The number of climbing gyms in North America has exploded since Seattle's Vertical World opened in 1987. As indoor climbing grew in popularity, gyms went from flat brick walls in drafty warehouses, to world class training gyms that offer intricate climbing walls, weights, aerobic equipment, yoga, and more. If you aren't a climber but love the outdoors, there's never been a better time to trade in your traditional gym for a climbing gym membership.
A session at the climbing gym provides a fun and complete full body workout. If you usually enjoy sports like running, hiking, biking, or weight lifting the repetitive nature of these activities can leave your muscles unbalanced. Climbing is a very dynamic activity with each route providing novel challenges that engage every major and minor muscle group as you work your way to the top. Best of all, muscles you didn't now you had will be sore the next day without the boredom of lifting weights.
Climbing is fun. As children climbing is something we naturally did for fun anytime we found a trees or playground. Going to an indoor climbing gym is basically a big playground for adults. Climbing can also provide an endorphin rush that a treadmill and free weights can't match. According to WebMD activities that release endorphins can trigger a pleasant feeling in the body, reduces stress, boosts self-esteem, and improve sleep.
All you will need to get started indoor climbing is a harness, a pair of climbing shoes, and a chalk bag. If you look for deals you can easily find these items new for less than $100 online. Monthy climbing gym memberships can cost $60 and up depending on where you live and the gym's facilities. And most gyms offer drop in rates and rental equipment if you want to try a few local gyms before committing to a monthly membership or investing in gear.
The great thing about rock climbing is there are no complicated rules to learn. Aside from basic safety techniques, you can get to the top anyway you like. Gyms have beginner-friendly routes that will allow you have fun on your first visit, and as your strength and technique improve you can attempt increasingly difficult routes and bouldering problems.
Pro-Tip: Gyms also offer classes if you would like help jump-starting your climbing journey.
A membership at a climbing gym is a great way to make friends and meet new people. The climbing community is generally very friendly and willing to share tips and advice with new climbers. Climbers also share a common passion for the great outdoors so you will instantly have things in common with everyone you meet. And there is plenty of time to chat while waiting or resting between climbs.
Chances are there is a climbing gym near you. And if you live in a larger city there are probably several. If you need to find an indoor climbing gym head over to Mountain Project's list of the 936 Climbing Gyms in North America. Their directory allows you to easily search by state or province.