VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The climbing walls at Latitude Climb and Fitness might look challenging, and even scary, to a beginner, as the walls tower at a height of roughly 56 feet.
However, Marisa Beck, owner of the gym, said experienced climbers aren't the only one taking on the climbing walls.
"They come on in, they try it, you don't have to go to the top, and certainly some people choose to come down," Beck explained.
In fact, she said children as young as 2 years old attempt to rock climb. Other enthusiasts include young adults, parents and everybody in between.
Beck said trepidation may strike a beginner before climbing the gym's walls, but once they accomplish the climb, they want more.
"It's a great way to stay fit, try something new,” Beck said. "It gets the blood flowing, gets your heart pumping, and it's a great sport to get into."
Rock climbing provides both a cardio and strength workout. Users will no doubt feel the use of their muscles as they climb.
"There's also tons of studies lately that have come out about it decreasing your depression, anxiety, and helping kids focus who have ADHD,” Beck said.
The walls are flat, studded with rocks that serve as hand- and footholds on the way up.
Before someone attempts to climb, safety is important and should be observed. First are the special climbing shoes that climbers should use.
The shoes are mandatory at facilities like Latitude, as sneakers are not permitted.
"That will help give you extra-sticky grip as you're climbing up the wall,” Beck said.
A harness is also needed. Climbers put it on like a pair of tights, then attach it to a long rope that provides support on the climb and allows you to rappel back to the ground safely.
Beck also demonstrated one climbing section of the facility that did not have ropes or require a harness. Users can scale this wall freely, but it's not as tall as the other walls.
The facility is also taking steps to ensure safety against the spread of the coronavirus. They have a sanitization machine that continuously sanitizes the air and surfaces.
Latitude Climb and Fitness has two locations, one in Norfolk at 1830 Lindsay Avenue, and a second location in Virginia Beach at 4554 Virginia Beach Boulevard, next to the Pembroke Mall.
More information can be found on its website.