It may seem daunting to get started in rock climbing, but it’s not! When you pick the right rock climbing gym, you’ll find a supportive community and staff who will help to get you started and who want you to succeed. You don’t have to be intimidated to walk into a gym, especially once you’re prepared with these pre-climbing tips.
Finding a Gym
Look for a rock climbing gym in your area. As a first-timer, your gym should give you a safety course before you start to go over climbing basics and the equipment. You’ll learn how to tie the necessary knots, do safety checks, belay another climber, and some of the basic commands that belayers and climbers use to communicate.
To belay is to hold the rope that is tied to a climber’s harness, it will help the climber to descend the wall slowly and will catch the climber if they fall. If you bring a friend and you’re both over the age of 14, you may be able to belay each other.
What Do You Wear to Rock Climb?
Would you work out in it? Then you can probably wear it to go rock climbing. Look for a comfortable outfit that you can move in – you’ll be stretching to reach for rocks, and sometimes it may feel like your limbs are more spread out than they would be in a game of Twister. Climbing can also get sweaty, so skip the thick sweatpants.
While your gym is likely air-conditioned, you’ll want to be comfortable once you start sweating. You can rent special rock climbing shoes from your gym, climbing shoes have thin soles and provide extra grip to help you climb. They are optional though, you can also wear comfortable running shoes.
What to Eat Before Rock Climbing
Rock climbing requires a lot of energy, so you’ll want to eat some carbs so you have fuel to burn. Eat some easy-to-digest carbohydrates before you go; a bowl of oatmeal would make an ideal breakfast. You’ll also need to stay hydrated, so drink water before you go and bring a water bottle or sports drink with you.
Don’t Get Intimidated
Remember that everyone in the gym was once a beginner. Though there is such a thing as competitive rock climbing, no one is going to try to run you off of the wall. It’s a pretty supportive sport: your belayer may try to help coach you if you can’t find your next hold, and they are literally supporting you if you fall.
The gym should have beginner routes; look for any walls rated 5.5, 5.6, or 5.7 as these are good for beginners. The holds (a.k.a. faux rocks) that you start on will usually be marked with tape – there are no tricks here, the route-makers are looking out for you! Just stretch well, take a deep breath, and take the wall one hold at a time. So find your gym, put on your comfy workout clothes, eat some carbs, hydrate, and relax: you can do this!