Pushing Boundaries

Everyone’s dream is to be able to do what they love for the rest of their lives, so what happens when you turn your passion into your profession? Jay Koh, one of Singapore’s top climbers, has done that with his sports career and is running his own climbing facility, Kinetics Climbing! SportSanity had the privilege of talking to him to find out more.


What is your current profession?
I have been running Kinetics Climbing for about 3 years now, so I am here most of the time and I go overseas to climb occasionally. 

Could you share with us more about your adventures as a rock climber?
When I was younger I used to be more competitive, and it was really fun. But now that I am older, I look forward to climbing outside and explore different places. When I was in university, I travelled to Krabi more than 15 times to climb, which is a popular destination for beginners. Now that I’ve started working, I’ve been to places like Spain, Europe, France, Switzerland, South Africa, China and many others. When you travel, you meet fellow climbers who share the same passion, sometimes although we don’t speak the same languages, we always understand each other when it comes to climbing. 

Travelling to climb has also allowed me to learn more about other cultures, spend time with different kinds of people. All of these different places have different rock formations, making each climb very special and challenging at the same time.

So does that mean you’ve stopped competing?
The uniqueness of climbing is that when you get older, you climb better and climb harder. This is because climbing is not just about the physical aspect, but more so of technique and tactic. It is extremely common for people to start climbing at 30. It takes a really long time to refine the tactical aspect of climbing. 

Right now I may be quite old but I am still able to out climb people who are 14 or 15 years younger than me (laughs)

Since you climb so often, I am sure you have products that you favour. Could you share some of them with us?
Of course! My favourite items would be – The North Face Base Camp Duffel, Short Sleeve Orangahang Woven Shirt and the Horizon II Convertible Pants! 

The duffel bag is not just any average duffel bag, I like it because of its durable laminate material, making it a bomber of a bag. It is resilient to be roughed around in-flight or to be transported up a mountain via a yak. Furthermore, its 72-lifer capacity provides ideal storage for extended trips lasting three to four days! 

As for the woven shirt, it helps when the temperature starts to rise. It is a cotton-blend shirt with short sleeves which is great for casual wear and travelling. 

For the convertible pants.. I think the name says it all! It is a really comfortable pair of pants that can be easily converted to shorts. I think it is definitely a must-have.

How did the idea of Kinetics Climbing arise, what was the story behind it?
Starting Kinetics was not in the plan all along but we wanted to see exciting new changes to the local climbing scene. Since climbing is developing pretty quickly in Singapore, we wanted to see new places being set up as well. Currently I am managing the place with 2 other full time staff and part timers. 

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced?
Wow.. Challenges, where do I start? (laughs) Starting a business is never easy and there are many things that have never crossed your mind that could be potential problems. Even simple things like fixing a tap, we could not afford to hire someone to come down to fix it, yet at the same time we did not know how to do it ourselves. In every business, I believe labor cost is a key component. 

Furthermore, all of the handholds and footholds on the walls are imported and are extremely costly. The screws are bought separately. The wall was built by myself, and it was really tough but I am extremely happy with the result. 

Does Kinetics cater to children as well?
Yes, the minimum age is 4 and we have classes for them every Sunday morning to help improve their psychomotor skills.

Wow, I wish I had those classes when I was young! What are some of your goals for the year? 
For my own personal goals, I would like to try and climb at more difficult sites and push the difficulty of my own climbing (8a+ and up).

Could you give us 3 reasons or tips to encourage our users to start climbing?
Just 3? I could give you so many more (laughs)

3 reasons to start climbing: 

  1. Part of the fun of climbing, is when you see a female climbing up so much easier than you, you realise its not about brute force but about technique
  2. Problem solve – you have to analyse and plan a route that is the easiest for you to get up depending on your body size 
  3. For beginners, focus more on tactical training more than strength or physical training

Tactic and technique are very different.

Tactic is more about having a game plan, knowing what to do at different occasions. The tactic to use depends on gradient and terrain, when you want to go faster or slower or burst through the crux. Usually the idea is to break it down into sections and piece it back together. 


We ended off this interview with wise words from Jay, it was truly an interesting interview and we learnt so much from him! 


Written by Denise Chan

Denise is the General Manager of SportSanitySG who writes and edits articles for the website. She is currently studying in Singapore Management University. As an avid fan of sports, she is actively seeking to write inspiring and informative articles for the sporting community.

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