Ditch the gym and get fit with some inner-city climbing
Rock climbing flexes both your mental and physical muscles. Planning your path and figuring out if your legs have the strength to get you up the wall, are all part of the fun – and the workout. If you’re not yet ready for the mountains, there are a number of venues where you can learn how to climb and boulder with confidence.
Adventure HQ This nine-metre indoor climbing pinnacle is suited to beginners. During our visit the wall was occupied by a group of enthusiastic eight-year-olds who scrambled to the top so quick, they’d put Spider-Man to shame. As the only adult participating – and with our pride at stake – we attempt each of the routes from beginner to advanced. The course works well for novices due to its relatively moderate height, but with the various levels of difficulty offered, it still remains challenging enough to excite. Climbers can attend alone or in a group and the staff are on hand at all times to demonstrate and advise, making us feel safe and at ease throughout. Best for: New climbers and kids Rating: 3/5 From Dhs60 (30 minutes). Sat-Wed 10am-9pm; Thu-Fri 10am-11pm; daily 10am-11pm during Ramadan. Times Square Center, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 346 690904 346 6909).
Dorell Sports At 15 metres, this is the highest climbing wall in the city and an ideal facility for climbers who really want to stretch their skills. The wall here is outdoors so there’s no escaping the heat, despite some hard-working A/C units. The lesson is one-to-one. Our instructor provides us with a pair of very snug-fitting climbing shoes and secures us into a harness. After explaining which colour holds we should use for hand and foot grips, we’re quickly scaling the wall. The instructor is encouraging and offers advice when we get stuck. The abseil down can be a bit nervy for novices, but overall, it’s very safe. There’s also a flat wall with smaller holds, and a face with more curves for a challenging, realistic rock climb. Best for: Extreme climbers Rating: 4/5 From Dhs60. Sun-Thu 2pm-10pm; Fri-Sat 2pm-9pm. Dubai World Trade Centre Hotel Apartments Block C, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 306 506104 306 5061).
Pharaohs’ Club Climbing sessions take place in groups of five. After being secured into a harness, we chalk our hands and take to the 13.5-metre-high wall. Our instructor calls out the route to guide us up when we appear stuck, which is helpful, since it’s the first time we’ve climbed. Getting to the top is a slightly hair raising experience at first, but after a few climbs it gets easier. Our instructor suggests taking a more difficult route, which keeps the session varied and fun. It’s enjoyable and we feel safe throughout. It takes us a little while to relax when abseiling back down, but for the workout it provides, it’s worth it. Far more enjoyable than running on a treadmill. Best for: Novices Rating: 4/5 Dhs65 (members, supervised), Dhs75 (non-members, supervised). Daily, times vary. Wafi Pyramids, Oud Metha (04 324 000004 324 0000).
Rock Republic It’s all about bouldering at Rock Republic – scaling the wall without a harness. But it isn’t as high as a climbing wall – at 4.5 metres, it sounds easy. However, without the security of someone pulling on a rope down below to keep you close to the wall, you’ll need your full concentration, skill and strength to prevent gravity taking its course while you clamber to the top. Its owner describes the experience as ‘gymnastics-meets-Sudoku-meets-a-crossword-puzzle’, and it’s a thoroughly rewarding experience that provides a great full-body workout. Best for: Thrillseekers Rating: 4/5 Dhs80 (day pass), Dhs30 (Fri 9am-11am). Mon-Fri 5.30pm-9.30pm; Fri-Sat 1pm-8pm. Dubai Investments Park (04 882 936104 882 9361).
Talise Fitness Be sure to book a morning session here, since with no fans or A/C – just a canvas for shade – you’ll will work up a serious sweat. The wall is around six metres high and has a variety of runs for different experience levels. Safety is clearly paramount – we’re instructed to keep our helmet on at all times. Classes are all one-to-one and for members only. For an outdoor facility, the height doesn’t provide much of challenge, even in the heat and humidity. The instructor helps us build up our skills and confidence by showing us different positions and tips for gripping the holds and using the wall. Best for: Improving technique Rating: 4/5 Dhs70 per session. Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Jumeirah Beach Road (04 406 880004 406 8800).