Indoor Rock Climbing 101: Benefits, Attire, Tools, and More

rock climbing gym

Indoor Rock Climbing 101: Benefits, Attire, Tools, and More

You’re here because you have heard about one of the newest and most exciting physical exercise trends: indoor rock climbing. We’re glad you made it because we are here to field all of your questions on this fun exercise because you deserve to be thoroughly educated about it and reap all of the benefits.

Not only that, but you should know what to expect before you head to your very first class!

Without further ado, let’s talk about what a “rock climbing gym” is, the benefits of rock climbing, what you should wear, the tools used, and more!

What Is a Rock Climbing Gym?

A rock climbing gym, which also is commonly referred to as a climbing gym, is an indoor facility specifically designed for climbing rockfaces. The “rockfaces” are typically artificial rock walls of varying heights and difficulties. With your hands and feet (and various pieces of helpful gear), you can boulder, climb, and rope climb.

rock climbing gyms What Are Artificial Rock Walls Made of?

Artificial rock walls, which are commonly found in rock climbing gyms and other locations, can be made with various materials. A vast majority of these walls are thick multiplex boards that have holes drilled into them. Others are made of wood, aluminum, brick, or even steel.

Most climbing walls have climbing holds that look quite similar to rocks, but are typically (and more modernly) made with polyurethane resin or fiberglass. Climbing holds come in a vast array of sizes, shapes, and even colors.

What Are the Benefits of Rock Climbing?

Rock climbing, whether it be indoors or outdoors, is an extremely beneficial physical activity. Your body can reap an astounding amount of advantages from rock climbing, as it checks all the boxes:

  • Aerobic workout (as in it’s great for cardio and ultimately weight loss!)
  • Low-impact (great for your joint health)
  • Strengthens muscles: abs, glutes, arms, shoulders, back, chest, thighs, and calves
  • Builds physical and mental strength
  • Competitive
  • Fun and exciting
  • Fights the dreaded “workout boredom,” as it’s different every time, keeping you wanting more
  • Improve your flexibility (one of the most important yet undervalued parts of physical fitness)


There are other benefits that don’t quite fit into the list above, such as it’s a great exercise for beginners (but it does require at least a basic level of physical strength) and a strong sense of camaraderie with your instructors and peers (if you indulge in group classes).

It is worth noting, however, that those with specific health issues should consult their doctor first before trying rock climbing (or any other type of new exercise).

Who Can Rock Climb?

Yet another luxury about rock climbing is that it is perfect for people of nearly any age, whether they be children or adults! Most facilities ask that children be five years or older to join in on the fun. Therefore, children and adults can both certainly indulge in the sport (and it’s even recommended that they do!).

However, this is specifically contingent on the program you choose to join. For example, here at Reach Climbing & Fitness, we have several climbing programs like our private belay (imagine rock climbing with a rope and climbing to the top of the rockface) which accepts people of all ages while our lead class (a much more difficult belaying lesson) only accepts climbers 18 years or older.

What Should You Wear When Indoor Rock Climbing?

As you might have already guessed, you shouldn’t be wearing just anything when you are rock climbing indoors. If you wear certain inappropriate clothing items, you could even injure yourself!

When it comes to climbing specifically indoors, you should wear the following:

  • Your typical comfortable gym clothes (especially pants or shorts that are not too tight and not too baggy; they should be perfect for making comfortable and flexible movements)
  • Rock shoes (if you don’t have a pair of your own, you can rent one from your rock climbing gym)
  • Socks for exercise (if you are uncomfortable with wearing your rented rock shoes without socks, which they are specifically created for, you can wear a pair of socks)
  • Hair ties for long hair (you don’t want your hair getting in the way of your visibility or movements!)
  • A light jacket for exercise if you know your gym is somewhat cold

What Types of Indoor Rock Climbing Are There?

rock climbing gym

There are essentially three popular types of indoor rock climbing: bouldering, top climbing, and lead/sport climbing.

Bouldering doesn’t use ropes but, instead, a crash pad, which is a thick pad that catches climbers if they were to fall. The rock walls are typically no higher than 20 feet. Because of its minimal equipment, bouldering is often the beginning step for new climbers.

In top rope climbing, there is a rope that is both anchored at the top and belayed (the application of tension to a rope that shortens a fall). Top climbing is one of the most popular types of indoor rock climbing.

Lead or sport climbing is where a climber relies on fixed bolts that outline the predetermined route. As the climber ascends, he or she uses their clip to attach it and ultimately their harness to each bolt or quickdraw. This effectively saves them from falling, which is a greatly heightened possibility in this type of climbing– and the fall can often be farther.

What Tools Do You Use when Indoor Rock Climbing?

You should know that you will be using various supplies and tools in any climbing program that the facility will provide for you. Your climbing gym should provide you with the following pieces of equipment for rope climbing:

  • Rock shoes (mentioned earlier)
  • Belay device with locking carabiner
  • Harness
  • Chalk
  • Chalk bag
  • Climbing rope

As for indoor bouldering, you will require less gear to get the job done: just shoes, chalk, and a chalk bag. Be sure to ask your climbing gym for more information on their equipment so you are not without something you need!

Where Should You Go Indoor Rock Climbing in Bridgeport, PA?

If you are looking to try out an indoor rock climbing gym in the Philadelphia area, specifically Bridgeport, then join us here at Reach Climbing & Fitness! We have several programs to choose from, professional instructors, and sturdy equipment. Give us a call today to get started at 484-704-7612!

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