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Bouldering - climbing rocks without ropes or harnesses - has been gaining popularity steadily in many parts of the world.
In New York, the activity has exploded in places such as Central Park, according to The Wall Street Journal, while in Europe and Asia the sport is seen as an independent alternative to sweating it out in traditional gym classes.
Interest has also soared among Dubai residents over the past three years, so much so that an indoor bouldering facility called Rock Republic was established in a warehouse in Dubai Investment Park in June last year.
Pete Aldwinckle, owner of Global Climbing, an outdoor adventure equipment distributor, set it up when the garage in his home in The Springs, which he had adapted for climbing, became too small to cope with the numbers that flocked in. Rock Republic represents Walltopia - a Bulgarian company that builds customized artificial climbing walls - in the region.
''The facility serves three purposes: it showcases all the equipment available from Global Climbing, so we get constructive feedback from customers, it's a serious training and educational facility for the climbing and fitness fraternity of the UAE, and it promotes awareness of climbing as a sport.''
It also serves as a social hub for like-minded people. ''People come here not just to train to climb mountains, but because of the friendly atmosphere and a full body workout.''
This is not a mall-type entertainment facility for the general public; it is only available on a membership basis. People of all ages can participate. Each new member initially attends a safety induction with basic instructions, risk factors and how to avoid injuries and strains.
Rock Republic has more than 250 square metres of climbing space, most of which has 40cm-thick mats underneath to soften falls. The highest wall is 4.5 metres tall and the layout includes 85-degree slopes and overhangs of up to three metres.
Aldwinckle says, ''Bouldering is all about exploring difficult routes, moving across the wall and working out which is the best path to choose. It's about using techniques to your advantage. It's mentally stimulating for it pushes you to solve problems - where to step and how to hold your body.
''It's a great way for reasonably fit people who are prepared to challenge themselves to maintain their fitness levels in a non-competitive way,'' he adds.
The facility serves to educate, promote awareness of the sport and it promotes the need to develop safety rules and standards in the region. Training is delivered by experienced, qualified climbers holding internationally-recognised climbing or mountaineering certificates under their belts, the Single Pitch Award (SPA) being the minimum requirement.
Global Climbing represents a number of international brands in rock climbing, outdoor lifestyle, adventure travel and kayaking and also supplies industrial rope access equipment.
Aldwinckle believes the potential for developing more public facilities for bouldering in urban areas in the UAE is huge and would serve residents well as it can help alleviate some of the health issues associated with sedentary lifestyles.
Go for either a ten-visit pass or other membership deals. It is open from 5.30-9.30pm on weekdays (closed on Sundays) and 1-8pm on weekends.
The rental rate for a property such as this is around Dh33-Dh35 per square foot depending on condition.
Click on Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah and read about the Peacock Alley at Ras Al Khaimah
Source: Cheryl Robertson, Features Writer, Property Weekly