The pain in my arms and shoulders the next morning tipped me off to the fact that a couple hours spent at Brooklyn Boulders in Somerville, Massachusetts was quite the workout. I had wanted to try the indoor rock climbing gym in Brooklyn forever, and I had no idea that they also had a location just outside of Boston. A cold and rainy Sunday afternoon provided the perfect opportunity to use an online deal for Brooklyn Boulders, so I signed up for a class.
While the ropes courses seemed like fun, I decided to dip my toes into the world of climbing by signing up for the more affordable Learn to Boulder class. With the deal, it was only $20 (normally $45) including shoe rentals.
As we waited for the teacher to join us, I watched people scale the nearby walls with relative ease. Doesn’t look too hard, I thought to myself. I almost regretted signing up for a class, since it looked like I could probably figure this out on my own.
Fast forward to 20 minutes later, as I actually attempt my first climb and realize that I was dead wrong. While experienced climbers make bouldering look easy, it’s actually pretty difficult and requires a lot of background if you’re going to do it right.
First of all, there are different kinds of hand and footholds on the wall. Our instructor explained each one to us, offering tips on the best ways to grip them along with body positions that would make our next move easier.
Climbing up a wall isn’t as simple as grabbing onto the grips and pulling yourself up. While you can do that (it’s called “Rainbowing”), following a predetermined route is the best way to actually test your abilities. Routes are labelled with different color tape, and the first hand grip denotes how difficult each one is. V0 is the easiest, and it goes up to V1, V2, V3, etc.
I was only able to make it to the top on the V0 routes, though I attempted a few V1s and V2s. A more experienced member gave me a good tip when she saw I was having trouble: use your toes to dig in and grip instead of the flat part of your foot.
The friendly, community vibes at Brooklyn Boulders seemed awesome, and if I lived nearby I would definitely consider becoming a member. The gym doesn’t only offer rock climbing; they also have yoga classes, a weight room, cardio machines and a coworking space with free wifi. A few hours of blogging with a couple climbing breaks in between? Sounds like a good plan to me.
Learning a new skill and challenging my body to do something I hadn’t tried before was fun, although I definitely felt sore the next day. I’m envious of the experienced people who seemed to flit up and down the walls without a second thought. While I dangled awkwardly in the middle of the wall, trying to figure out where to put my hand next while feeling slight terror about the fact that I was so far from the ground, they were gliding gracefully through the most difficult courses. I have a huge amount of respect for them, as it must have taken many hours of practice to get to that point!
Brooklyn Boulders also offers more advanced classes that go further into body positioning and core strength required for bouldering. I might try one of those next time so I can at least conquer a V1! Has anyone else tried bouldering? Would love to hear if you thought it was just as difficult as I did.
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