I'm thinking of taking up bouldering just for fitness. Do I need to take a course? Is there any particular equipment I need? What should I wear? Being almost middle aged, if I fall off will I break something? Is it worth taking it up?
Thanks in advance!
Thanks in advance!
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I'd also go straight to climbing - do a course at your local wall. imo too much bouldering is down to strength, you may find climbing better as a starter.
Most climbing centres will just ask you to sign a disclaimer to boulder, some will ask you a few questions based on common sense and being careful around other climbers.
If you have a local climbing centre that will be the one you go to all the time, then maybe worth doing an introductory session mainly to meet some of the staff, get a tour of the building and facilities and glean some knowledge but this will depend hugely on whoever your session host is on the day. I’ve done loads of these sessions now as I’ve climbed up and down the country and some have been pro climbers, others just seasonal staff so the experience will vary.
Unless you happen to be immediately brilliant, then the routes you’ll be aiming to complete will be relatively obvious and not really much harder than climbing a steep ladder and you won’t need instruction in the first instance.
Hire shoes to begin with. Most places will throw a pair in with your first session and buying shoes is expensive and complex as it will depend on your feet shape and what shape shoe you want, so leave this until you’re sure you’re going to carry on.
Really you can wear anything to boulder. Some people wear next to nothing, some people boulder in jeans and a shirt. To begin with though start with a loose T-shirt and joggers or shorts. Gym wear basically.
In the first instance I wouldn’t even waste money on chalk unless you get sweaty hands. It makes very little difference on beginner routes and is just something else to think about when you don’t need the distraction.
The hardness of the mats you drop onto will depend on their newness. Most will be well worn in and nice and soft, newer mats are a little firmer.
I had quite a serious calf tear at the end of last year which I sustained trying to do a highly dynamic move and have since learned my lesson about warming up and doing regular stretching outside of my climbing days coupled with a bit of yoga (but I’m taking it quite seriously now so this is entirely optional). So injuries do happen but outside of my calf the only injuries have been a few scrapes and grazes and the occasional sore finger tendons when you over extend.
It’s brilliant fun and has been amazing for my physique, fitness and general get up and go. Once you’ve done some bouldering you can look at auto belay which is climbing in a harness using a “rope” which is attached to a mechanism on the roof of a wall which lowers you down automatically once you let go of the climbing holds and is great fun and a different challenge to bouldering and allows you to climb longer routes without a partner (and classical belay knowledge).
If you want any more help, give me a shout either here or on PM
I bouldered and climb as a teen and then stopped but restarted recently as it compliments other training that I do.
The first session will be an eye opener, the next few days after will be even more so
Don't get carried away, stick simple for a while and get comfortable, work on being safe and don't go throwing yourself around into complex routes.
My local centre is a pure bouldering gym as it's not high but I have climbing centres with auto belays (so you don't need a buddy) within a short drive.
I would love to get back into both wet & dry bouldering again, but for me I would have too far to travel now.
Wet bouldering you would need equipment - though you can hire it from most venues.
Dry bouldering can be done without any equipment, however I would recommend a good pair of trainers. You can make it as basic or complicated as you want and it is best to go bouldering in a group.
Though most would argue once you introduce hardware or safety equipment it's no longer considered bouldering - that would be rock climbing! Bouldering is no longer bouldering if you climb more than a few meters. Once you introduce a rope I would consider that rope climbing, not bouldering.
Belaying isn't really part of bouldering - that's considered a rock climbing discipline.
The only negative thing I gained from it was large muscles to the point I have to stop wearing shirts - I developed "Popeye" muscles and large neck muscles (I take a 21" in the collar still!) (edited)
While you can/ will hire shoes for your first few lessons, actually buying your own pair will be a very early purchase. A chalk ball and bag will be very close behind (not loose chalk as all climbing/bouldering places I've been to don't allow it).
Scrapes and knocks will be inevitable, as already mentioned loose fitting long trousers are essential (I tried shorts once as I thought it would be effective, my knees soon told me why no-one else was climbing in shorts!!).
And lastly, be prepared for it to be the most intense training session you'll ever have!! I got far fitter from climbing than I ever could from the gym. DOMS was pretty much standard every week, and I could only manage one session a week.
Would recommend long sleeve top and trousers to prevent scraping yourself up.
You need to hire climbing shoes which they will have.
I have seen a lot of people jump from the top of the wall and have been fine but they used proper technique to land.
There is lots of "easy" beginner routes to get going with nice big hand grips and foot grips
You will be fine go along and have a go,it is fun