So I’m surprised it took me this look to seek out sport climbing as a potential hobby.   The whole concept, the whole idea of climbing really appeals to me.   I have a very healthy fear of high places, but I really like the idea of adventurous workouts and sport climbing is supposedly as good as it gets.    I think what mainly kept me from climbing was I never knew how to get started or where to go.    I don’t think climbing is one of those hobbies where it’s advisable that you just go out and start trying all by yourself.   So when I recently heard about a place called Sportrock, I decided to check it out.

I went to their website and saw that one of their two locations happens to be right down the street from one of my clients in Alexandria.   I decided to head over there last week during my lunch to check out the place and talk about how a guy like me, who has no idea how to climb at all, can get started without hurting himself.

I walked around the facility and gave myself a tour of the place.  They had numerous climbing and bouldering walls ranging from 10 to about 50 ft in the air.  In addition, they have a small workout area with treadmills, weight and machines/devices that looked designed specifically for climbers.  It looked like a place I could see myself spending some time at.

After I was done walking around I went back to the front desk where the helpful folks there recommend I check out their basic skills class.  It’s only $25, takes two hours and when you’re done you’ll have all the knowledge one would need to pass their belay test and safely climb in their gym.  In addition, you also get a coupon good for $10 off your next visit.  Seemed like a deal to me.  So when I got back to the office I went back on the website and signed me and the fiancee up for a class on Sunday.

When Sunday rolled around the fiancee and I put on some workout clothes.  Oddly, I couldn’t find any recommendations on SportRock’s website on what to wear to their beginner classes.  I think if anyone there is reading this, it’s something you should consider.

Anywho, we get to the gym right before the start of class, fill out our waivers, get our rental shoes (it’s recommended you wear special climbing shoes) and we’re off.

The instructor, I think his name was Joe, was great.  He was very knowledgeable without being condescending,  and he took the time to make sure everyone in our class of 7 people understood the safety concepts of sport climbing.

We spent most of the two hours learning about how to safely belay including knots, belay devices and proper belay procedures.   By the end I felt confident enough in the class to let a 100lb middle school girl in our class belay me down a 30ft wall!

I took some time after class to climb a little more including some time on the bouldering wall (shorter wall that doesn’t require ropes or a partner).   I was having a great time but had to cut it short so we could get to the Lost Dog Adoption event (and it’s a good thing we did, or else we may not have ended up with this guy!)

So did I like it?  Well, I enjoyed it enough that I’m going back tonight to take my belay test so I can climb with a buddy of mine.  I’m going to try it a few more times before I’m convinced but I think I may have found myself yet another hobby!

Looking like I totally got this under control

And I'm about to fall. Good thing I'm only 5ft off the ground!

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