It can be hard to find family-friendly activities that will appeal to everyone in your family when you have kids with a variety of ages. Enter: Hub Climbing. We were hesitant to go at first, as we weren’t sure if all our (mobile) kids would be able to climb. The last thing I wanted to do was entertain my 3-year-old while my older ones climbed. I ended up being very pleasantly surprised.
The 18,000-square-foot facility includes a section for top ropes climbing (the kind that involves harnesses and belaying), a huge bouldering area (which the Hub is known for), as well as a yoga studio and a fitness centre.
The top roping area has 22 auto belays. These are devices that you clip onto your harness, so you can climb without a partner. The auto belay then lowers you back down from the top at a controlled rate. There weren’t a lot of easy climbs (all climbs are rated by level of difficulty), but there were enough to keep my 7- and 8-year-olds entertained.
The bouldering section is much larger and contains vertical walls that make climbers look and feel like Spiderman, and something the gym affectionately calls their “Pet Dragon.” The Pet Dragon is more intimidating than it is friendly: it’s a 23-foot high wall with overhangs and other climbing terms I don’t know.
CLIMBING WITH THREE YOUNGSTERS AND A BABY
Our first trip to Hub Climbing was during March Break. We wanted to check out the place before we brought our preschooler. Even though the place was buzzing with people, we rarely had to wait for a wall to climb.
After the kids were fitted with shoes and a harness, our entire family was given a 15-minute orientation on top roping, which included a test for us, the parents, on how to clip the kids in and out of the auto belays. An adult must be always present or clipping the kids in and out.
The second time we went, we brought our 3-year-old, as well as our infant. Both the owner and the staff were hesitant about letting our 3-year-old climb. (The recommended minimum age is 4-5 years old.) Still, they let her give it a go. They have little backpack-like harnesses for wee ones like her. At first, she was hesitant to climb, but by the end of our time there, she didn’t want to leave!
The available walls are intimidating and difficult for her and the auto belay seemed to let her down a little more quickly than I would have liked (she is on the lighter side), so I’m not sure if I’d pay $20 for her to climb again. (Props to the owner who did warn me ahead of time about this.)
The two older kids tried bouldering the second time around, along with my husband. There’s a minimum age requirement to boulder, so kid #3 couldn’t do it. One of their favourite features was the slide – sort of like a reward for bouldering to the top!
THEIR CUSTOMER SERVICE ROCKS!
Overall, I don’t know if I’d bring my whole family here again unless they made some more areas that are geared to the younger set (I’m thinking a toddler area for them to crawl around in, or shorter walls for my preschooler to boulder safely, and maybe even a lounge for moms with infants to hang out in). But, the reason I would come again and why I’m in love with Hub Climbing is their customer service.
Steve, one of the owners, is passionate about making Hub Climbing a place that welcomes everyone who enters. We’ve been twice now, and both times, the staff have been nothing but gracious and kind, even during incredibly busy times. Even with all the demands aimed at them, they never seemed frazzled or put out. They all went out of their way to make sure my family was taken care of. The owners are also very open to suggestions about how to improve the space as their goal is to make Hub Climbing a hub where entire families can come have fun and exercise together. I certainly felt like I was part of a family here.
Location: 165 McIntosh Dr., Markham, ON
Parking: Free (after 6 pm and on the weekends, you can also park at 155 McIntosh Dr.)
Phone: (905) 604-4588
Costs (excluding HST):
$20 (Day Pass)
$6 (Shoe Rental; Harness rental is free at the time of writing this post)
$54-$78 (Monthly membership fee); Kids of parents with memberships get 50% off day passes or memberships
Hours: Open 365 days a year
TIPS & TRICKS
- Fill out the waiver online ahead of time. Even those who will just be spectators need to fill in a waiver (yes, that included my infant). And the waiver MUST be signed by the child’s parent or legal guardian.
- Don’t bring the stroller. I brought mine in, and it was fine as long as we stayed in the top ropes section.
- Be aware that this is a facility that is more suited to kids ages 4 or 5 and up. There are no change tables available and no areas for younger non-climbers. (There are hints that this could change by the end of 2018.)
- You’ll need one adult for every two kids as they need to be supervised.
Disclaimer: My family was given day passes to try out the facilities. All opinions are my own.