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Sport reaches new heights.

One of the kingdom's popular indoor active entertainment centres has launched an introductory climbing course to encourage people to take up the sport, to help them reach new heights with ease as well as find a fun new way to get fit, stay healthy and strong.

The 6,000sqft Adventure Hub, located at the Galleria Mall in Zinj, is offering family-friendly recreational activities with a full-size obstacle course, high ropes course, low ropes course, rock climbing wall, low climbing wall, fun walls, caving and a soft play area.

According to Alex Lisnyak, the centre's operations and development manager, climbing is one of the fastest growing global sports and is particularly popular in the US and throughout Europe.

He has noticed a rising interest in the region and believes that once rock climbing makes its debut in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo with speed climbing, bouldering and lead climbing, more will jump on the height-scaling bandwagon.

"We are trying to build a climbing community here," explained Alex. "We have a lot of customers and families that climb on a regular basis because they enjoy the sport, it is great practice for the real thing and they can have a great time together.

"We started Adventure Hub to provide more active entertainment in Bahrain. Basically, to pull the children away from their video games, TV and electronic devices and to bring them into an active environment and let them have fun doing something different, rather than sitting on the couch. It will help develop their physical and mental abilities which I believe is so important for future generations.

"The difference with this location is that they can get active and fit, mixed with fun. It's what climbing is all about!

"Also, as of 2020, climbing will be an Olympic sport and I think it will gain even more popularity as a result. That's when we came up with the idea to not just make climbing recreational or entertaining, but also to introduce it as a competitive sport."

The Introduction to Rock Climbing programme features six 90-minute lessons in which climbers aged 11 and older learn how to use different equipment, climb and prepare themselves to tackle any situation.

Alex believes the Rocktopia Wall is a great introductory climbing facility. It provides five climbing routes of varying difficulties for beginners, intermediate level and advanced sport climbers.

Alex said: "Itis made using a replication of one of the real rocks of Bulgaria and the surface is made exactly like limestone. I believe this wall is an ideal introduction level for climbing.

"We have equipped it with anchor points, which are certified by the Arizona Rope Service Company, and brought real climbing equipment such as ropes, ascenders, descenders and harnesses.

"Then we will teach them how real climbing is done!

"If someone wants to one day go climbing outdoors in Europe, for example, this class will give them the basic skills. It will give them a clear understanding of the different aspects of the sport, such as lead climbing and speed climbing.

"The individual will learn basic techniques, body positioning and how to climb. Helpfully, I also have automatic belay systems, a device that takes up the slack as a climber ascends the climbing wall. When the climber reaches the top, or if they fall, the auto belay catches the climber and slowly lowers them to the ground."

Alex also describes rock climbing as a 'challenging sport' that tests both physical and mental stamina. Experts suggest it can also reduce stress as well as test body and mind endurance, strength, agility and balance. It's considered one of the best total body workouts you can do and offers mega benefits.

"This is a great, new and certainly not boring way to keep fit," he added. "People are always searching for new ways to stay healthy and lose weight and the answer, in my opinion, is climbing. It's not just physical though; there are a lot of mental aspects to it too such as fighting with your fear of heights or even stipulating your route which can be even more important than your strength.

"Very often girls are better at climbing than boys because often boys will use their strength or even jump towards the next point. Women on the other hand, they will sit, think and then climb, if they can't figure out the route the first time. Most often than not, they will be even more successful."

An introductory class is held twice daily during the week from 3pm to 4.30pm and from 5pm to 6.30pm. One class costs BD10 and to book all six lessons in advance, it is priced BD50. The hub is open every day from 10am-11pm, with a variety of other packages on offer. For more details, call 77103355 and follow on Facebook and Instagram @adventurehubme

The last time reporter Mai Al Khatib-Camille scaled a wall was in 2013 in the car park of Al A'ali Shopping Complex during the the Ministry of Culture's 2013 Season of Sport, alongside more than 300 of Bahrain's adrenaline junkies and sport fanatics. It was a thrilling experience, she said at the time, and told

Editor Stan she would definitely do it again ... and six years later she got her chance.

I didn't think twice. I rushed home, changed into my workout gear and got ready to face that climb with strength, agility and, hopefully, some grace.

I'm a bit of a clutz and was worried I'd end up tangling myself up with the climbing rope or worse.

As an instructor got me into a harness, Alex explained how there are two people involved in this climbing adventure - the climber and the belayer, the person entrusted to hold the rope.

Alex then reminded me to take my time, think about the moves I'll be making to reach the top and, should I get scared or want to come down, simply shout 'Take'.

That term is used when the climber wants the belayer to take their weight on the rope and lower him or her down to the ground slowly.

After taking a deep breath, I turned to the beginner route, prayed a little and set off on my way. It started off slow and steady with me gripping onto the blue and white coloured footholds ... but then I hit my own personal wall.

I was stuck half way up, not sure whether to scream 'TAKE' or continue the climb. My palms were sweaty, my arms were beginning to shake and I couldn't tell if was from fear or achiness.

I felt like I was in a video game assessing all my options. I started to climb again and showed photographer Honey Sharma I was no quitter as I made it to the top.

The adrenaline was insane and I was more than willing to scale the wall again. I think I've found a new hobby.

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Publication:Gulf Weekly
Date:Feb 13, 2019
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