If you’re like me, the mere thought of ice skating, sledding or any other outdoor winter sport is enough to make your teeth chatter. Yet, while it’s tempting to make popcorn and watch a movie with your kids every weekend, research tells us (and common sense confirms) that it’s important for them to get daily exercise (getting up to refill the popcorn bowl doesn’t count).
An option that serves as a way for parents to get in on the action with their kids (because let’s face it, the bounce house is not for you) is rock climbing. It’s an activity you can do together, and it’s tops in “building muscle strength, balance and self-esteem,” says Barbara Lawrence of New Jersey Rock Gym in Fairfield. The climbing facilities listed below are kid-friendly, don’t require membership and are, of course, completely indoors.
- The Gravity Vault, Upper Saddle River; 201-934-7625, ages five and up (additional locations in Chatham, Flemington, Hoboken, Middletown and Voorhees)
- High Exposure Rock Climbing, Northvale; 201-768-8600, ages five and up
- Elite Climbing, Maple Shade; 856-273-1370, ages six and up
- New Jersey Rock Gym, Fairfield; 973-439-9860, ages five and up
Liberty Science Center, Jersey City; 201-200-1000, call ahead for ages
- The Edge Sports Center, Flemington; 908-432-0783, ages five and up
- Rockville Climbing Center, Hamilton; 609-631-7625, call ahead for ages
- Middlesex Gymnastics Academy, East Brunswick; 732-249-6422, ages six and up for indoor climbing classes
- Garden State Rocks, Morganville; 732-972-3003, ages five and up
- Diamond Rock, East Hanover; 973-560-0414, call ahead for ages
- Randolph Climbing Center, Randolph; 973-598-8555, call ahead for ages
- Elite Gymnastics, Hawthorne; 973-423-4040, ages three and up
- Summit YMCA, Summit; 908-273-3330, ages seven and up
Rock Climbing to New Heights
Kids often need a belayer, meaning someone to control the ropes. Most gyms don’t let guests belay until they’re teenagers. You can take a one-time lesson at some facilities and belay for them, or a staff member can do the belaying. Call at least 24 hours in advance to check belayer availability.
Some places have special family packages or times. Visit the facility’s website or call for details.
If your child falls in love with rock climbing, find out about the facility’s membership packages, monthly passes, classes, camps and teams. It just might be the activity that propels her to new heights!