Tuesday, September 26, 2023

How to start climbing? The ultimate guide

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Rock climbing, this crazy idea has crossed your mind, but it seems complicated to organize and you don’t know if this sporting activity is for you. All our advice and tips for a good start in climbing.

What is bouldering?

Reminder of the facts: bouldering, a type of climbing that is practiced on low walls (less than 4.5 meters), either outdoors on natural rock blocks (as in Fontainebleau) or indoors, on artificial structures (the walls), equipped with sockets which mark out a course according to a chosen level. Indoors, we fall on thick carpets. To find out more read our article: “bouldering: what it is and how to practice it”

Indoor bouldering is an activity that has been developing for several years in the city. The practice is risk-free and the activity is suitable for all levels, regardless of physical constitution and age. Stop complexes, prejudices or fears of all kinds, and dare bouldering!

1. At what age can you start climbing?

Climbing activity and bouldering gyms are accessible from beginner to champion, regardless of constitution or ability. From 4 years old! And no age limit! You can start climbing at 30, 40 or 50, and much more!

There is no ideal profile type for climbing and no particular physical condition is required to practice. Climbing is really an activity accessible to all , and it is a good way to keep in shape!

Climbing is a complete sport that mobilizes cognitive, mental and physical capacities. You will find in the rooms blocks for all levels and all sports abilities. You progress by doing yourself good!

Beginner climber on the Climbing District climbing structure in Batignolles in Paris

2. Where to start climbing?

Beyond the climbing clubs which require you to be licensed and where the waiting list is sometimes long, you can practice freely in a certain number of private rooms.

In inner Paris and the inner suburbs, there are more than fifteen (read our article “Where to climb in Paris”. You will easily find “shoes at your feet”, a room near you, in your neighborhood or your office.

Test the rooms!

Each has its own style, atmosphere, friendly staff, cozy or train station halls. Climbing District also offers co-working spaces and a social club with a cutting-edge cultural program to have a good time with friends or excite your curiosity.

Finally, if going into a sweat factory, seeing lines of gear and body-sculpted guys/girls/X gives you pimples, come meet us! It’s another world at Climbing District. We offer you places to live, where you feel good. We can climb, but not only! Take a break over a drink or a few seasonal dishes, help each other, relax, meet new people, work, …

3. How do I access a bouldering room?

Very easy ! No need to book , access open to all from 4 years old (with the valid health/vaccination pass according to the rules in force). It’s like at the cinema: you buy an entry, valid all day or several by card or subscription (entries valid in all the rooms of the network at Climbing District).

Some rooms have extra-wide opening hours (from 7 a.m. to midnight on weekdays and from 8 a.m. to midnight on weekends at Climbing District). In short, no excuse not to come, before, during or after work or at the end of the evening!

On the price side , the price of a cinema ticket also: it varies from 8 to 16 euros, depending on the hours or your profile (student offer, duo offers, etc.). Be smart and target happy hours if you’re flexible with your schedule. There will be fewer people!

You can also take advantage of booklets of 10 entries or subscriptions with or without commitment at advantageous prices. Visit our rates page to find out more and book online. Note that at Climbing District everything is included! Notebooks and subscriptions give you the opportunity to practice in addition to climbing, all the disciplines offered: Hatha Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Pilates, muscle strengthening, etc. at no additional cost. Also take advantage of the free classes offered by Climbing District during the week.

Beginner climbing offer - Climbing District

4. What equipment to start climbing?

In bouldering, you climb light! Again, no stress or expensive investment. Bouldering is practiced without specific equipment  : no harness, helmet or ropes, as required for outdoor climbing. We told you that it was easy to start climbing!

No specific outfit:

    • Except climbing shoes , which you can rent (for a few euros) at your shoe size at the reception of the room. The slipper is worn adjusted to have the best feeling on the grip, a bit like ballet flats for dancers. But no question of suffering when you start. You have to be very comfortable. Ask to change size if you really don’t feel well.
  • On the outfit side , take out your best leggings if you want, but everything does the trick.
    • For the bottom:  sports shorts, leggings, jogging or soft pants.
    • For the top: t-shirt tight or not etc…

Shirtless is just not an option. Flexible, comfortable, “fearless” and slightly covering outfits: some scratches may occur on the somewhat rough block walls. In short, come as you are when you play sports!

A cloakroom allows you to change and leave your bag in lockers (bring your padlock). Chalk, the powder or liquid you see savvy climbers rub their hands on to help grip hands grip, is not necessary for beginners. You can buy some at the reception, if you need it.

How to start bouldering? Not even afraid !

Wondering how to climb a boulder? Here are some tips for bouldering beginners.

5. How to make a block?

A block is a set of holds of the same color on the climbing wall, which constitutes the route to be taken. Climbing a block means performing a short sequence of movements that require power, strength and dynamics. Indoors, we fall on thick carpets.

Each block has a color code according to its level of difficulty (the code is displayed in the room). To start, choose the yellow then orange blocks (already average level).

To make a block, the rules of the game are simple:

    • To start the boulder : the feet and hands are placed on the holds indicated by the scotches of the color of the boulder. For example, on an orange block, you will find 2 scotch tapes indicating the foot grips and 2 scotch tapes indicating the hand grips. If, however, a tape is missing, this is completely normal, this indicates that one of the feet or a hand may or may not be leaning on the wall.
    • Progression : a block can only be climbed on one color. As you progress, you can use all the grips in the color of your block, the wall and all the wooden or gray “volumes” fixed to the structure. The areas that you are not allowed to touch are marked with black tape.
    • To get off the block : Grips of all colors as well as gray handles are available. Descend as low as possible, then, after checking that no one is below you, drop down onto the mats.

Falling is a learned gesture, essential for climbing in safety, as well as for progress. In the event of a fall, do not try to catch yourself or absorb the impact with your hands or arms. The goal is to land on your feet and roll backwards on your buttocks.

Antoine Girard Climbing District Canal Saint Martin 55, rue de Meaux 75019 Paris

6. The basic principles and techniques of bouldering

before climbing
  • Knowing how to warm up: do not launch yourself on a wall without a minimum of warming up to avoid injuries.
    • Roll over the joints that are going to be the most stressed with your hands, fingers, wrists, arms, hips and shoulders. Warm up your knees, feet and ankles before climbing.
    • Always start with easy boulders/routes, known as the “warm-up” route, to bring your body up to temperature, warm up the muscles and avoid the risk of tearing.
  • Make your mark on the landing mat at the foot of the wall. The big mat is soft, of course, but your ankles don’t have the same stability there as on hard ground.
    • A little exercise to get your body and brain used to this new environment: climb on the small holds at ground level and jump several times on the mat.
  • Choose a “yellow” block to learn the basic moves
    • First an easy yellow block, where you climb in height in a logical way, like on a ladder, without questioning your gestures.
    • Then a yellow block where we begin to have a mini ”  problem to solve ” (this is what we call the fact of looking for the optimal sequence of movements on a given block, as imagined by the opener, the designer of the block, and which is optimal for oneself).
To climb
  • It’s all about the legs! We don’t pull on the arms! We push on the legs, the feet make you climb, before the arms. All the muscles are solicited. When you are a beginner, the arms are mainly used for balance and to navigate the track.
    • Consider climbing with your toes , to give you the most options in your foot positions. You don’t crush the hold with your foot. The foot has a subtle anatomy, you will discover it by progressing all the facets and the potential for climbing.
    • It is when you go up in level that you then use the muscular strength in your arms, which you have to know how to manage. Otherwise we quickly catch the famous “bottles” in the forearms (the rise of lactic acid), which create intense pain, harden the arms and prevent pulling on them.

The main thing is to constantly manage your effort. We push on the legs, we “mix” regularly (we stay in grip on one arm and we shake the other) to relax the muscles and evacuate the lactic acid which makes them hard and inoperative.

  • Finding the right balance and body posture throughout the route
    • We look at the angle of the grips in relation to the layout of the block as a whole, so that his body is never in difficulty.
    • We always rest on 3 points (1 arm, 2 legs; 2 arms, 1 leg) to ensure maximum stability.
    • We are constantly looking for balance by using our muscles but also our own body weight and taking advantage of the natural effects of counterweight to save our strength.
    • The challenge is to find the “right” position , to play with the pendulum and counterweight effects to succeed in the block with the least effort possible while saving energy.

You can also climb in “nag” mode, but climbing, like dancing, favors the aesthetics of movement, its flexibility, its agility and its strength. Do not hesitate to ask your new climbing friends for advice on the best path to follow or the position.

  • Grip outfit

Side hands, same fight: we do not force!

    • Have your fingernails trimmed.
    • Do not squeeze the grips hard, you have to find the right position each time that saves force.
    • You have to know how to “crochet”, put the right finger held by the thumb, to hold.
    • And never forget that the strongest fingers on the grip outfit are the middle and ring fingers because they are in the natural axis of the arm
Book of 10 summer price entries - Climbing District - escalade Paris

7. Can I hurt myself while bouldering?

Bouldering is a sport in which you start gently, according to your own pace and physical limits. We get pleasure very quickly, from the first sessions!

It’s a complete sport  that will make you discover unsuspected muscles of your body! We work the entire muscle chain, like a dancer. And we strengthen the deep muscles, like in yoga or Pilates.

The bouldering environment does not involve major risks, but be aware of the safety instructions. As with any sport, it is important to know yourself, and to follow the advice for practicing climbing, beyond the basic techniques:

  • Hydration is essential to allow the body to recover and avoid cramps. We consume a lot of water when we climb. Drink regularly. Bring a small water bottle. There are also water fountains at Climbing District.
  • Rest between “trials” (attempts to boulder). No need when you are a beginner to try to chain the blocks “in machine gun”! It’s wiser to do fewer tries, with a more rested body. Bouldering consumes a lot of energy in a very intense way. You have to know how to manage that.
  • Warm up (see 6.)
  • Sweaty hands and use of chalk : if your hands tend to sweat, you can use liquid chalk (on sale at reception) to dry your hands. This allows for better gripping ability.
  • Blisters and sores  : as a preventive measure (or protection), you can use “strap” (heavy plaster) wrapped around the fingers. A beginner can make “steaks”, big blisters on the fingers (due to the fact of tightening the grips too hard!). When you are more experienced, you manage to avoid this kind of small inconvenience. Pay attention to the ankles and shoulders: the key is warming up and learning to fall.
  • If listening to your body will allow you to avoid tendinitis and injuries, follow the safety instructions carefully for risk-free climbing.

9. How to progress in climbing? With the collective!

The magic of climbing is that you progress at your own pace, with your own performance goals. And we can progress very quickly! Above all, it is an individual as well as a collective practice .

You will discover the spirit of climbing , this spontaneous mutual aid between climbers, whatever their levels, to advise you or find together “the solution to the problem”, namely the right “path” to reach the top (summit) of the block ! Discover the community at the foot of the wall!

And if you want to start safely, and have the right instructions and the right climbing gestures, we offer 1-hour discovery climbing lessons to learn the basic techniques (how to climb, position yourself on the block , know how to fall, be autonomous).

That’s it, you can start climbing!

You just have to take the first step, you’ll see, when you taste climbing, you come back to it!

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