According to a 1997 study published in the “British Journal of Sports Medicine” rock climbing (on an indoor wall) is simular to running at a moderate 8 to 11 min per mile pace (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9298558).
Its also known that climbing works most major muscle groups in the body and helps build strength and endurance. On the mental side it increases self confidence and provides great mental stimulation and problem solving challenges for the brain to work through. Socially the activity builds teamwork, communication, and grows a sense of comradery.
This past January I travelled to Mexico and had the opportunity to try my hand at rock climbing. (http://quickescapes.ca/trips/once-upon-time-mexico) I ended the article with the statement that I was going to find a rock climbing gym in Toronto and engage the sport a bit more. Andy, who took me out climbing in Mexico, was in Toronto for a visit so we went searching for a gym.
The Rock Oasis, on Carlaw Avenue, was a great place for my introduction to indoor climbing. It's located in a clean and renovated repurposed factory (head to the 2nd floor). The gym is divided into several sections, with several bays of climbing walls of varying difficulty to play in. There’s also a large area set up for bouldering with routes setup, again of varying difficulty. If you’re by yourself, there are several walls set up with an auto-belay system. Children are welcome too, in fact there's a large kids area with climbing walls and slides-which I’ll have to try on a future visit when no one's looking.
Andy and I got there around 1:30pm and it was very quiet. We signed our waivers and I received a great refresher on all the safety gear and proper belay technique. As a beginner I felt completely comfortable with the whole process. All of the staff we encountered were friendly, encouraging, and happy to assist. Andy, a very seasoned and competitive climber, mentioned that it was one of the better gyms she's visited.
We started out by stretching in the bouldering area then went over to the walls. Andy calls the walls “problems” as you need to use your head to find the right route to the top. The bouldering area, where you’re not tied in, is more “horizontal” climbing and allows the climber to focus on proper technique to get through it. We spent about 2 hours playing on the walls and in the bouldering area before my arms finally gave out and we retreated to the pub where we met Steve.
All in all a great spot, parking is available for bikes and cars, it's clean, friendly and fun. There’s something for all skill levels. I’ll definitely be back. Mentally I felt great after and it was a great workout. I highly recommend this quick escape to everyone.