Way back in the misty memories of time I grew up. I climbed trees – not very well. I balanced on poles and pretended to be a tightrope walker. I rode my bicycle for miles.
I know the world is a different place for my children. I know I can’t let them walk the 50 metres down the road to the play park on their own because of the drug dealers in pleasant Sandton suburbia. The last time I allowed them to walk to their friend’s house on the next block they interrupted a car hijacking.
These days they climb the trees around in our garden. Their world is smaller, more protected, more dangerous.
You may not think playing outside is all that important, but it is.
It builds core strength, which means your child can sit in a chair in a classroom and concentrate.
In my children’s schools so many of their classmates need occupational therapy and physiotherapy simply because they have low muscle tone.
All they need is a pair of rollerblades, a bike and somewhere to ride them.
Part of this choice was motivated by the fact that his father is a keen climber – or was until most of the places he’d go to were closed because of muggings, murder and rape.
The other motivation was his fear of heights and his utter bloody minded commitment to beating it.
Climbing has given my son incredible confidence and helped him in his love of karate and water polo.
His core strength has grown incredibly and his self-awareness in terms of focus and discipline has positively impacted all aspects of his life from his academic grades to sense of personal responsibility.
When I met my husband I spent many sunny afternoons ogling him climb at Northcliff, the Wilds and other local places. As they became more and more dangerous he had to go further and further afield to find anywhere to climb.
There are fantastic indoor climbing walls around, but nine that really served out area and fitted in with our already tight schedules. Three kids = Time lean.
Tucked into Commerce Crescent behind the Action Sports Arena is a small cul de sac where you can find Rockfit Functional Training Facility.
Troy and Devin Sender realised that Sandtonites needed somewhere close by to train and that children needed a place they could go to climb safely. Over the last year their dream has become a reality.
The brothers have created a welcoming space that is not intimidating or pretentious.
There is a little coffee nook for moms like me to plug in their laptops and sip cappuccinos while trying to ignore their offspring channelling their inner Spiderman.
As well as superb climbing walls they also offer classes in kettleballs and cross training as well as hosting birthday parties and corporate events.
What really sold me on them though?
The fact that they have raised enough money to neuter and spay the stray cats on the premises.
That and the posters warning you to check under your car for sleeping felines.
Our kids may not be able to play outdoors as much as we did, but there are other options that will grow their strength, confidence and provide them with enormous fun in the bargain.
Find them: 2 Commerce Place, Kramerville, Sandton
Call them: 011 262 4292
Email them: firstname.lastname@example.org
Like them: Facebook
Other fantastic climbing gyms in Johannesburg include:
SA Climbing Academy at St Peter’s School in Bryanston
Adrenaline Rush in Little Falls – Falls Rd Little Falls, just of Hendrik Potgieter Ave. Contact Jaco-Louis on 083 419 5850.
Wonderwall in Kya Sands