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Destination Recreation: Indoor Rock Climbing - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Destination Recreation: Indoor Rock Climbing

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

At Petra Cliffs in Burlington, these climbers are getting an alternative workout, testing their bodies and minds.

"Instead of traditional going to a gym and running on the treadmill, I think it's kind-of along the lines of yoga being so popular," says Steve Charest, the owner and lead guide at Petra Cliffs. "It's just a full-body workout, and it gets you involved mentally and physically."

Charest says there was a time when becoming a climber in Vermont meant having a mentor to teach you where the best spots were, but now there are guidebooks and places like Petra Cliffs for anyone to get started.

"In the last two years we've seen more and more families, we've seen more membership, it's definitely been a very growing sport," he says.

And when you're getting on the wall, safety comes first, with harnesses, buckles, clips and communication.

Charest: "So the first thing you're going to ask me is on belay, which is a fancy way of saying are you going to catch me if I fall."

Reporter: "On belay."

Charest: "All right, I check the whole system so I'm checking, anchor looks good, your buckles, everything looks good, my buckles look good, carabiner -- mine's locked, is yours locked?"

Reporter: "Mine's locked."

Charest: "Belay is on. And then you say climbing."

Reporter: "Climbing."

Charest: "Climb on -- you're ready to go."

Charest says he tries not to over-teach, especially with kids, who just like to get on the wall and learn as they go. The same is true for me.

"The big thing is that this is not about how strong you are in your arms, it's about your feet," he says. "Think about it more like climbing a ladder -- the more you can use your legs the better. So when you climb a ladder you should do no pullups -- here you should do no pullups. So look with your feet, step up with your legs -- perfect. And almost at any point you should be able to let go and basically just almost find a balance point on your feet. Your hands are just strictly there to add a third point."

And when you reach the top you get to ring the bell, and then you have to sit back and come down again.

"That's the scariest part of the whole thing. Now I'm just going to start lowering you nice and slowly and you just walk down the wall," Charest says.

But the best thing about climbing indoors is that there's someone catching you when you try a course that's out of your league.

"There are different climbs for every ability, from kids to adults to professional climbers, so you can kind-of train for whatever you need to do," he says.

Getting a nontraditional workout no matter the weather outside.

For more information about climbing and classes you can visit their website: http://www.petracliffs.com/

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