Is Indoor Rock Climbing Nairobi’s New Crossfit?

Rock Climbing – A mix of exercise and fun #funexercise. “If you’re not having fun, then you shouldn’t be doing it,” said the late and great Alex Lowe

It’s a Wednesday evening in Nairobi, and the midweek rush is on at gyms around the city. Alex Wung, a 32-year-old accountant, is stretching quickly before jumping into his twice a week kettlebell routine. But he’s not at his usual gym. For several months now, Wung has been coming to the Climb Bluesky indoor rock climbing and bouldering gym, at Diamond Plaza, Parklands. With more than 30,000 square feet of sheer, angular walls dotted with thousands of chalk-covered holds, it’s one of the largest climbing gyms in the country, if not the only. The facility includes all the wall space a rock hound could want.

“I do two days of climbing per week and two days in the fitness area”, he says. ” Before this, I was a member of a local gym, and I became just another jock, pumping weights, getting strong for no functionality. Here everyone wants to be a better athlete, fitter, healthier, plus its way more fun than pumping iron every single day.”

I, Tori Kioko as a climber; I will always remember the day I got hooked, the feeling that resulted after accomplishing a climb – it kept me going back for more. For me, climbing is an escape. It is an activity where times seems to stand still and the moment is all that matters. It’s also an opportunity to discover more about my myself through the hard work and determination required to excel.

When I first started climbing, fake it till you make it was my mantra. That was until I met my first climbing mentor and partner who taught me “the ropes”…. pun intended! And the mental focus it takes to improve.

“At Climb Bluesky, we are passionate about climbing, and we want to share that passion with everyone who comes to our gym! Whether it’s your first visit or you’ve been climbing for years, our gym is a great place to come with the family, with friends or as an individual”, says Samson, the gyms climb manager.

” Climbing gyms used to be these dark, dirty places where only climbers would go,” he adds. “Nowadays pretty much everyone you talk to has tried climbing or knows someone who has. Come climb with us.”

Climbing gyms now attract urban professionals tired of the same old circuit- training class. This gym feels much bigger, has more space and natural light, and is outfitted with climbing walls painted with bright, eye-catching colors like orange, yellow and green. The climbing gym has added a full complement of classes, functional circuit boot camps, kettlebell classes, fun games and day trips. Which gets you questioning, is this the new crossfit? Though the gym has been in existence before people knew what zumba was or spinning let alone crossfit. In-house coffee bars is a plus and the creative workspaces and lounges. They host kid’s birthday parties, after-school programs, team building, and even late night parties with DJs… I suggest!

You need to try indoor rock climbing if you haven’t yet. It’s the workout without the work. You don’t feel like you have to go to the gym. You actually want to go.

“I feel good about more people coming into climbing,” says Andrew, Climb Director. “Our sport has been so small for so long, so it’s great to see that people are psyched on it. We have also the outdoor climbing tower at the Purdy Arms, located in Karen, 0pened only on the weekends with a day pass of 500kshs.”

As I conclude, climbing should not be only about getting to the top – it should always be about having fun. Remember the good old days of riding your bike with the neighborhood kids, playing police and robbers until the sun came down. Having so much fun that you didn’t want to go home for dinner? That is what climbing should feel like.

Climbing is also full of ups and downs, but taking the time to remember what attracted you to the sport from the beginning will see you through every time.