Climbing, an alternative way of keeping fit in Sheffield.

Climbing worksBy: Skye Strasman

With the season of beaches and outdoor swimming pools approaching, try Sheffield has studied an otherwise overlooked method of keeping fit.

For those of you who dislike or feel uncomfortable by the traditional method of going to the gym to keep fit, climbing could prove to be a healthy alternative.

If you speak to any climber, most of them would insist that climbing is an excellent way to keep fit, along with being a lot of fun.

Jake Haddock, captain of the Sheffield Hallam climbing team said: “Man it’s incredible. I don’t go to the gym or anything anymore, but I can easily carry my own weight.”


He added that most climbers in general have a good body composition: “they did an analytical test on the rest of the climbing team and most climbers’ averaged around 6% body fat.”

The reason behind why climbers say it’s so good is because in climbing you have to work every body part. So after one climbing sessions, you will have trained at least your arms, legs, shoulders, core etc.

“Man, its incredible – Most climbers averaged 6% body fat”.

In Sheffield there are two available indoor climbing centres, The Climbing Works and Foundry Climbing Centre. The Climbing Works can be found on Little London Road, Sheffield and has been running for six and a half years. It was co-founded by Sam Whittaker, Graeme Alderson and Percy Bishton.

The Climbing Works specialises in Bouldering. This means climbing small walls, where climbers will not need a rope or harness, and there are safety mats all over the floor so climbers do not need to worry about injury if they fall.

Climbing Works 2

Bouldering in a competition situation would normally involve climbers having to solve “problems”, i.e. they would have to get from the bottom of the wall to the top in five or ten moves.

Sam Whittaker, in speaking to Try Sheffield said his facility provides an easy way to get into climbing, he said: “you don’t need any ropes, you don’t need any harness, you don’t need anything apart from a pair of climbing shoes, and some chalk.”

For people interested in climbing, but with no experience in the sport, customers will have to take part in a fairly pricey induction, costing £20. From then it will only cost adults £6 per off-peak session, and £7 per on-peak session. Students pay £5 off-peak, and £6 on-peak. More information can be found on their website.

Sam added: I’d recommend it to anybody. Rather than slogging at the gym over and over doing the same old thing, this is changing its always got new challenges.

The climbing works have recently opened up a new facility, called The Mini-Climbing Works, which can be found on the same grounds as the original facility. The Mini-Climbing Works caters more for children and adults new to climbing.

The Foundry Climbing Centre is located on Mowbray Street. Unlike The Climbing Works which specialises in bouldering, the foundry has a variety of different climbing facilities. This includes bouldering, top rope climbing and lead climbing. Top Roping and lead climbing are done with a much larger wall, so they require a harness, rope and a partner to belay you.

Neil Bentley, Foundry Climbing’s general manager said: “You have all different types of climbing under one roof, I suppose that’s the beauty of coming down here; and the walls are set for people who have never climbed before, to expert climbers.”

Neil Bentley

Indoor climbing is a lot safer than outdoor climbing or winter climbing, as the climbing walls in an indoor climbing centre are a lot more predictable. Neil said: “I’ve been fortunate when I’ve been climbing outdoors, because of course you’re climbing on loose rock and you have no control over what can happen.”

However it is essential for climbers, when top roping or lead climbing, to understand how to use the safety equipment, as things can go wrong. Neil mentioned a fall which proved fatal that occurred at a climbing centre in the south of the country: “that usually occurs when the person belaying the ropes doesn’t tie the knot properly.”  Instances like this however, occur very rarely, and Foundry Climbing offers sessions which will provide beginner climbers with the knowledge to use the equipment effectively.

Top Roping at the Foundry

Once beginner climbers know what they are doing, they can use the facilities for as little as five pounds. More information can be found on Foundry Climbing’s website.

Neil also informed Try Sheffield of the possibility of climbing becoming an Olympic sport by 2020.

Students coming into Sheffield can get into the sport by joining university climbing clubs. For students attending The University of Sheffield, they can join the High Peak Club by contacting them via Facebook, E-mail or at the sports fair at the beginning of the year. And students going to Sheffield Hallam University can join SHU Climbing via the same method of contact. Alex Stirling, chairman of SHU Climbing said: “I just think it’s a brilliant thing to do. It’s a good atmosphere everyone’s pretty welcoming.”

Jake Haddock, SHU Climbing captain also talked about the club’s involvement in competitions and trips abroad.


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