did make it a bit more challenging in the beginning. I had to figure out how to make some movements work for my body. Also, learning that gave me better body awareness, which is a useful thing in climbing.
What’s your happiest moment when climbing?
Set days are the best. Once a week, a section of the gym gets reset and is opened for use late in the afternoon. There’s a bunch of regulars in every week to climb the new set. My son and I have joined a few times, and it’s just the best vibes! Everyone is encouraging, cheering on, and helping each other as they try out the new climbs. Even if they haven’t met you before!
What advice would you give to other plus-size people interested in climbing?
If you’re thinking about trying it, go for it. Please don’t put it off for ages because you haven’t seen other plus-size people climbing.
Have you noticed any changes in the climbing community regarding inclusivity and diversity? If so, how can we continue to promote inclusivity and make climbing more accessible for everyone?
I’ve only been climbing for a year, so I’m still fairly new in the community and haven’t noticed those kinds of changes. I think plus-size climbers (and those doing it as a more casual hobby) sharing videos and pics on social media is helping to show that climbing isn’t limited to smaller bodies.
Anything else you would like to share or tell us about?
Movement (especially climbing) brings me so much joy; I want everyone to experience that!
If you’re ever wondering whether climbing is for you as a plus-size person, take inspiration from Kimmi! Follow Kimmi on TikTok, Instagram, or YouTube to learn more about the world of plus-size climbing and get tips on how to get started.
Make sure to share this post with a friend, and if you’re looking for more support or want to learn more, check out the Climb Big Community on Facebook. It’s a private group that focuses on making rock climbing and the outdoors more accessible to fat folx!