Updated: Jan 28
Looking for a great way to stay in shape and learn a new sport? Indoor Rock Climbing is a great way to shake off those cobb-webs and learn some valuable climbing techniques to use when you're ready to try outdoor rock climbing.
The best way to train for Rock Climbing is to climb, in the gym or the crag. Of course, you need to know the basics before you take that first step. Number one, consult your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to start an exercise regimen. Rock climbing takes upper body strength. You will need to at least be able to pull yourself up a rock face sometimes at an uncomfortable angle. Starting a morning schedule of push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups will do wonders for your shoulder and arm strength. Flexibility is also very important, so taking time to stretch before, after, or during your workouts will yield good results. You will also want to work hand and finger strength for developing a stronger grip. As most rock climbing instruction occurs indoors you will most likely be climbing inside a rock climbing gym before you get to a real rock face. Most rock climbing facilities teach rock climbing and will have all the gear you will need to start practicing. Of course, you will need shoes,(check our Rock climbing reviews page to purchase a good pair, or click the image below to see HeadPointe's pick for best rock climbing shoe for beginners on Amazon.com.
The first time I went to a rock climbing gym I felt completely out of place like I was from another planet. I was nervous and sweating- not to mention scared of heights. My family and friends thought I'd lost it. It also didn't help that I was the only African American in the entire place. Once I got over all of that stuff I just kept coming back. They weren't obvious about it, but I'm pretty sure the instructors were surprised to see me each time I showed up. My point is that it is going to be an intimidating situation for you the first few times you go to an indoor rock climbing gym. Now I am going to give you some tips on how to prepare for your first lesson and what I learned in the first few sessions at the gym:
Wear comfortable clothing
If you have workout clothes, you already have rock climbing clothes. So no need to go out and buy a bunch of expensive specialized rock climbing gear. After all, after your first few lessons, you might decide rock climbing isn't for you! Otherwise, choose pants and a shirt that is flexible, yet not too baggy (and not too revealing when viewed from below). You'll want to avoid clothing that might interfere with your climbing like shirts or pants that go past your hands and feet.. Find something that fits snug around your wrists, ankles, and neck. Light, flexible materials are best. Lastly, I would get something that covers the knees, but that's just my preference. Before I knew what I was doing I'd find myself coming home with scuffed and scratched knees more than I care to remember!
Rock Climbing shoes: Most gyms rent them out. You will, however, want to bring along a pair of casual slip-on shoes to wear when not on the wall. However, if you are sure you're in it for the long haul, you can check out the La Sportiva Tarantulace above.
A quick word about socks rented climbing shoes, and germs
If you are the type that gets grossed out by wearing your own shoes without socks I've got some bad news for you: Climbing shoes are supposed to be worn without them - yup, you climb in your bare feet. So just know that germs from a rented pair of shoes present a higher risk because folks usually don't wear socks when climbing. That also means when you are on the wall, where you put your hands is also where someone has put their foot, (or shoe in this case). That can also be a point of contagion. If you have to wear socks, wear thin low-cut booties.
I can't speak for all rock climbing gyms, but the one I went to did not have bag and chalk. I don't know why but I had to buy my own.
At most gyms, the people are pretty laid back. They are a community of folks who just like to climb rocks. Rock climbing is not like other competitive sports where you are trying to beat the other person. Really, it's just you against the wall. Most rock climbers are supportive and friendly people.
When you arrive at the gym, staff might give you a tour of the place so you can see where things are located. if you choose to take a session, you will get a pair of shoes, a harness, and maybe a bag of chalk. A belayer will assist you from there. They will check your harness, make sure your rope is knotted correctly, and teach you the commands you will hear and say while you are being instructed on the wall. Rock climbing is a great way to get and stay in shape. Just remember to be safe and have fun..