Today Urban Sports Club went to Berlin’s newest underground location for a particularly sweaty session. In the heart of Potsdamer Platz behind Lidl and right next to a café is the brand new studio, where you can let off steam after work or at the weekend with friends. And today is a special day because the Basement Bouldering Studio opens its doors for the USC Community Event.
Urban Sports Clubs’ community events are a great opportunity to meet like-minded sports fanatics in your city, learn new skills and discover partner locations. Today three trained climbing professionals from Basement Boulderstudio explained the basics of bouldering to us, showed us climbing walls and put our skills to the test.
The Urban Sports Club event dream team welcomes the participants in front of the door of the studio and hands out USC shirts. Basement bouldering studio is cool in every way: One of the great advantages of having the studio in the basement is that the temperature can be well regulated all year round – so the room always has the perfect temperature for climbing. It also looks cool: with the black and white aesthetics and industrial decor, it feels like you’re in a Berlin underground club.
It is 10 o’clock in the morning (impressively early for Berliners) when around 50 USC members meet in the café of the bouldering hall – to chat and get to know each other. I’m talking to some people from Munich who are bouldering for the first time today. I declare that this is the perfect event today to learn bouldering, because the USC Community Events are suitable for all levels. Shortly afterwards, USC event hero Dario welcomes all participants. “It’s nice that you came,” he says, “today you will be taught the basics of bouldering. You learn the technique, have a lot of time to try it out and afterwards we have special guests from BlackRoll who show you how to roll out your fascia. And then… lunch! ”
We follow the bouldering instructors onto the mats and begin a challenging warm-up with jumping jacks, push-ups and challenging shoulder exercises. Then we split up into teams of 12 people each.
Luke shows us how to climb. By keeping our body close to the wall and rotating with every movement, we can maintain balance. Then he shows us how to fall properly. Just land on your feet and roll backwards on your bum – doesn’t sound that difficult, does it? We take turns trying and I unexpectedly really enjoy it.
We start climbing the green routes, but it doesn’t take long before it becomes too easy for us and we move on to the yellow routes. We split up into teams of 2 and 3 to test our climbing limits and to explore the rest of the gigantic bouldering hall. I’m going out with Jackie and Tom, a couple who are also very fresh at bouldering. We try different routes together and encourage each other to keep going. On a route I’m suddenly stuck halfway and don’t know how to get on. But Tom helps me and tells me where to move my leg to get to the next grip so that I can get to the top, the so-called “top”. Without his help I definitely would not have made it and I am very grateful that he was there.
Bouldering can make you very happy. The routes are called “problems” because you have to figure out how to get to the top. I try a route and may not manage it right away, but it works the second time – it can be addicting.
Chris Redlich is one of four founders of the Basement Bouldering Studio. He tells me that it took almost four years to find this location. Laser tag used to be played here. Chris started bouldering in 2012 and was thrilled from day one. “It was like someone flipped a switch in my head. I knew that I had found my sport. ”
Before bouldering, Chris played volleyball and did judo, but bouldering is what really is his thing. “There’s the physical part, the mental part, like the risk – and then there’s the problem solving. And every route is different. ”
Chris met Thomas and Fabi, the owners of Bright Site, when he started teaching rock climbing there. Thomas and Fabi told Chris that they want to open a more centrally located bouldering studio that is accessible for climbers of all levels – and easy to get to. “That was our intention,” says Chris. “Don’t exclude people based on their fitness level or where they live in the city.”
But it’s not just the location that sets Basement Boulderstudio apart from other bouldering halls. “Every bouldering hall in Berlin is full and overcrowded,” says Chris. “There’s a lot of space here. We learned that it is very important to have enough space between the walls so that people do not fall on top of others. ” Chris says climbers actually spend about 80% of the time on the ground on the mat – they look at the wall and try to solve the problem from a distance. “If the mats aren’t big enough, the hall can quickly feel crowded, even if there is nobody on the walls.”
There is no danger of this here. Chris and his co-founders made it possible to create enough space for people to climb and also a training opportunity. He says the demand for exercise options has increased in recent years, but space is very limited in most bouldering halls. “Here we have 150 square meters of training space,” says Chris.
Basement bouldering studio aims to make bouldering accessible to everyone. “We also have an LED wall for beginners,” says Chris. “There is a grille and there is a light under each hole. So you can practice different routes. There are two different angles. People who are not super strong can also try their hand at it. We have many here who are interested. Nobody who wants to move forward should feel left out – our exercise machines are not just for the elite. ” You can feel this feeling of openness all the time, because the friendly trainers and the manageable routes help you to feel completely at ease.
Around 12:30 p.m., after almost two hours of climbing, we meet on the training ground for the BlackRoll part of the event. We spend the next 45 minutes using hard foam balls and rollers to roll out our muscles from head to toe to work our fascia. It is shocking how painful these exercises are, but as explained by our trainer Leon, “these exercises are important in ensuring that our muscles can recover in a healthy way”. During the BlackRoll training I get to know the girl next to me. She is from Canada and has a pained face like me. Between all the painful moans, we talk about our lack of flexibility and our shared love for tarte flambée.
Then it’s time for a well-deserved lunch of vegan and vegetarian bagels. We all take home a USC goodie bag full of insect snacks (no joke!) And healthy smoothie shots. When I leave the bouldering studio and feel refreshed and energetic, I say goodbye to my new friends with the feeling that nothing can drag me down this afternoon.