Going climbing or bouldering indoor for the first time can be a little unnerving, especially if you don’t know what to expect! Here are a few tips that might help.

smileyWear comfortable clothing. Whatever you would be happy to wear for the gym is normally pretty good for indoor climbing. Tracksuit bottoms/yoga pants/leggings are good because they are tight at the ankle and won’t catch on holds. As it’s generally always cold here in the UK, I found layering tops handy so you can take them off as you warm up.

Trim your nails. There is nothing worse than catching your fingernail on a hold! Also, specific shoes are worn for climbing that help you get friction on the holds, they are uncomfortable but not painful. Trimming your toe nails is a good idea too, and also bring socks if you’re wearing rentals.

Warm up. As in any sport, warming up is very important. At first I’d feel a little self conscious trying to warm up by climbing set problems, so I like to traverse (climbing across the walls using any holds) if the gym is quiet enough. If not, normal cardio exercises like skipping followed by stretches are also a good way to start.

Just go for it. Start on something you feel comfortable with, and feels achievable. It might be scary, but the more you relax the easier it is, and the less likely you are to hurt yourself. I still hold my breathe on climbs, which doesn’t help anything! Breathing is what keeps us alive after all, so don’t deprive your body of oxygen. Sometimes it’s good to sing a song in your head as you climb, or think ‘foot, foot, hand’, and focus on the foot movement.

Have fun. Enjoy the climb, whether it’s getting higher up than you’ve been before, playing games on the walls with friends, or reaching the last hold in a problem. Take satisfaction in the progress and achievements you attain!

– A Girl Who Climbs