The short days and chilly weather of winter can be challenging for many who want to get some good old-fashioned exercise outdoors. Yet the indoor gyms with their New Year’s crowds can get tedious quickly.

One relatively new alternative, at least for those searching for some indoor adventure in the Lowcountry, is Coastal Climbing.

The bouldering gym was opened on King Street last summer by 2009 college graduates Kensie Whitfield and Jeanna Crockett, largely borne out of frustration in finding worthwhile employment in the wake of the recession and Whitfield’s long-held passion for the sport.

Whitfield, who grew up in Mount Pleasant and graduated from Wando High School in 2005, was drawn to the sport at age 12 because his father was passionate about it.

Since June, Coastal Climbing has gained a loyal following, but the young couple didn’t want to disclose their total number of members.

With their first New Year’s, they noticed a bump in people coming in to climb and are looking forward to more this weekend.

Saturday workshops

On Saturday, Coastal Climbing will host a beginner’s clinic from 10 a.m. to noon. The cost to participate is $20 for nonmembers and $5 for members. As part of the new year, they also are waiving the $45 initiation fee until next week.

Taking the clinic, of course, is not necessary. If you want to try it out once or just a few times, you don’t have to commit to a membership.

Coastal Climbing offers a day pass for $10, a 10-climb pass for $80, as well as shoe rentals for $3 and chalk (to aid in gripping) for $2.

If you can’t attend Saturday’s clinic, no worries. Whitfield and Crockett hold one at the beginning of every month.

Interval training

Like any activity, the number of calories burned depends on the intensity and individual weight, but the standard is just under 400 calories for 30 minutes.

The nature of bouldering, which is climbing shorter ascents (boulders, real or fake) without ropes, is one of bursts of energy followed by rest, then repeating the cycle.

Increasingly, studies are showing that “interval training” is among the most efficient and effective ways to get in shape.

Meanwhile, the challenge of determining routes also engages the mind, making what can be a hard-core workout less hard.

Crockett claims an hour session, with 30 minutes of it actually climbing, can torch up to 900 calories.


Crockett said that people who are regulars at CrossFit gyms tend to be good climbers, and that several groups have come in for an alternative workout.

Customers, she admits, tend to range from late teens to early 30s, though they do have a few regulars in their 50s and 60s.

And because bouldering requires upper body strength and some flexibility, those who need to shed a few pounds or have knee problems (a short fall to a padded floor is still a fall) tend not to try it out.

Genuine experience

I first met Whitfield and Crockett before Thanksgiving, and it was refreshing to walk into a home-grown, low-key fitness facility.

It’s not polished or corporate. It’s a mom-and-pop without the kids, other than a friendly Alaskan Malamute named Shadow.

The 3,500-square-foot space is at 708 King St., Unit 5 (near Zappo’s Pizza, north of the U.S. Highway 17 overpass), in what used to be a tire warehouse.

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Reach David Quick at 937-5516.