No matter which city or town you are in sometimes you need to use indoor bouldering gyms. There are certain criteria you want each one to fulfil, yet this is also personal preference. The main thing is that you can climb routes and train to your heart’s content!
How to Choose Bouldering Gyms?
When you are new to a city the best way to find your favourite bouldering gym is simply to try as many as possible. Some cities have more inside gyms than others, so you could be restricted in this regard. Even so, there are a number of factors you should always assess when heading inside. These are just guidelines, but they will stand you in good stead.
The Route Setting
As a beginner, you want there to be enough accessible climbs for you to try. If the route setting is mainly done for hard climbs, then the gym won’t be for you, and vice versa. A good variety of bouldering grades is what you need. Furthermore, varying styles of climbs is always a good thing. Dedicated overhangs, slabs and more should be available.
Everyone has their favourite style and that is ok, but the ability to practice varying ones will only improve your ability as a boulderer. When you first start bouldering or climbing, you may not pay attention to the way a route is set, but as you improve you will see how much a quality route setter makes to your overall enjoyment.
Climbing inside is not the same as outside. The holds you climb on are not permanent. If you go to a gym often, you should also hope that they reset part of the walls regularly, otherwise things will get boring rather quickly!
Size of the Bouldering Gym
What a bouldering gym can offer in terms of their routes is usually tied in with how much space they have to utilise. Obviously in this regard, the bigger the better. Even so, smaller gyms can find ingenious ways to utilise space. The main thing is the wall space and critically the falling space. You don’t want it to be jam-packed to the point where if you fall you’ll be landing on top of someone.
For some, this won’t be important, but for others, it is a deal-breaker. Many bouldering gyms offer different levels of payment. From a day pass, 10x ticket, monthly pass, to a year pass. Naturally, you want the most bang for your buck. So if a gym is charging more, they have to justify it.
This is something you won’t use unless you are fairly experienced, but a good training area can really improve you as a climber. Hangboards, free weights, and pull up bars are a must. But then the extras like rings, moon board, tension board, a spray wall can really round off the training experience.
A good area to do stretches and practice yoga won’t go amiss either. Overall, training for bouldering can incorporate many different facets and as a result, you need access to a multitude of different equipment to facilitate this.
This is the type of thing that for most people really isn’t important. Even so, having somewhere big enough to change, with access to a shower is nice. You don’t want some grotty little hole, even so, you are there for the climbing, not the pampering.
Some places can offer you a little bit extra. What do we mean by that? Well, do they have a cafe, or better yet a sauna? Having access to a sauna after a climb can really put a gym over the top. There is no better way to relax the muscles, especially in the winter! Obviously, this is just a luxury but it is one you could get used to.
Friendliness of the Bouldering Gym Staff
If you walk into a bouldering gym and you get the feeling you aren’t welcome, then don’t go back! Climbers and boulderers, in general, are a friendly bunch. Most gyms have staff that are there for you as soon as you enter. They should guide you on your initial experience and briefly explain what to expect. Many gyms offer courses these days, so that is also a bonus if you are a beginner looking for some extra tips.
Bouldering Gyms Around the World
Our team here at TopBouldering are based all over the world, so we are delighted to bring you detailed reviews of the situation in different cities. We have produced guides where we list bouldering gyms for each city individually. See our list below: