I started indoor rock climbing last spring. I’m not a particularly gifted athlete, but I’ve taken a liking to the way the sport encourages you to work at your own pace. It’s a rewarding activity for those who aren’t afraid to conquer their fear of heights.
What Is It?
Indoor climbing imitates the experience of climbing outdoors in a safe, controlled environment. It’s a sport that’s great for all ages; I’ve seen kids as young as six and adults in their sixties at the climbing gym. It develops physical strength, balance, hand-eye coordination, and burns a lot of calories. The sport is also mentally stimulating, promoting constant awareness, assessing challenges and consequences, and quick thinking.
Climbing is simple, but not exactly intuitive. There’s a lot of tricky technique, intimidating lingo, and of course, safety-related precaution involved. I’d suggest googling your local indoor climbing gym to see when beginner classes are available. Most gyms will have starter classes for adults, as well as youth programs separated by age.
Climbing is relatively inexpensive, compared to the costs of less active investments (read: video games). Having rock climbing shoes is essential (you can climb in regular sneakers, but the results aren’t pretty). Gyms will have rentals available, usually around $5. If you want to continue climbing after your first time, you’ll want to get your own shoes. For adults, they run anywhere from $70 to $120; kids shoes are as low as $40. You can sometimes buy heavily discounted used shoes from climbing gyms. Be sure to ask.
If you want to belay climb (going higher, hooked into a rope), you’ll need a friend to belay you and a harness, which will cost another $70 to $100; kids’ harnesses are $40 to $70. You can usually rent one (at my gym, it only costs $3 a day), and they’ll teach you how to belay correctly and safely.