Fit Trend: Indoor Rock Climbing

Rock climbing is an underrated workout and gaining momentum as a fitness trend.

Boston indoor rock climbingOne room of the Boston Rock Gym interior, photo provided. See more photos after the Q&A.

Indoor rock climbing mimics the experience of outdoor climbing but in a more controlled (and most-likely safer) environment. But indoor rock climbing is now a fitness trend, practiced by people of all ages and athletic abilities that may never want to bring the climbing outdoors. We asked Chris O’Connell, owner of the Boston Rock Gym (78G Olympia Ave., Woburn; 781-935-7325) why rock climbing is a great workout and how to get started.

Why is rock climbing a good workout?

Climbing is both a physical and a mental work out. You unlock sequences of movement and then excite them physically. Climbs that are difficult, whatever your level of fitness and expertise, require focus and thought as well as power and grace to complete the climb.

What muscles does it work?

The muscle groups worked [during] rock climbing are largely the arms, shoulders, and back. [The] core is also activated and quite important.

How does a person start climbing?

The best way to start climbing is to start climbing! There are several good indoor climbing gyms in the Boston area as well as some great outdoor areas. Lessons help and you can find indoor as well as outdoor classes in our area. Bouldering [a form of climbing that is lower to the ground, and does not require the use of harnesses] is very easy to start with because it requires little equipment and can be great training. However, it is still climbing and falling from any height can hurt.

Does climbing help you stay fit for any other activities?

At the BRG we’ve had athletes from several other sports try their hand at climbing. It is more of an upper body exercise so it goes well with more traditional endurance sports like running and cycling. There’s also a fair amount of cross over with cycling. Yoga is also very well represented amount climbers.

Do you have to take a class first?

Classes are not required but I would recommend a class to anyone just starting out. It will make them more comfortable, and it gives them an orientation to the gym and the sport.

What kind of calorie burn can you get rock climbing?

It depends on how hard you work! But, I’ve seen articles say that you burn anywhere from 600-900 calories an hour, depending on weight, etc. But, when you’re climbing you don’t think of it as a work out which makes it a lot more fun.

How long is a session?

Anywhere from an hour and longer. We have members who will climb all day if they can. Typically one to three hours though.


Other climbing gyms in our area:

Rock Spot Climbing; 67 Sprague St., Boston; 617-333-4433

MetroRock; 69 Norman St., Everett; 617-387-7625

Rock On Adventure; 661 Pleasant Street, Norwood; 978-835-2609

rock climbing gym BostonBoston Rock Gym photo provided. Does look too difficult, right? Just kidding.

Rock climbing gym in BostonIt looks like a children’s playground, but you will really work up a sweat climbing up these walls.
Boston Rock Gym interior photo provided.