So, you’re thinking about getting into indoor bouldering, good! You’ve come to the right place, we’ve got more boulders than you could shake the proverbial stick at! Welcome to the Flashpoint Bristol Beginner’s Bouldering Guide!

What is bouldering?

First things first, let’s tackle that question burning in your mind. Well, imagine climbing up a wall without any ropes or harnesses, but instead, solving a puzzle that involves balance, strength, and some fancy footwork. That’s bouldering for you! It’s like a giant jungle gym for adults, where you’ll be scrambling up walls, clinging onto tiny holds, and pretending to be Spider-Man. It’s challenging, exhilarating, and totally addictive. Which is probably why you’re here. You’ve heard so many of your friends tout the bountiful benefits of bouldering, you’re keen to see what’s what. We don’t blame ya!

How high are the walls, and am I going to end up splattered on the floor?

Fear not compadre! Bouldering walls typically range from 3-5 metres in height, which might sound intimidating, but worry not, for you shall conquer these walls one hold at a time. Plus, the floors under the walls are covered in thick, squishy mats that will cushion your fall and reduce the likelihood of injuries! (In all seriousness, as great as the mats are, for beginners, we recommend learning how to fall correctly as step 1 in your indoor climbing journey, as injuries can still happen).

Where do I start this bouldering journey?

Well, let me share some secrets to help you get started. First, find a bouldering gym near you – off the top of my mind, I’d recommend Flashpoint Bristol as an excellent choice, just sayin’. We have walls for climbers of all skill levels and a vibrant community that will make you feel like you’ve found your tribe. Once you’re there, get yourself a pair of climbing shoes. They’re tight-fitting beauties covered in black sticky rubber to allow you to stick to surfaces you’d never have dreamed of before. Wondering where to acquire the magical slippers? For first-time climbers, we’d recommend you rent a pair from us (this is the cheapest option) once you’re hooked, buy a pair that fit you well and feel like a “proper boulder”! Head over to our buddies at Dick’s who have a massive selection to pick from!

Now, let’s talk techniques:

There are various skills you can master to become a bouldering ninja. From the heel hook to the gaston, the toe hook to the dyno, each move has a quirky name that sounds like something you’d order at a trendy coffee shop. If in doubt just say a combination of the aforementioned phrases and you’ll fit in! Don’t worry; you’ll learn them all in due time. Just remember, practice makes perfect, and falling flat on your face is part of the process. Embrace the faceplants, they’re character-building. The best way to learn techniques more advanced than the basic ladder-pulling style we’re all born with is to watch others climb, ask them to show you certain body positions or foot placements, and to generally try everything until something works. Do you remember that friend that always goes on about bouldering? Come with them and they can put their money where their mouth is and show you the ropes (figuratively, no ropes here – we’re boulders!).

Bouldering vs. Sport climbing:

On the topic of no ropes, let’s settle a debate that’s been raging in the climbing world: bouldering vs. route climbing. All bouldering is climbing, but not all climbing is bouldering. Bouldering is like the punk rock cousin of rope climbing, while rope climbing a sport route is more like a sophisticated tango. Bouldering came about as a way to train for “proper climbing” but has since become a sport all in itself. Boulders are shorter, and often very powerful with few moves. Route climbing, on the other hand, involves much longer routes, and the use of ropes and is all about endurance! Both are fantastic, but bouldering offers that instant gratification and allows you to unleash your inner beast in a condensed burst of energy. It’s also a sport that can be done on your own, whereas with a rope, you’ll want someone on the other end of that!

Is bouldering dangerous?

I hear you yelling, nervously eyeing your collection of bubble wrap and cotton wool. Well, like any physical activity, there’s always an element of risk involved. However, bouldering is generally considered safe, especially in indoor gyms, like ours, where the amazing staff ensure a well-maintained and safe environment. As long as you follow the safety guidelines in the induction video, warm up thoroughly,  and don’t attempt any backflips from the top of the wall, you should be a-okay.

What are the Benefits of Bouldering?

Let’s talk about the benefits of bouldering because, let’s face it, we all love a good excuse to indulge in our new obsession. Bouldering is a fantastic full-body workout that will have you flexing muscles you didn’t even know existed. Your arms, back, core, and legs will thank you for the challenge. Plus, it’s a great way to improve your balance, coordination, and mental focus.  Imagine a workout that doesn’t feel like a workout – a full-body exercise that challenges your strength, agility, and endurance. Forget about boring, run-of-the-mill gym routines; bouldering is the ultimate playground for your body, sculpting muscles, strengthening your grip and giving you fingers of steel! Did I mention that it’s a sure-fire way to meet awesome people and become part of a supportive community? Consider this your warning that you’ll meet and make friends you’ll keep for life.

So there you have it, folks, the Flashpoint Bristol Beginner’s Guide to Bouldering. Now it’s time to pre-register, come to Flashpoint and get sending!