Climbing

How to Prepare For Your First Climbing Gym Experience at BKB

OCTOBER 12, 2021 THE BKB TEAM

New to climbing and thinking about checking out one of our NYC, Boston, Chicago, or Washington, DC locations? (Pst.. guess what! Our BKB Eckington Washington, DC climbing gym is now open!)

Come on in! We’re excited to show you the ropes + get you hooked on our favorite hobby. To ensure you have the best experience possible, we’ve outlined what to expect before + after you arrive, including some helpful tips for your first time on the wall.

Not sure if climbing is for you yet? Here are our top 10 reasons why you should start rock climbing today.

Before you arrive

Before your first climb at BKB, here are a few things you can do now to prepare for your visit.

Connect with a Community Advisor

Ease your nerves and get your questions answered before you arrive by connecting with one of our Community Advisors. Our Community Advisors are a resource for you to learn about our introductory classes, membership options, community + more.

They can share more about what to expect on your first day as well as details specific to the BKB community nearest you in one of our NYC, Boston, Chicago, or (coming soon!) Washington, D.C. locations.

Sign up for an introductory class

For our new climbers, some basic instruction can help ensure your first time climbing is a positive experience that sets you up with the right knowledge to climb safely + effectively. At all our BKB locations, we have two introductory class options depending on what kind of climbing you want to do.

Intro to Climbing
This 60-minute class is the perfect climbing 101 lesson for the new or beginner climber. During class, you’ll learn how to make tweaks and important corrections to improve your climbing technique in a small-group setting. It focuses on all three main styles of climbing in the gym so you can try it all: top rope, bouldering, and lead climbing. You’ll also receive an auto-belay orientation and an introduction to roping.

Learn the Ropes
This 90-minute class teaches you the basics of top-roping + belaying. You’ll learn how to properly fit yourself in a harness, how to correctly tie knots, how to belay or manage the rope for another climber on a top rope climb, as well as all the basic climbing movements you need to know to get on the wall.

Dress for the wall

For the best experience, dress in comfortable athletic clothes that allow your body to move freely. Skip the jeans and opt for a pair of leggings, joggers, or athletic shorts instead. Wear what you would wear to the gym or for a run, no need to invest in any new clothes!

As for shoes, we don’t allow climbing with sneakers or any other type of shoe other than ones built for climbing. Trust us, climbing with the right shoes will make things a lot easier!

At every location, we have climbing shoe rentals available in the equipment section of the gym that climbers can rent before investing in their own pair. Most climbers go without socks to get the best grip on the wall, but with rentals, we recommend wearing a thin pair of socks!

What about equipment?

Don’t worry about purchasing any kind of gear! Just bring yourself + a positive attitude. Harnesses for rope climbs + shoes are available for rent in all of our locations, as well as chalk to help grip the wall a bit better. In our introductory classes, the gear rental is included. For more information about gear contact your local BKB facility.

Review our Personal Responsibility Code + Community Health Guidelines

All first-time visitors need to complete a Personal Responsibility Code + review our Community Health Guidelines before entering our facilities. Save yourself some time by completing this before you arrive!

Once you arrive

Here’s what to expect when you walk in the door at one of our BKB locations. We can’t wait to see you and get you on the wall!

Take a tour

If it’s your first time, ask one of our front desk staff to give you a tour of the location! Due to local COVID-19 guidelines, some amenities may not be available. But you can still get a feel for our community, check out our fitness studio, locate our locker rooms, and get oriented to the wall right away.

If you’re interested in top-roping or autobelay, make sure to talk to the staff at the front desk. All BKB rope systems, whether you have prior experience or not, will require an orientation or testing to ensure safe use of the equipment. If you’re interested in belaying or being belayed, our introductory courses are a great place to start!

Purchase your pass or become a member

Want to keep climbing? Options vary depending on location but most facilities offer:

  • Day Passes
  • 10 Packs
  • Annual or month-to-month memberships (includes Intro to Climbing + Learn the Ropes classes)
  • Basic Monthly Membership options
  • Sliding Scale Membership options
  • Student + Family Discounts
  • Beginner to Badass package (One full month of access to any BKB location, full gear kit rental, and Intro to Climbing + Learn the Ropes classes)

To find the right pass for you head to our Membership page for pricing by location.

Get to know the equipment

As part of our introductory classes, our instructors will get you set up with the gear that you need. For top-roping, all you need are climbing shoes, a harness, and chalk. Belay devices and ropes are already prefixed. For bouldering, your only equipment is a chalk bag + climbing shoes.

All needed equipment is available as part of your introductory class. If you are dropping in, bring your own gear or rent from us. All local BKB facilities offer rental gear.

For beginner climbers, we recommend renting first before investing so that you can get a feel for the gear and decide what makes the most sense for you. Our front desk staff or instructors will get everything you need + show you how it all works.

As you’re climbing

So you’ve finally made it on the wall! Here are a few things to keep in mind for that first climb.

Embrace the mistakes

It’s no secret that climbing is inherently challenging, both mentally and physically. That’s one of the reasons why we love it, but also why you need to expect and embrace the learning curve. The goal for your first time climbing is not to be an expert from the get-go, but to have fun while learning something new.

Instead of feeling embarrassed, discouraged, or intimidated, remember that all climbers started at this point. Be proud of yourself for learning a new skill and taking yourself out of your comfort zone. Lean into the mistakes, learn from them, and we promise that each time you come back to the wall you will get stronger.

Watch + learn from other climbers

Our BKB community is incredibly supportive + encouraging. Experienced climbers remember their first time climbing and are more than happy to cheer you on and offer guidance.

As a beginner climber don’t be afraid to watch other climbers, learn from their techniques, and ask for their beta, or advice, on a climb. While you might not be ready to replicate their moves exactly, you can start to get a feel for the right techniques to get you up the wall. You might even pick up on some climbing lingo!

Go easy + expect to feel sore tomorrow

Tomorrow you are going to feel sore in muscles you didn’t even know existed. That’s because climbing uses muscles that don’t get a lot of action in other sports or activities such as your fingers, forearms, and hands.

Given this is a new experience for you and your muscles, take it easy during your first few climbs as you start to build up your climbing endurance and strength. It’s normal to feel fatigued or drained pretty quickly as a newcomer. Give yourself plenty of rest and breaks throughout and when you start to feel fatigued, it might be time to call it a day. And after you finish climbing, make sure to stretch!

Come back for more!

One of the great things about climbing is that while there is always room to grow, success on the wall comes pretty quickly for the beginner climber. On day one you might be feeling intimidated, overwhelmed, and fatigued. But even after just a few sessions at BKB you will be celebrating noticeable improvements on the wall and feeling much stronger and more confident.

Ready to join the BKB community? Learn more about our membership options at each of our BKB locations (and check out our newest climbing gym in Washington, D.C.!).

For new climbers, we recommend our Beginner to Badass package or one of our introductory classes. For more tips on technique, check out our climbing tips for beginners to improve your skill on the wall, and be sure to follow us on Instagram for daily inspiration.

Did you hear the news? Our brand new Washington, D.C. location is now open! Check out BKB Eckington today.