If you're looking for a challenge and a bit of an adrenaline rush but you don't want to travel, how about attending your local indoor climbing wall? Last month I tried out the wall at Westway Sports and Fitness Centre in West London and absolutely loved it!
Whether you've tried climbing or bouldering before or if, like me, you're a complete newbie, the Wall offers something for everyone. I took a climbing class one evening after work and on your first session you get a 90 minute taster course. It goes SO fast but you get an introduction to rope work, taught how to put the harness on and how to tie various knots so that you can support another climber on the wall. You work in twos, as you would outside, and support another climber.
The session starts with a pretty simple vertical wall with the aim being to get to the top. You then move to other walls which have different inclines and different set ups. I always wondered how indoor climbing remained interesting but on each wall we were challenged to only use a certain colour hand-hold to make it up the wall. This made it a lot harder and I loved the challenge. They regularly change the set-up of the hand-holds and we were encouraged to use the crevices in the wall too, as you would outside.
Three common misconceptions about indoor climbing
1. You do not have to be strong - strength doesn't come into it as much as people think. It's actually more about being creative and reaching out and grabbing a hold. If you're looking for an all over body workout this will definitely help! Whilst upper body strength is by no means a prerequisite, after a few climbing sessions you'll definitely notice a change in the tone of your arm muscles.
2. It's not as scary as you might think - okay so swinging 13m from the floor from a rope may seem a little daunting but you are securely roped on. When I went for a grab which was a little too far I came away from the wall and just swung slightly, I didn't fall to the floor.
3. The people there are not all pros - it can be hard trying a new sport if you know nothing about it but given that the wall changes all of the time, a lot of people there will be trying that route for the first time. After a few routes up, you begin to realise how far you can reach and where you can wriggle your toes into cracks. The team at Westway are on hand to coach you through how to tie the knots and give you tips as you climb.
Have you been indoor climbing? I'd love to know if you're a regular climber and if you have any tips feel free to share them below. If you're outside London you can find a local wall here.