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. While it’s tempting to make popcorn and watch a movie with your kids every weekend, research tells us 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 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. Some places have special family packages or times. Visit the facility’s website or call for details.
- High Exposure Rock Climbing, Northvale; 201-768-8600, all ages
- Elite Climbing, Maple Shade; 856-273-1370, ages 6 and up
- New Jersey Rock Gym, Fairfield; 973-439-9860, ages 5 and up
Liberty Science Center, Jersey City; 201-200-1000, call for age requirements
- The Gravity Vault, Flemington; 908-237-3249, ages 5 and up (additional locations in Chatham, Hoboken, Middletown, Upper Saddle River and Voorhees; Brick opening soon)
- Rockville Climbing Center, Hamilton; 609-631-7625, ages 7 and up
- Middlesex Gymnastics Academy, East Brunswick; 732-249-6422, ages 6 and up for indoor climbing classes
- Garden State Rocks, Morganville; 732-972-3003, ages 5 and up
- Diamond Rock Gym, 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 3 and up
Take 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 it. Call at least 24 hours in advance to check belayer availability.
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!