The city now boasts South India’s tallest indoor rock climbing wall, at Pallikaranai.
We are no strangers to the concept of climbing walls. When the weather isn’t as hot, the 30-foot wall at The Royal Madras Yacht Club (by Adventure n Nature) attracts many enthusiasts. Now, there’s a new one on the other side of town. South India’s tallest indoor climbing wall, the 35-footer at Fit Rock Arena in Pallikaranai was launched on May 1 and one can already spot climbers dangling off the handholds, trying to figure out the best way to the top. The city’s first rock climbing gym is the initiative of two friends, Shyam Sundar and Sathya Narayana Prasad. “We wanted to get more people into climbing and build a community,” says Sundar, adding the project took two years to complete since they had to source much of the materials from abroad and rope in experts to help design the yellow and black mammoth.
A sports and fitness enthusiast—Sundar played hockey at the district level, was into boxing and, while completing his masters in construction management in the UK, took up gymming, too—the 26-year-old began climbing in 2013. “Whenever I came down from Mumbai, where I was working with JMC Projects, Sathya (co-founder of CRC, the Chennai Rock Climbers group) would invite me to go climbing. It gives you a high like no other. When you finish a route, there is a sense of achievement; it also boosts your confidence and makes you stronger, both mentally and physically,” he shares. Now, though he works with his father in the family construction business, the gym is his focus. “Before we started, we visited Bengaluru’s Kanteerava Stadium, which has a 50-foot outdoor wall, and sought help from coach Manikandan Kumar, the country’s only para-climbing world champion. We also approached Ranga Vutukuru in Hyderabad, who has a 25-foot wall. They helped us with the design and structure,” he says.
Fit Rock Arena also has zones for strength training and Zumba. “Since climbing only exerts the pulling muscles, you need to work out the rest, too, for better performance. Zumba is also good to increase flexibility,” informs Sundar. Currently Prasad and Sundar are the main trainers, along with two other CRC climbers (all four completed their fitness and functional training course at Sparrc Institute). “Safety is key. We review our ropes and harnesses before each climb,” he says. While both beginners and veterans can use the same wall, the handholds will be changed according to their experience.
Rs 3,000 for a month. Two-hour sessions at Rs 500. Details: 9962357035
—Surya Praphulla Kumar