It might not be glamorous but boy does it burn the calories; rock climbing is THE hottest workout on the celeb scene right now. InStyle’s very own fitness fanatic Claire Clifton Coles tells us why.

I’ll be honest, rock climbing wasn’t the first sport I’d thought of trying for a great workout - let’s just say heights aren’t really my thing - but it’s actually a fantastic way to keep fit and can burn anything from 400-700 calories an hour whilst toning every muscle in your body.  Not bad, right? It’s great for strengthening your core and before you’ve said, ‘I might actually have to invest in some of these climbing shoe things’, you’ll have a washboard stomach in no time!

And celebs love it as well. Lea Michelle, Kristen Bell and Suki Waterhouse are massive fans whilst Jennifer Aniston and Kristen Stewart have even used it to get in shape for movie roles. Getting your body honed and toned without hitting the treadmill? Yes, please.

I ventured to one of London’s many indoor climbing centres (there are some great ones all around the country) to give it a go.  Bouldering seemed like a good place to start as you only need climbing shoes (my faves are the Five Ten Anasazi in pink, £110, and the Five Ten Rogue, £75), a chalk bag, and to wear something you can move in like Arcteryx’s Senna Tank  and these fab Nike shorts. Top tip – stay away from the baggy sports shorts - flashing the audience below is not ideal. And don’t be intimidated, bouldering might seem hardcore but you don’t have to wear a harness and there are no ropes involved so it’s a lot less scary than it sounds.

If you’re a climbing newbie, check out an introductory class. The Westway, The Castle and The Arch offer some fantastic classes that teach you how to climb safely. The first time is a bit scary but your confidence quickly builds and it doesn’t seem so intimidating.  All the climbs are clearly marked with a difficulty rating so you can start on the easy grades. I started out fairly shakey but kept going and really started getting into it, it’s a great sense of satisfaction when you reach the top and start working up to harder climbs.  You really feel like you’re using your whole body, not just your arms.  Trust me, when you wake up with everything aching, you’ll know you’ve been climbing!

I enjoyed bouldering so much I started top rope climbing…much higher walls but you’re in a harness and attached to a rope. Again, all centres will run courses or give you lessons. It definitely takes some getting used to and coming down is quite scary the first time but you’ll soon be scaling the walls and the longer climbs really help you build up your stamina!

After a month of climbing I can definitely notice the difference. My legs and bum are more toned and my stomach is the flattest it’s been in years! My stamina and strength have improved hugely as well. I’m stronger but leaner – the Hulk look isn’t really my thing.

Next up for me is lead roping; a lot more like climbing outside as you take the rope up with you and attach it as you go. This is definitely one for the more experienced climber but I’m looking forwards to the challenge. Onwards and upwards, I say!


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By Claire Clifton Coles/@CC_Coles