The Ballroom Climbing Wall opened in the centre of Coventry last month and I had been following the build up to the opening on their Facebook page. Although I have never climbed before, I wanted to give it a go, as it is such a good facility to have in Coventry. I also thought it would be good cross training for mountain biking – I’ve noticed that some top pros, like Rachel Atherton and Aaron Gwin include climbing in their training.
I went for one of their group introduction sessions, as I am a total beginner. I was with in a group two young kids and half expected them to pick it up really quickly and embarrass me, fortunately being a bit taller and having decent upper body strength helped. Our instructor Frances did well in balancing the different needs of the group, explaining the flow of the routes and how to visualise them before climbing. This was important as I moved up from the very basic routes (only to the next level, 1 on a 0 to 9 scale with 9 being the hardest). I wasn’t expecting the thinking element, I thought climbing would be all about strength and flexibility. I also underestimated just how much of a work out it would be! My arms were really starting to ache after an hour, I could have stayed for longer, but was conscious that I needed to leave something in the tank to cycle home.
The type of climbing is called bouldering, it is a simple form of climbing as there are no ropes! The top of the wall is only 4.5m high and the floor is a big crash mat, so falling isn’t a problem. Falling properly was one of the first things we were taught, as well as not to stand behind/under people climbing, as they could fall at any moment. Not all of the routes went up either, there are a couple of horizontal routes, which took me a bit for thinking to fathom out. Each route probably only took me a few minutes, but my body felt like it was much longer, it is a pretty intense workout!
I’ll certainly be going back to The Ballroom, as I think climbing will be a good addition to my training, which is currently mostly cycling, with the occasional swim. As The Ballroom is open until 22:00 during the week, and indoors, it will be particularly good in the winter, when it is too dark and muddy to get out on the mountain bike. It also seems to be a social sport, so I will be trying to get some of my friends to join me there.