Say goodbye to cabin fever and take your fitness to new heights.
peter stancato nosotros indoor climbing gym founder
Credit: Courtesy of Nosotros Rock Climbing Gym

Midwesterners with January exercise goals have a distinct disadvantage—the weather. If stationary bikes and bicep curls don't excite, consider indoor climbing. The sport is unexpectedly beginner-friendly and provides a truly holistic workout. Scaling a wall builds physical strength, mobility and flexibility. It also stimulates and focuses the mind through problem-solving: When you're deciding which ledge or foothold to grab next, you can't think about anything else.

man climbing nosotros rock climbing gym
north mass boulder indoor climbing
Left: In Cleveland, Nosotros Rock Climbing Gym has two locations and an especially welcoming vibe. The nonprofit model supports a variety of local causes, large and small. | Credit: Courtesy of Nosotros Rock Climbing Gym
Right: Classes at North Mass Boulder, a new facility in the Bottleworks District of Indianapolis, focus on endurance, power, strength and stability. | Credit: Courtesy of North Mass Boulder

That's why stress subsides as you persevere through a route, says Peter Stancato, founder of the nonprofit Nosotros Rock Climbing Gym in Cleveland. After trying climbing at a pre-wedding gathering, he opened Nosotros as a welcoming space where strangers can become community.

woman indoor climb iowa rock wall
woman movement indoor climbing chicago
Left: With 200 routes, Climb Iowa is the state's largest climbing gym, just north of Des Moines. A satellite location downtown specializes in bouldering—lower heights, but without ropes. | Credit: Dylan Huey
Right: Last fall, national chain Movement opened its first Midwest outposts in Chicago's Wrigleyville and Lincoln Park. Weight and cardio areas overlook colorful climbing walls. | Credit: Michael “M” Hecker

"We love how climbing is deeply relational," Stancato says. Don climbing shoes (most gyms rent them) and join a beginner's class, then try substituting climbing for one or two workouts each week. 

3 Tips for New Climbers

Get Friendly

Bring pals the first time, and plan to make new ones on the wall. Climbers like to help beginners get a grip on things, and chatting adds to the enjoyment.

Look Ahead

Climbing puts your body in unnatural positions—and high up! Prevent panic by focusing on what's in front of you and the physical sensations you're feeling.

Keep Going

Every new climber feels physically challenged and a little self-conscious. Learning to remove the barriers you create for yourself is one of the rewards.