Indoor Climbing is an ideal sport for the autumn months when the weather is not as reliable. It provides numerous benefits including use of your entire body, stretching muscles that you do not get to exert in other sports and improvements in flexibility and body strength.
The sport relies on having a climbing buddy or sports partner, whose role it is to control your rope as you ascend and descend, otherwise known as "belaying". They play an important safety role as can stop or break any falls and can offer a helping hand with advice about which is the best route to go up the wall.
There are three types of climbing to try out. Top rope climbing is where the rope is already in place through anchors on the top of the wall. The climber is attached to one side of it and using a set of holds for the hands and feet is able to climbs up the wall.
Lead climbing is when you climb taller walls, but you bring your own rope and as you climb you have to clip your rope into pre placed carabiners on the wall. This is a bit more technical as you have to let go with one hand to clip the rope through.
Lastly bouldering is where you climb without a rope, usually traversing, but you don't climb too high up. There are usually mats underneath that help make the fall a little more comfortable.
There is an excellent London climbing scene with many different climbing centres to try out. Check out Find Sport Club/Venue on this site for your nearest climbing centre in London and what facilities are provided. Most leisure centres have several walls to try out with varying height and technical complexity (some with overhanging walls which require great upper body strength and skill).
Castle Climbing and Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre in London are very well known indoor climbing locations.
The best way to start indoor climbing is to go down to your local leisure centre or climbing centre and sign up for an introductory course. They will advise you on safety techniques, how to use the equipment and give you ample opportunities to practice.
When you are starting out you need very little, as all the equipment you need (chalk bags, belay device, carabiner, rope and harness) is usually included in your course price. It is recommended that you purchase your own climbing shoes which fit well and are comfortable.
The British Mountaineering Council (BMC) is the official body for climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers.