I’m not a fan of the gym. I actually sort of despise it a little bit. My life is a monotonous cycle of getting a gym membership, going a few times and then cancelling said membership. I’m much more of a fan of finding something exciting and a little bit more adrenaline boosting than sweating my bum off on a cross trainer or rowing machine. So when I was invited along to try out some rock climbing at with Everyone Active at Westway Sports and Fitness centre I was automatically far more excited than the thought of heading to my local gym, although a little apprehensive of the thought of dangling several metres high and getting stuck in mid air…
Everyone Active is a Nationwide Leisure management company who focus on encouraging healthy lifestyles and increasing the physical activity of local communities and far beyond. They have a whole host of activities for people to get involved in and have a try of, these include swimming, dance, outdoor sports and of course CLIMBING! They are involved with a number of centres all over the UK and for our climbing session we headed to Westway Sports and Fitness centre which is located near to Latimer Road Station in West London.
We began by getting changed into our climbing gear (standard leggings and a tshirt – the great thing is that you don’t need any specialist equipment), you can decide whether to keep your own trainers for climbing or you’re welcome to use the climbing shoes that the centre have, these are super tight so that they seem more like a second skin and make it easier to coerce your feet into some of the smaller grooves on the climbing wall.
After this we were taken to collect our harnesses that we were to wear for the entirety of the rock climbing (safety first). I’ve worn a couple of harnesses in my time and remember them being the most uncomfortable thing in the world, but for some reason this harness felt absolutely fine… sadly still didn’t manage to make my bum look like Beyoncé’s though.
Then it was time to begin our climbing class! There were 4 of us in total and we had a lovely instructor who took us through all of the fundamental rules to ensure we would have a safe session. We then got stuck in! Being the wimp that I am, I refused to go first (also I like to see how far other people go and then just go that teeny tiniest bit further so I look like I’m amazing) and so my friend Abbie took to the wall whilst I threaded her rope through and made sure she didn’t come catapulting to the floor at full speed.
I liked the way that we were just made to get on with our climbing adventure. There was no pressure to go super high but they weren’t afraid to let you find your way up the wall at your own speed and this made me feel far more comfortable than i would’ve had it been more structured and regimented.
I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get very high up the wall as I have very little balance and my upper body strength is basically zero, so I completely surprised myself when I made it up the first wall! There are different coloured routes that you follow on each wall and each is a different difficulty. These routes also get changed regularly so you’ll never find yourself getting bored of climbing the same wall over and over again.
There are a total of around 350 climbing routes reach up to 13.5m with 110 lines to connect with, which means even if it’s crazy busy you most likely won’t have to wait to get on the wall. We had a go at a couple of different walls of varying difficulty which was great to get us in the swing of things. However, if you do want to continue to climb without an instructor you will have to complete a 6 hour course in which you learn all of the rules and techniques to be able to climb alone (well, in a pair) safely. You can find out more about this on the website.
After climbing a scaling a few of the walls our beginners climbing session was almost at an end (it went incredibly fast) and we headed upstairs to try some bouldering, which is like climbing but without no harness or ropes and so you don’t go as high as you would when attached to a line. This is a great way to practice technique and gear up for more challenging walls and you can also head here to boulder without having to complete the competency course, so if you’re up for a day of climbing then this could be the place for you!
I really enjoyed my first experience of climbing and would love to make it a regular thing, my arms and thighs killed the next day so it must’ve been a good work out for my body and it was great to try something new and to get my heart pumping! For more information regarding climbing or other activities that Everyone Active offer you should visit their website!