BoulderBox gives the much-needed leg-up in climbing
A rundown of all that the centre has in store for children and their parents.
Fitness enthusiasts Vrinda Bhageria and Yadu Bhageria have given the Capital its newest climbing centre, BoulderBox. “And not just adults, the centre has something exciting for children as well as,” the duo says. So read on to know everything about this fun-filled activity.
What was the idea behind starting BoulderBox?
Vrinda: The idea developed several years ago when I was climbing regularly in Delhi after having moved back from the US. Indian Mountaineering Foundation is the only public place to climb at, at the time, I realised an immediate need for something more inviting for new people to try out the sport. During this while, I was often climbing at the Bouldering wall that Yadu had built at his house. I’d invite a bunch of people that I met while climbing who are now also some of my closest friends. The need for a place to actively participate in something that we all felt so passionately about became obvious. Also, the desire to grow the community and build awareness about a sport as inclusive and life-changing (at least, in my opinion) as climbing was evident.
Yadu: I’ve spent the majority of my climbing life living abroad. Initially, I climbed at my boarding school in the UK as well as other climbing centres in that local region. Coming back to India for holidays meant that I’d have to go to IMF if I wanted to climb. The people were conducive to having a great time but frankly, the facilities were not. After much pestering, I am fortunate my parents relented to my desire to have a bouldering wall built at our house in Delhi. Over time I have been able to improve this facility by bringing in as many holds as my luggage would allow on my every visit from abroad. Slowly the circle of people who were visiting my place grew, and this demonstrated to me the need for a public climbing centre that met with international climbing gyms. Thus BoulderBox was conceived.
What has been the response so far? Who are the ones to sign up for climbing?
Vrinda: The response has been quite positive. Everyone who comes in has had a good experience so far. We hope to be able to provide a unique experience for everyone. An opportunity for people to try bouldering/ climbing in a safe environment, which is something they may have never tried before or have had limited experience of. This allows them with the option of pursuing it as a fitness alternative in their daily routine. Mostly people who have already heard of climbing or are interested in a fun alternative means of fitness have visited the centre for a climb.
What is your background? Who are others behind it?
Vrinda: After having studied Graphic Design for four years and pursuing it as a career for the last couple of years, the sedentary lifestyle started taking a toll on me and starting a climbing centre had been somewhat a dream for the last couple of years so this seemed like the next obvious step.
Yadu: I’m a mathematician by education and enjoy playing with data and dabbling in the equity markets. I started climbing because I got injured as a runner about a decade ago. Within a year, I had stopped running and I was only climbing. Slowly, it has become somewhat of an obsession for me. Now that I’m helping open a gym, I can devote even more time to it!
Vrinda: I think Yadu and I can both agree that while choosing the BoulderBox staff our main criteria was not to get a strong climber on board but to get an empathetic one. Rahul Ranjan is from Dehradun and has recently moved to Delhi for this. He comes with a plethora of experience having been fully immersed in the sport ever since he started climbing eight years ago. With recent experience in setting at gyms outside of the country, he also helped us get route-setting processes in place. He’s also just a great guy and excellent with kids. Viraj Sose is from Pune, also moved to Delhi for this. Viraj is an extremely obsessive and passionate climber. He is the prime example of never giving up. Viraj tried endlessly until he succeeds. With a background in Micro-Biology, he is also super technical about things. Varun Mishra is a climber from Delhi. He’s been travelling up north and climbing outdoors quite a bit in the recent past. While an unassuming presence at the gym he has forearms and biceps bigger than Popeye’s and crushes problems like a beast!
What are the benefits of climbing? Does someone need to have some background in fitness to start it?
Vrinda: At BoulderBox, we hope to be able to convince people to quit the mindset of “I’m not strong enough to climb” or “I lack upper body strength” and inculcate the sense of “Climbing is for everyone”. In our opinion climbing is indeed for everyone.
Yadu: No background in fitness is required to start climbing. If you can climb a ladder, you can climb at our centre! Being fit helps, but climbing also is a way for one to get fit. Everyone needs to start somewhere, and climbing allows for a great journey towards being a healthier and fitter self.
What are the different programmes that you have for children?
Vrinda: Currently, kids can come to climb with their parents at any time of the day when the centre is operational. If the kids are anywhere between 14 and 18, and pass our competency test, then they can start climbing unsupervised. We also have group kids class four times a week. It is on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays at 4 pm and Saturdays at noon. It runs for an hour, and one of our instructors guides the kids, and thus it does not require parental supervision. These times are subject change as we have plans of introducing further kids classes.
Yadu: Finally, for a personally guided session we also offer private classes that are 90 minutes long and can be scheduled any time of the week.
What are the challenges for children who want to get into climbing
Yadu: Climbing is probably less challenging for a child than it is for an adult as they are inherently more agile and quick learners. At times the grips can be quite far if the child is too short, at the same time smaller grips are also better to hold onto for smaller hands. Climbing is like, and regardless of age, height and ability it always allows one to come up with creative ways of doing so.
What are the takeaways for children who want to try their hand at it?
Vrinda: Climbing offers a lot of varied movements and allows one to experiment and apply different movement patterns and often in a very controlled manner. This extreme awareness of how one’s body is moving helps build extensively on a child’s movement vocabulary. Apart from the very physical benefits, climbing also improves mental focus and awareness. Above all, bouldering and climbing is a community activity and teaches a child how to be supportive of others.
How have children taken to this offer?
Yadu: The response from everyone who has come so far has been super positive. The kids enjoy being wholly engaged in the form of activity that is so natural to them and yet so varied in the movement that it allows.
What is the age group most suitable for joining this programme?
Vrinda: Anyone between the age group of 6 to 18 years can be enrolled in the kids classes.
How can one enrol?
Yadu: One can sign up through our website; we have online payment plans for all our climbing classes, passes and memberships including the kid’s classes. Alternatively, one can also come to the centre talk to one of our crew members and get a better idea of what the class entails, meet the instructor, understand the benefits of climbing for kids and then enrol their child in the class.
Any camps or workshops that you plan to start?
Vrinda: We do plan to start a youth squad or a kids academy at some point. Currently, we need more kids of a certain age group coming and climbing regularly before we can start the academy.
What is the USP of BoulderBox that sets it apart from others of its ilk?
Yadu: At BoulderBox, we aim to provide a fun and friendly environment for everyone to come and try climbing. We have a set of routes that will rotate weekly in the different areas so there is always a new challenge for people coming in. To supplement a clean and healthy environment conducive to fitness, we have an integrated clean air system designed by Breathe Easy Labs, one of the leading clean air solution providers in New Delhi, which allows one to exercise in Mountain Fresh Air once they’re in BoulderBox.
Vrinda: State of the art climbing grips to climb on, a team of highly skilled climbers and route setters creating varying climbing routes for a new challenge every week, spacious exercise studio for stretching, yoga and other class-based workouts, climbing specific training systems. Other than that, controlled temperatures, clean air, library with climbing specific books and other books, changing rooms with hot water showers, hygienic toilets with and locker facilities, coffee and snacks and a place to hang out and socialise with friends. All of this gives one a more enjoyable experience of the sport.