ELITE CLIMBING67 E Kings Hwy
Maple Shade Township, NJ 08052 visit website>
Last year I wrote about Henry’s first go at indoor rock climbing. I am happy to say that he is climbing higher than ever, now that we have found the kid-friendly indoor rock gym Elite Climbing. Elite Climbing is in Maple Shade, NJ a few miles past the Cherry Hill Mall. Even though it is over the bridge for us it is worth the trip because I am no longer the mom cheering on her kids at the adult only rock gym while “hipster rockies” looked on annoyingly.
I am writing this post because I think indoor rock climbing can be an intimidating activity to consider but I am hoping to change that. Elite is where you want to go if your family rock climbs or if you want to learn. Most rock gyms do not love when kids are in their space – Elite is the exact opposite. In fact every Friday night is Kid’s Night. Parents can drop off their kids for two hours and they will climb and learn how to belay for each other depending on their age. They also throw some pretty awesome birthday parties complete with a zip line and parents racing each other up the walls with their kids cheering.
The staff at Elite is really friendly and great at teaching teens and adults how to belay. Simply put belaying is when you the parents stands at the bottom and controls the rope that is connected to your child’s harness. Your little one will climb up and then you will lower them down when they are ready.
Step #1. Learn to Belay
The first thing you want to do as a parent is learn how to belay. The staff will walk you through the entire process and then you will demonstrate the entire process back to them twice to show that you got it down. I happen to go alone without the boys when I went to learn how to belay. After I learned how to belay I climbed for the rest of the day and loved it. I climbed until my arms had nothing left.
Step #2. Harness Up the Kids
The owner Mina told me that moms usually are the ones that get a little nervous when they go to belay their own kids. Right away I thought… ah that so silly….us moms can be so silly. Ahhhh yeah did I eat my words. I belayed for an entire day with adults and as soon as Henry was hooked up I slightly froze. So yes that might happen but you get over it.
Once everyone is hooked up and you check to make sure everything is secure it is time for them to start climbing.
Step #3. The Climb
There is a special wall just for kids that has fun holds shaped like animals, dinosaurs, and shapes. This is where Henry wanted to spend most of his time. The holds are placed in really easy spots so it is like climbing a ladder for little kids. Henry made it right up to the top and hit the “that was easy” button. He did a little swinging and then I lowered him down.
Then we moved over to the adult walls. The coolest thing about watching Henry climb is when he hits a tough part and he sits back on the ropes to figure out his next move. He keeps trying until he reaches the top. When he is tired he takes a break right where he is and then keeps going. He always makes sure he gets to the top before he comes down. It is not always easy but he loves it.
Ollie on the other hand prefers to go half way up and then like to swing like Spider-Man the entire time. Honestly I am just thrilled he is participating.
Step #4. The Limit
We all know that younger kids have a limit. We also know that everything can be cool and then the limit is suddenly reached. Thankfully Elite has a row of comfy couches and chairs in the middle of gym and a set of sofas over on the side where they can eat their snacks. You can see them the entire time. For me this is a must because Ollie is a wildcard when it comes to participation.
Step #5. Not Happening?
Henry barely climbed the first time we took him last year. It took about two visits before he got really comfortable. I think it would have helped a lot if he would have seen kids his own age up their climbing. Ollie has the benefit of watching his older brother and wanting to do everything he does. The first thing we did to get Henry comfortable was compare rock climbing to being like Spider-Man. Then we told him if he reached a certain hold we would go and get milkshakes. He reach his goal and then yelled out to the entire gym “CAN WE GET MILKSHAKES NOW!” Now he climb just because he likes it.
Rock climbing is now a staple on our calendar and not only do we enjoy it but it tires our the boys nicely. Knock on wood that they keep up with it and they can belay for me one day.
Worth mentioning that I would actually like to go climbing instead of just belaying. Tuesday is ladies night at Elite so if anyone would like to join me please let me know. It is a good workout!
Your first trip to the gym can be a little tricky. So here is how you get there. Google will tell you it is 17 minutes from Philadelphia but with traffic it can take a solid 20-25 minutes but just because of lights.
1. Go over the Ben Franklin Bridge.
2. Slight left onto U.S. 30 E (signs for US 130/New Jersey 38/New Jersey 70/Cherry Hill)
3. Merge onto NJ-38 E/Kaighns Ave via the ramp on the left to NJ-70 E/Cherry Hill
4. Follow Rt. 38 East past the Cherry Hill Mall to the exit for Rt. 73 South/NJ Turnpike. You will want to be in the right lane because the turn is immediately after the Acura dealership.
5. Once you make the turn after the Acura dealership you will make the sharp right onto Old King’s Highway. Elite’s parking lot will be up 200 feet on the right.