Frugal Fitness

In our first ever Frugal Fitness video, we find out how expensive it is to take up rock climbing and the potential benefits of doing so.

In our first ever Frugal Fitness video, Verity Payne finds out how expensive it is to take up rock climbing and the potential benefits of doing so

Hello, I’m Verity Payne and welcome to Frugal Fitness on, where I look at the cost of taking up a new sport and find out whether it’s value for money.

Today I’m going to take up rock climbing. So I’ve rocked up to Mile End Climbing wall to speak to Andrew Reid, the Chairman of the Association of British climbers and Gregory Nunn, an instructor at the centre for some pointers to get me started.

How can I find out where to do rock climbing?

Andrew Reid: You’ve got a variety of sources; you could go to our national governing body which is the British Mountaineering Council; there are plenty of forums, the UK Climbing forum is probably the most popular; go into a specialist climbing shop, they’ve got books and guide books which tell you where the routes are in specific areas.

As a beginner, do I need a lesson and how much does it cost?

Andrew Reid: As a beginner, it’s probably preferable to have a lesson. The reason is that climbing is quite complex, it’s a lot to do with body movements and they’re not innate skills. So an instructor isn’t that expensive, we charge £35 for an hour but the instructor will look after up to eight people so you can share that cost between you.

So what equipment do I need?

Gregory Nunn: Initially nothing. If you go to the centre, they’ll have shoes which you can hire to use on the rock wall. Other than that just comfortable clothing, normally what you would wear to the gym.

Do people tend to stick at it?

Gregory Nunn: Yes I’d say they do. They tend to find that it’s quite sociable, they meet people and they come back week after week.

So great, it’s pretty easy to get a foothold in rock climbing, but what kind of results can I expect if I do it regularly?

Gregory Nunn: There’s obviously the health benefits. It is an extra sport and it is a full body workout at the same time.

Andrew Reid: Rock climbing is an activity which is very good for your physique, also because you have to work out very quickly what you’re going to do, it turns your brain on as well.

Can it be a family activity?

Andrew Reid: Yes definitely. We’ve moved away from the fact that it’s only about climbing outdoors. Now a whole family can come to the climbing wall, because of the new devices, you can have son holding the ropes for granny etc. Everybody can do everything.

So it’s easy to take up and great all round exercise, but now for the cliff hanger… Is it expensive?

Climbing centres across the UK typically charge around £7 per visit, or £35 for a monthly pass. Some centres offer memberships for around £5, which is well worth getting if you plan to go regularly, as if you're a member you usually pay one or two pounds less per visit. Others offer more expensive annual memberships, which start from £300 and offer unlimited access to the climbing facilities.

Rock climbing rocks! It’s great all round exercise for your body and your brain with low set up costs, totally frugal! For more information and money saving tips check out our Frugal Friday blog.


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