I have finally started visiting a bouldering gym, The Refuge Climbing & Fitness, on a regular basis. I didn’t think I would like climbing at a bouldering gym, but I’ve had a change of heart.
Here’s why I thought I’d hate the bouldering gym and why I now think it’s a super cool place:
The walls are high and there aren’t any ropes with a belayer to catch me.
I am intimidated by the height of the walls.
The fix: If I don’t feel comfy with my climbing skills at that moment I just climb down. I try not to sketch myself out, although it has happened. I’ve definitely had my cat stuck in the tree moments at the gym. But that’s just me not being careful, and I need to be mindful of that.
Also, one of the great things about not having ropes, is that climbers can’t hang out at the routes trying to figure out a problem. I have yet to see anyone hang on to a hold, sketchy or solid, for 15-30 minutes trying to figure out their next move. People peel off the wall at this gym and have to rest before they give the routes they are working on a try again. So that means I can bounce around the gym and continually climb without any wait-my-turn time.
It’s not exactly traverse friendly and bouldering is super hard.
In the past, I loved traversing the walls at the regular climbing gym. I would just climb back and forth rather than up and down for hours. I got so strong and it was a calming and stress relieving practice. The walls at the bouldering gym, however, aren’t what I consider traversing friendly. It can be done, but it’s rough.
Luckily, the folks at the gym have set a ton of moderate routes. The ratings aren’t really comparable to outside climbing, but I am not trying to become a better boulderer. I want to build up my strength and have fun climbing in general. So instead of traversing, I just go up and down as many blue, white, and brown routes as I can in about an hour. I totally wipe myself out doing this, and am rewarded with a rush of endorphins. It’s so good.
There are even more features of the gym that make it nice to visit. The padding on the floor around the climbing walls is thick and cushiony. When one does take a bit of a fall, the floor kindly absorbs much of the force of the impact. The AC and fans do a great job of keeping the gym cool. I often see people using the variety of exercise equipment in the gym (i.e. treadmill, weights, etc.). There is a changing room and a shower for people who are hopping from place to place during the day. It’s also a gym that offers classes for kids through adults. Whenever I see these groups getting their learn on, they look like they are having fun and trying out lots of helpful climbing techniques.
After much procrastination, I finally made it into the bouldering gym, and I’m so glad that I did it. I love that it’s a climbing gym that allows folks to climb at whatever level they like and has enough space for everyone to keep busy working routes. It’s air conditioned and the people are nice. If I keep at it, my muscles will definitely make a comeback. Yay!