By its very nature climbing is a simple sport. No matter the climber’s age or ability they are often, if not always, trying their hardest to climb their best.
As the climber and the difficulty of the climbs progress the holds get smaller and the footholds worse, however, no matter the size, everyone in the family or group of friends are always trying their best and overcoming their own individual challenges.
Climbing is a sport where often you are only competing against yourself, this type of sport, therefore, lends itself perfectly to any group of friends or family of various generations wanting to get fitter, enjoy the same activity, while spending more time together.
Any parent aspiring to become a climber finds themselves on a level footing with their whole family even if it there first visit the indoor climbing wall. I cannot think of another sport similar to that.
No matter how old the family members are or how big the gaps, starting to climb indoors is the best activity to bring all the family together.
How can I start climbing with my children
All of the climbing centres in Bristol have ways for you and your children to start indoor climbing safely. There are 2 main ways in which you can get your children involved in indoor climbing that all of the centres adopt if one way or another.
The children can join one of the indoor climbing clubs or sessions
You sign them up for one of the many climbing courses or clubs that the climber’s centres have to offer, these climbing sessions are always fully instructed and are similar to a rugby or gymnastic club. The sessions can be a ‘one-off’ or one of the regular sessions (depending on the centre).
During these sessions, the children are often taught one of the many climbing skills along with balance, agility and coordination, while also of courses, keeping the climbing sessions fun and safe, hopefully inspiring them for life (For full information visit the climbing centre websites found at the bottom of the article).
Bristol has some of the best freelance climbing coaches and instructors in the UK and the indoor climbing walls all use them regularly. It would be hard to say which wall has the best sessions for children, the best bet is to try them all out to find which one suits your needs more.
The parent or adult becomes the registered member
An adult can gain the skills required to join an indoor climbing centre either through an experienced friend or by one of the climbing centre Induction sessions or beginner classes.
The over 18’s then becomes a ‘member’ (on successful completion); as a member, they are then allowed (at time of writing) to bring along two guests of any age and any skill and take responsibility for them during their time in the climbing centre.
Each climbing centre in Bristol allows up to 2 guests, any more that than and you step into group territory and would be required to book an instructor.
Gaining the experience through a friend
As I have mentioned a member each climbing centre allows a member to sign in 2 guests, that also applies for adults, if an adult came as a guest (to Bloc as an example) for a minimum of 10 hours then they would reach the requirements to register themselves and so take on the ability to sign in their own 2 guests. It is them the member job to educate and supervise the guests.
Learn to climb at an indoor climbing centre
As you might imagine the ‘roped’ climbing centres have a higher barrier to entry as belaying and other ropes and PPE skills are required for a safe climbing session. Both of the roped climbing centres, Undercover Rock and Redpoint have adult beginner courses that vary in length from 4 hours to 8hrs and are often split over a few days. For more info on these indoor climbing, courses visit their respective website www.undercover-rock.com and www.redpointbristol.co.uk
The bouldering inductions (beginner courses) vary between the two bouldering centres, The Climbing Academy Bristol allows you to watch a video to gain the level of experience to meet the requirements of their registration while Bloc requires that you complete an Induction session with a climbing coach for a minimum of 15 minutes (anytime).
Many parents take both approaches
Many parents wanting to start climbing arrange a mixture of both of the options above. The benefit of the Adult being the members is that you are free to use the climbing centres as you wish. During school holidays and wet weekends you would have a perfect activity for you and 2 (normally the maximum) children or friends.
One of large benefits of your child or children joining one of the climbing clubs or sessions, of course, that your are free to do as you wish, often it is not a requirement to stay on site during the session, leaving you can catch up on that book or grab yourself a coffee.
All of the groups and clubs run by the sessions are fully instructed, all the centres have fantastic coaches and instructors and often you may see the same instructors working at different indoor climbing centres in Bristol, so you know they have a wide level of experience and are in the industry for life.
Learning what needs to be learnt to become a member along with signing you child or children up to a class mean gives you a lot more freedom during those long school holidays or rainy Christmas months, perhaps also you child can pass on some of the skills they have learnt to you.
Why start climbing indoors with your children
Indoor climbing with you child or children is the best sport I know of, it allows by it’s very nature you both to climbing together, in the very same area and try with as much effort as each other. All the hard climbs, the easy climbs and the children climbs are mixed together, there is now adult area. This means that you take it turns to literally climb the same bit of wall (albeit a different colour climb) and have the same fun experience. It’s fantastic, it always bring a smile to my face to see parents and children climbing together, especially if the child is beating the parent!
So don’t wait, give an indoor climbing centre a call and get you and your family climbing. Check out a previous article on the indoor climbing centres in Bristol which summarises the difference and what I view are each their best qualities.
Or if you would like a private Bouldering Induction session or would like to learn how to climb with ropes with me or one of my coaches please contact me here to find out when the next class is available.
Undercover-rock – The Climbing Academy – Redpoint Bristol – Bloc climbing centre