My fitness journey out of my comfort zone continues as I branch (and reach) out and try my hand at bouldering!
I have a terrible fear of heights, so when my friends asked me to come bouldering with them I obviously said no without a second thought. However, after some prodding and pushing, I found myself walking though the doors of Brooklyn Boulders completely unprepared and nervous. If you have not heard of or tried bouldering before, it's basically rock climbing but without a harness. The walls are not as high as typical rock climbing walls and instead of climbing straight up, you try to reach the top by following a mapped out path that varies in difficulty (i.e. trying to reach the top by only following rocks that are marked blue).
Having no idea what to expect, I velcroed on my shoes and walked towards the wall. Standing next to the wall my first instinct was to take my shoes off and walk away, but looking around I was comforted by all of the people climbing around me. A great mixture of people who varied in skill, age, athletic ability, and seriousness, were all climbing and enjoying themselves. With that boost of positive energy, and after watching my friends do several climbs, I took the leap.
On my first climb I only made it about a foot off the ground. My arms were shaking and I was terrified, but the second my feet were back on the ground I couldn't wait to get back up. I was flooded with pure excitement and adrenaline. The next time I climbed I made it two feet, the third four, and finally I reached the top. By the end of the day, I was tired, starving, and completely re-energized. It was definitely a work out and the day after my upper back, shoulders, and neck were very happy to be worked on by the chiropractors in our office.
Over all, I would highly recommend bouldering to anyone who's looking for a new sport or hobby. It was fun, engaging, and is something that, with practice, you can improve on and grow. This is also a sport that does not typecast, as there was a great variety of people climbing at all different levels of experience - which made it incredibly accessible as a first timer. Bouldering can be a family activity, couples date, solo adventure, or go with a group of friends like I did.
What I recommend:
- Comfortable clothing! The shoes you wear don't matter (you have to rent a pair) but don't forget to wear socks! Dress like you're going to the gym, I saw some people in jeans but I personally was very happy to be in work out leggings and a t-shirt
- A water bottle. I definitely regretted not bringing a water bottle, frequent trips to the water fountain can be annoying and I definitely worked harder than I expected
- Chalk! I was lucky to be with friends that had their own - but the difference having chalk made was noticeable
- To just go for it! At first I almost missed an opportunity out of fear and lack of experience, but no one is an expert the first time.
What to expect:
- Sore hands, callused palms, and a tight back
- To work a lot harder than you expected
- The rock climbing shoes are snug (on purpose). They fit tightly so you can feel the rocks better but over time they can feel uncomfortable if you are not used to them
- To meet some amazing people and have a lot of fun
The main cost is the entry fee and the cost of renting shoes, which varies depending on where you go. For example at Brooklyn Boulders where I went is $32 for a day pass and $6 for climbing shoes. If you're motivated and fall in love with bouldering you can sign up for a monthly membership and purchase climbing shoes. Keep an eye out for the frequently posted Groupon deals!
Give it a try and let me know what you think!