I do not like heights (I love the flatlands) and actually in my lifetime have only climbed a few trees. However, it’s a new year, and the 29 foot climbing wall at the University of Toledo’s Recreation Center has always received good buzz for complexity and fun. The lumpy, boulder-like structure looks like a huge mosaic art piece covered in colorful molded hand and foot holds. “It is a cool way for adults and kids to get a full body workout here at the Rec,” says Alex Spinks, UT Rec Center Program Coordinator. Spinks says the best control and balance come from using your thighs, legs and core muscles.
Colored tape pieces near the holds serve as markers to guide climbers on various routes along the wall. I decided to give it a try and, with my eye on the orange tape, hoisted myself off the safety of the blue foam flooring to try some bouldering, moving horizontally, not up, across the wall.
From my new perspective a few feet off the ground, I grunt and teeter along, thinking ‘Hey, this is very cool; an interactive puzzle for my muscles and brain.’ I watch in envy as Toledoan Torey Hickman, who comes here often to climb and take part in competitions, makes it look so easy. “It’s great concentrated exercise, a challenge like no other sport and the opportunity to compete just adds to the fun,” he says as he skillfully goes from hold to hold.
Anyone can come and boulder during posted hours ($9 rec center day pass required, children 5 years and up must be accompanied by an adult, and all must wear clean tennis shoes) but if you want to top rope (climb vertically) you must attend a Climb Clinic ($5) to learn to “belay” (using the ropes and harness and spotting another climber), as well as purchase a climb card (rates vary).
The UT Recreation Center also has a running and walking track, basketball, volleyball and racket ball courts, a full service gym, and a gorgeous pool area with a slide available to the public by purchasing a day pass or a single or family membership.
The University of Toledo Recreation Center, 2800 E. Rocket Dr. 419-530-3700. Use parking lot 18. For map of the campus visit utoledo.edu/campus/directions/pdfs/MainCampusMap.pdf. Climbing wall open Monday thru Thursday, 5-9pm, and Friday thru Sunday, 1-5pm. Staff belay times are Monday and Wednesday, 7-9pm and Friday, 3-5pm. For complete details visit the website at utrecenter.com