A new indoor climbing centre is bringing the latest fitness craze of bouldering to East Oxford.

Gallery Bouldering is based in The Gallery, the former Blackwell’s journal repository, in Marston Street which was converted from office space over 18 months.

Bouldering is a type of climbing that is rapidly growing in popularity which involves scaling low walls (called “problems” or “blocs”) without ropes or harnesses.

As well as benefiting strength and fitness, it is very accessible for beginners.

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It became an Olympic sport at Tokyo 2020 and the climbing finals at this summer's Paris Olympics will be shown live on Gallery Bouldering’s big screen in August.

Gallery Bouldering has opened in the former Blackwell's journal repository (Image: Ed Nix)

Gallery Bouldering was founded by a team of three, including two long time Oxford residents, Aeron Buchanan and Jamie Wakeham.

Aeron studied Engineering and started climbing during his DPhil studies. A key source of inspiration was Fontainebleau, just south of Paris, which is his favourite climbing destination.

Jamie has been rock climbing much longer, almost 30 years, and in that time has climbed all over the world, including in the Alps and the Himalaya.

He has recorded new routes in Cornwall, Skye, Morocco and Norway and contributed to many guide books.

He is currently writing a guide book for climbing in the UK. He has been a qualified climbing instructor for 16 years, alongside a career teaching Maths and physics.

Mr Wakeham, who runs the centre, said: “Climbing in general, but bouldering in particular is a fascinating sport.

"It's often likened to vertical chess. It engages our urge to investigate and solve problems, but at the same time is very physical. 

"You don't need terribly strong arms, and if you're pulling too hard you've probably missed a trick.”

GB squad members have been spotted at the centre where experts, including international professionals, 'reset' the bouldering problems nearly every week.

There is over 100m of bouldering wall with 'resets' nearly every week (Image: Gallery Bouldering)

Gallery Bouldering also has a real 'rock' wall, autobelays (takes up slack as you climb), two digital system boards and a well rounded gym with very experienced staff.

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A free induction, extended inductions and more in depth coaching are all on offer but everyone must register on the website before visiting. 

Children are welcome, but given the serious nature of the sport, they must be fully supervised by an adult who has completed the training and assessment also offered by the centre.

If you are already into climbing and “know the ropes” once you have demonstrated your knowledge to staff you can get straight on the wall.

Climbing shoes, the main bit of kit, are also available to hire or buy.

And when you've scaled the wall Jericho Coffee Traders are serving coffee, beer and pizzas on a sunlit mezzanine at the sociable, light and spacious venue.