This may come as a surprise, being the adventure girl I am, but I’ve never tried bouldering before, in fact, I’ve never even tried climbing of any sort before! I have no idea why, perhaps lack of options, or purely because I have never really understood it, or maybe just because haven’t had the opportunity to try bouldering. Who knows.
But I’ve always been the type of person who likes to give new things a go, especially when given the opportunity, so I was really excited to discover the Highcross Leicester, (my university city) was opening a brand new climbing centre called Social Climbing.
I was invited to the opening, where I would finally get my first experience in learning how to boulder or climb! My husband who joined me had previously tried climbing and really enjoyed it, I was a little nervous mainly because I had no idea what I was doing, and often, that is the reason, if at all, why I’d not do something. However, with a confidence boost from the Social Climbing team showing me the way, I was soon off climbing up on the greens.
Once upon a time, I used to live in Leicester so I know the Highcross shopping centre very well, in fact, I’ve known it as far back as when it was small and called The Shires. Now it boasts numerous shops, and hosts events and activities, it’s just a fantastic place to go. But I’m so thrilled they are utilising the space that has been neglected, as where Social Climbing resides, is actually the older portion of the shopping centre, so it is great to see each part of the Highcross is being utilised.
Social climbing has four founders who come from the hospitality industry and are also big climbing fans, so a combination of great customer service skills and a passion for climbing, these guys are on to something good. I actually got chatting to one of the four owners, Pete Sherman, who was explaining that they have other equipment available at the centre to help keep you fit if you didn’t fancy climbing.
Whilst you’d never get bored of the climbing walls, you can perhaps do a work out instead of bouldering, just by making use of Social Climbings yoga mats and t-rex bands and other fitness equipment. In fact, you could even have a go at lunchtime use the shower facilities and return to work, or even after work as the centre is open until 8 p.m. You really have got no excuse to get a great workout!
You might think the bouldering could get a little boring, you have a go and that’s that, but you’d be completely wrong. The different colours on the walls represent different levels, so you might start out doing the greens, but then you might progress to a different colour. For example, you could go onto the pinks, but then if you become super good, you could have a go at strength training wall, so you really do have a wide range of options to keep you occupied. I mean, with 700m2 of climbing surface and over 200 routes, you could be there for hours!
For me personally, I don’t always like the gym, which is why I prefer trail running or hiking, I just like to mix things up by doing something a bit different, and I’ll tell you something, I ached after doing bouldering! So you definitely do get a jolly good workout, I mean, I was pretty sweaty!
You can race the walls to give yourself a challenge, so starting out at the bottom you hit the start button, quickly timing yourself as you reach the top and hitting stop. If you’re mega competitive like me, there is a leaderboard so you’ve got a good reason to beat the time! They have food and drink at the centre, so if you want a break, or just to watch others hard at work, you can! But I think the most important point is that it isn’t a space just for people who have been climbing for years, it’s for all ages and abilities… even the Mayor of Leicester had a go!
You might be thinking this is going to cost me lots of money to take part with equipment, but it really doesn’t. When you go in you simply switch your shoes for specific climbing shoes, (I will tell you all about my own climbing shoes in a separate post that I got from the Cotswolds outdoors) so it doesn’t cost much at all to take part. I had a great chat with Luke Seagrave, the Manager of the Cotswolds in the Highcross who was the resident climbing expert, he gave me some amazing pointers, but more importantly, explained how Costwolds Outdoors in the Highcross, has a number of experts there to guide you through getting the right kit.
I’d really like to thank Social Climbing for having me and of course Highcross Leicester, I absolutely loved my Social Climbing experience, and maybe one day I’ll get to a confidence point where I can go rock climbing or even ice climbing! But for now I’m going to start with bouldering and see how I get on, but if you like doing something a little different and you live in Leicester, head to the Highcross for some Social Climbing!