Does anyone else get the desire to scamper up and over things like walls, rocks and urban climbing frames? Excellent, it’s not just me. Everyone Active recently got in touch with me to see if I wanted to try out their climbing wall at the Seymour Leisure Centre in Marylebone, London and of course I jumped at the chance.
I did a bit of bouldering at university but I’ve never really climbed properly so I was excited to learn a bit more about the technical side of it and challenge myself. The leisure centre itself is huge with a swimming pool, massive sports hall and lots of other studios but the climbing wall itself stretches up about 4 or 5 storeys with enough space for 10 or more people to be climbing at once. The hand and foot-holds can be changed so if you go regularly you’d see the routes change.
After a quick introduction to safety, the harness and how to tie a knot for belaying I was presented with the beginners wall and a challenge to only use the red blocks. Up I clambered, feeling that sense of achievement as I hit the top and abseiled back down. Next up was a slightly more tricky route where a couple of times I had to match my feet or hands (put them onto the same hold) which doesn’t feel as stable but enables you to then move up.
On this route I started to feel my arms getting tired but a well-timed reminder to use my legs to push myself up rather than using my arms to pull myself up helped to keep me going to the top. The third route went all the way to the top of the wall and was much more technical including a few lateral moves and some more feet and hands matching. This is the one that gave me a massive buzz as I started struggling towards the top and only realised how high I’d climbed when I reached the very top and looked down. Top tip: don’t look down.
The final challenge was to try out bridging where you climb up a corner rather than a straight wall. In a bridge you’ll regularly find positions for your legs where you’re so stable that you can actually take your hands off the wall and give your arms a break. That’s the idea anyway. I made it halfway up this route before my leg started cramping and I was done for the lesson.
Overall the lesson was a lot of fun, the instructor was incredibly helpful with pointing out which holds to look at for each hand and foot when I got stuck and the facility was quiet, clean and well-maintained. My grip strength was pretty smoked after the session which made applying the brakes on my cycle home a little bit interesting…
If you want to try something new to challenge your body in a new way I’d definitely recommend climbing. It engages your brain to the point that you forget you’re working out and it’s a great upper-body workout. There’s a sense of achievement too every time you reach the top of a route so that post-workout endorphin boost is even bigger.
Seymour Leisure Centre (Seymour Place, London, W1H 5TJ)
Price list here
Equipment is available to hire