Boulder colours determine the routes, so you climb up on “rocks” of the same colour.
Bouldering works the entire body using only your body weight, relying on balance and core strength rather than brute upper body strength.
The mattress-like floor hugs the walls, giving climbers a soft (and safe) surface to come down to.

Work out a sweat while spending time with friends at this all-day climbing gym, writes Aznim Ruhana Md Yusup

BOULDERING is a form of rock climbing. For the indoor version, instead of hitching yourself onto ropes and harnesses to climb some 20-30 metres up an artificial cliff, you’re scaling at a more human level and without the aforementioned equipment.

The walls at Bump Bouldering gym in Petaling Jaya go up to a maximum of five metres. They go inwards or outwards and are covered by colourful plastic rocks and boulders of different shapes and sizes to total to about 80 climbing routes. Boulder colours determine the routes, so you climb up on rocks of the same colour.

Bump Bouldering co-founder Zhao Hong Chang says they change the way the boulders are placed every week, which creates new routes to keep climbers challenged. “When climbers know the route will be gone next week, they try harder to complete it,” he says.

Meanwhile, a white thick, mattress-like floor hugs the walls, giving climbers a soft (and safe) surface to come down to. Large windows and light-coloured birch plywood give the gym a bright and airy feel, while benches near the climbing area let climbers take breaks and relax.

Zhao says he wants to create a place where people can spend time with their friends, while still staying active. “This isn’t like a gym where people come in and do their workout for an hour or two and leave. Here, you pay the entry fee and you’re welcome to stay all-day.”

It seems that bouldering is a social activity. The idea is for people to come with their friends and take turns trying out the different routes. One person would climb and the rest would give tips or words of encouragement.

There’s no climbing instructor as such, although Zhao and his colleagues make the rounds regularly to spot climbers in difficulty. They also run weekly complimentary bouldering classes for newbies, but everything else is up to the climber to discover.

LEARN TO FALL

But before I can climb, I need to learn how to fall. There are several options; the first is simply to step off a boulder, one foot after the other. The second way is to jump off and land with both feet on the ground in a squatting position. If the momentum is too much, roll backwards away from the wall.

With that, I am ready to start bouldering. The difficulty level of each route is stated by the number of dots on a boulder — one dot being the easiest. There are L and R marks on the boulders, which state where your left and right hands need to be when you start the route. You complete by placing both hands on a marked boulder at the top of the route for three seconds.

The first route I try is pretty straightforward, with boulders on either side that I can grab and step on to, to get the top. The second route requires some wiggling between hand and feet but I still manage to finish the route.

Bouldering works the entire body using only your body weight. But it relies more on balance and core strength, rather than brute upper body strength to pull yourself up. It’s also useful to have strong fingers and toes, because you inevitably will need to perch on a boulder.

On Zhao’s instruction, I learn to push my body upwards using my legs, instead of my arms. I also learn to trust my body’s ability (and the gym’s safety measures) as I stretch my arm up to reach a boulder while my feet leave another boulder to jump. That said, different people climb differently, which may depend on height and body shape.

It’s easy to assume that taller people will have an easier time grabbing a boulder, but they may also be less agile compared to shorter climbers. There’s apparently no wrong way to reach the final boulder, so everyone is welcome to try whichever method that works for them.

FAST FACTS

BUMP BOULDERING GYM

WHAT: Boulder climbing

WHERE: Lot 1.051, Level 1, The School, Jaya One, 72A Jalan Universiti, PJS 13, Petaling Jaya, Selangor

FEE: RM32 for all-day entry

DIFFICULTY LEVEL: Suitable for beginners and advanced climbers

TRAINING ESSENTIALS: Gym clothes. Climbing shoes are required and are available for rent at RM7, chalk at RM5.

DURATION: Monday to Friday, Noon-11pm.

Saturday and Sunday, 9am-9pm

WEBSITE: www.bumpbouldering.com

[email protected]