Rock Climbing. A sport (yes it is a sport) which I always thought would be more fun than a workout. Oh how wrong was I?!
Fun. Yes. Workout. Hell yeah. My upper body gave up by the end of the hour.
Ok so back to the beginning.
Alex and I are big gym lovers. We even occasionally workout together – Alex almost killing me but hey, no pain no gain right?! We’re always looking for something new and fun which we can do together. Something for date night which is active, a workout and yet still a laugh. Even a little competitive at times.
So off we ventured one Monday evening to the Seymour Centre near Marylebone to give rock climbing a whirl. Both beginners, we had a one-to-one session to get us going.
Our instructor/coach, Michal, was super friendly and soon had us strapping ourselves up, and showing us the ropes. Quite literally. We were briefly taken over the knot used and how it all worked before being let loose on the wall.
We tried the lower wall first, and that wasn’t any where near as hard or scary as I first thought. Right up until I made it to the top, using the colours Michal advised, and was told to just sit back.
Yes you read right. Just sit back.
You’re then lowered down by the person grounding you, and you just have to walk your legs down the wall. Now that was the scary bit, first time round as you get used to trusting the ropes and your partner.
Alex was a whizz and up the wall on a slightly more difficult route (the colours denote different routes up) in no time at all.
There are several different routes per wall, of which there are twelve at the Seyour Centre – so lots to try out. After a couple of turns each to build our confidence on the lower wall, and to get to know which types of rocks are best for gripping or just using with your feet, we moved over to the big wall. This is where I noticed how much more of a sport it was.
Michal gave us some great tips and advise to help us make it up the higher distance. A little trickier, and more strength and stamina involved, but we made it! It felt great to hit the top.
I did get a little stuck halfway up, where I couldn’t see a rock of the right colour to place a foot but did sort this quite quickly.
On the taller walls you do use a lot of strength and balance, from your legs to push you up, to your arms for reaching and pulling, your hands for gripping, and your core and balance to keep you close to the wall to avoid falling back (although the ropes would catch you). You use many more muscles than worked in other sports, such as football, and it’s apparently a great way to work you hands and tendons. After the tall wall, I started feeling this more prominently.
For the last 15 minutes, we got to try out the bouldering room! For those who don’t know the difference, rock climbing is usually on walls which tend to go straight up, or thereabouts (maybe a few parts which jut out), and include ropes, whilst bouldering is just you and the wall.
The walls therefore aren’t as high, and the bouldering room at Seymour has a squishy floor just in case you come off.
Again, there are numerous routes on different walls all around the room. Alex and I got to try a few different climbs.
The positions I got into to reach the next rock were hilarious when looking back. If climbing wasn’t a workout enough, bouldering took so much more out of me.
At reaching the top on my first climb, I didn’t know how to get down. Luckily Michal and Alex helped direct me with climbing down – it’s great to have a spotter!
Alex continued to show off (that’s what I call it, but he just likes to push himself!), challenging himself to the overhanging climb. He completed it almost like a pro. You could see how his muscles were working as he worked his way up.
When Michal asked if I was going to have a go, I couldn’t help but laugh. I didn’t think my upper body strength was up to the challenge, and I was right as I struggled with the next climb too. I’d well and truly knackered myself out.
At this point, time was up. Michal had done an awesome job introducing us to the climbing walls and bouldering room. Alex and I were still full of adrenaline as we left.
We had so much fun in the hour we spent climbing. We didn’t think we’d come away thinking of making it our new shared hobby. We’re definitely heading back to the Seymour Centre for climbing – now just to decide whether to do climbing or bouldering.
The Seyour Centre routinely changes the routes on all of the walls, so there are new routes for regular users, and there are several different package options as well as single session rates. You can find more info here.
Have you recently found a new hobby?
*I was invited along to try climbing a the Seymour Centre. All views my own. Can’t wait to go back!