The Unwritten Rules of the Gym Blog Feature

By: Movement

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The Unwritten Rules of the Gym

Hey there, (soon to be) climber! We know it can be intimidating to come into a new space,  especially since it feels like there are always unwritten rules and etiquette that everyone but you seems to know. So, to help, we are writing those "rules" down for you!

Our intro classes are also a great way to learn etiquette and get a first look into the gym with the help of our staff! 

10 Unspoken Rules of Climbing

  1. Empty your pockets and take off your jewelry. Your pockets may seem fine on the ground but when you are at different angles, they may be suddenly less secure. Rings and other jewelry can also get tangled up so it is safer to climb without. 
  2. Take your climbing shoes off when you go into the bathroom. Because climbing shoes touch the walls where hands also go, it is good etiquette to not use the restroom when you are wearing them. Switch to your street shoes instead.
  3. Watch the wall! Whether you are bouldering, rope climbing, or walking around, always be mindful of where you are. There may be people above you, next to you or behind you who are in a situation where they can't move so keep an eye open.
    • If you are the one who can't move out of the way because you are belaying, let the person know!
    • When you are near the bouldering area, stay off the mats or away from the wall when you are not actively climbing.
    • Give people room! You never know where someone might land or swing to so better to stay away from the walls when possible. Try to not walk between a belayer and the wall. 
    • Make sure to watch your water bottles, phones, or other items in addition to yourself. Keeping items in cubbies or out of the way of where people might fall or walk can help everyone stay safer. 
  4. Watch for your kids! Kids are great climbers and have so much fun but they also might not be paying as much attention to the above situations. Make sure you are watching out for them and helping them learn the above! After-school programs or private coaching are great ways of letting the gyms explore the gym with staff and instructors.
  5. When is it your turn to get on the wall?
    • When you are bouldering and you are trying not to crowd the walls, it can be hard to know whose turn it is. Look around and ask!
    • If you are on ropes, ask the belayer if they are switching. Feel free to wait for a rope but make sure to let the belayer know you are "in line"; otherwise, if someone else asks first, it might go to them.
  6. Who has the right of way? The first person on the wall has right of way which means if your climbs overlap and you don't have right of way, you may have to stop your climb to let the other person work through their section. If they are resting on that section, ask to climb past before you do. Staggering starts can also help keep this to a minimum!
  7. Be mindful of your time on a climb. If the gym is busy, and you are on a problem or route, be mindful that other people might be waiting to try too. Also - there may be people waiting so make sure to look around. 
  8. Try not to distract belayers - a quick "are you switching" is fine but remember, belayers should be paying attention to their climber so they may not be able to have a long conversation.
  9. Talking Beta - one of the things people like about climbing is the challenge of figuring out how to do the next move. Those moves are called beta. A lot of climbers talk beta, share beta, look for beta or have their own secret beta for a climb but the key to that is making sure it is wanted before sharing. Sometimes, you might be excited to share beta with someone who you see struggling but it is not always welcome. Make sure to ask before you share beta!
  10. When in doubt, ask! Most climbers are more than happy to offer advice to someone who is just starting. We've all been there!

This may seem like a lot but don't worry! It can be embarrassing to make a mistake but it is something we all do sometimes. Learn from it and before you know it, you will be a gym etiquette expert!

At the end of the day - the best climber is the one who is having the most fun. We'll see you soon!


Two Bonus Tips: 

  1. Stand closer to the wall when you belay. While it can be tempting to rest against something or try to get the rope out of the way of your climber but if you stand too far away from the wall a few things happen:
    • You can block other climbers/belayers from using parts of the wall
    • You may block "pedestrians" trying to move around the gym, and may force them to walk under a climber which is something 
  2. You might see people wearing headphones while you climb - that is fine! BUT - if you are wearing headphones, make sure you can still hear! Communication is important in climbing, it is important you can hear people around you for safety.