Getting a Strong Hold on Fitness and Fun

By Christina Elston

rock climbing in los angeles

Kaleb Nehdar scales the walls at Stronghold Climbing Gym. PHOTO BY SETH DEDOES

As I watch kids scramble up the bouldering walls at Stronghold Climbing Gym one recent morning, the words “no fear” come to mind. Up the sculpted gray walls they go, using the colorful hand- and footholds to stretch, push and pull their way to the top.

The gym, located in Downtown L.A.’s Brewery Arts Complex and featured on this month’s cover of L.A. Parent, is pretty safety-forward, with plenty of staff on hand to make sure climbers follow the rules. But it also gives kids a chance to be brave and take (reasonable) risks, use muscles they didn’t know their little bodies had and burn off tons of energy.

The gym offers an annual summer camp plus plenty of year-round opportunities for kids to climb.

They can learn the ropes at Kids’ Climb, 1:30-3:30 p.m. Saturdays, where ages 5-14 get instruction in bouldering, top-rope climbing and climbing movement. The cost is $30 per child and parents can stay and watch, drop the kids off or do some climbing of their own.

Kids who catch the climbing bug might want to join one of Stronghold’s two climbing teams. Climbing Club, for beginner and intermediate climbers ages 5-17, meets from 4-6 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and is designed for kids who love to climb but don’t want to compete. The Gnargoyles advanced team is for climbers who want to work on competitive climbing skills and advanced fitness training – and compete locally and nationally in USA Climbing competitions. It meets from 4-6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Kids on both teams receive age-appropriate instruction and work toward their individual goals. The participation fee of $170 per month includes gym membership.

Speaking of memberships, kids and parents can have unlimited access to the climbing gym, free rental gear and ropes, free daily yoga and fitness classes and discount climbing classes by signing up. Adult memberships are $79 per month, and kids’ are $69. The gym also has plenty of free parking.

After watching how much fun your kids have, you might decide to give it a try – and an Introduction to Climbing class offered three times a week and on weekends will get you started. I couldn’t resist staff member Kyle McCoy’s invitation to put on a harness and tackle the wall. I didn’t scramble up as fearlessly as the kids did, but I was smiling when I reached the top.

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