If you work out at a climbing gym for any period of time, you’ll realize that a significant percentage of the members did not start out as climbers in search of technical improvement. Many of those who are hanging from their fingertips and standing on features little larger than the thickness of a pencil are there because they hate to exercise! So what was the catch that has exercise haters getting in far better shape than they could dream about at an indoor climbing facility? A climbing gym provides an incredible workout for both the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal system without tedious iron pumping or pedal spinning. More importantly, one of the fastest growing sports of the last decade got its popularity because it is just plain fun.
If you want to try out climbing indoors, find out if you have a climbing gym in your local vicinity. If you live in or near a city of over 100,000 there will probably be a climbing gym or two nearby. Many smaller cities have climbing facilities as well.
Chances are the gym will not only have all the gear you need but an introductory class so that you can start up the “cliffs” within minutes. Expect to find many paths up the textured surfaces. Usually there are so many routes up the walls that climbers of all levels can find a challenge cracking a sequence of moves that will allow passage to the top. Besides the roped climbs, climbing facilities usually have a bouldering section where groups of climbers work on specialized “problems.” Boulder problems are short sequences of more difficult moves where skills are polished and an encouraging atmosphere keeps motivation power high. To round out the exercise aspect of climbing gyms, most facilities build long traversing climbs close to the ground so that a person who wants to exercise for endurance could stay climbing until total muscular failure if so desired. Some climbers enjoy the gym experience because the activity of climbing can be practiced with an exceptional degree of safety and at a moment’s notice. Career professionals and house moms alike can hit the gym and be nearly as proficient as the person who has unlimited time to climb since the indoor cliff is open day and night. Should one decide to take the sport outside, a short course about safety on natural rock will be all that is necessary. Since the gym climber will have already developed the skills for advanced movement he / she will be ready to partner up with a competent leader on increasingly challenging technical climbs.
When you go to the Indoor climbing page at www.climbingaction.com, be sure to check the link with the nationwide listing of climbing gyms to find a facility near you.