The Fredericton Bouldering CO-OP, an indoor rock climbing gym, reopened with increased safety measures, social distancing and scheduled climbing slots.
Florence Awde, a third-year St. Thomas University student, has been working for the Fredericton Bouldering CO-OP since August as part of its afterschool program. She said she likes the atmosphere at the gym because it’s a relaxed environment.
“I find sometimes at a [regular] gym people can get scared away from trying new things and looking like a fool or anything, but at the climbing gym it’s a very inclusive and relaxed environment,” said Awde.
Awde also said she feels the safety measures the gym has put in to keep the public safe have gone well.
“They do a really good job of making sure everything’s sanitized and everybody’s very respectful of distancing and there’s never a time you feel like you’re in danger,” she said.
As a new climber, Awde has enjoyed becoming more involved with the sport. Usually a women’s hockey player for the Tommies during this time of year, she said the FBC has been a good way to fill her extra time. She said it’s been awesome to have more people have been coming in to try the sport
“I think that it’s definitely a really safe and fun way to try something new during the pandemic,” said Awde.
Jennie Dobrowolski, the executive director of the FBC, said they decided to clean the wall once a week with an electric spraying system after consulting with public health.
“One of the biggest challenges was figuring out how to keep the climbing wall clean,” said Dobrowolski.
She said the FBC bought an electrostatic sprayer gun to help clean the walls using a fine mist. The gym has also expanded its hours to allow time for both community programming as well as time slots for individual climbing groups.
Dobrowolski said the FBC has the area open to the public in the morning, then the after school program and then opens for the public again in the evening.
Francois Côté, a University of New Brunswick student, has been climbing for nine years. He said the most frustrating thing about the pandemic has been the inability to travel to explore climbing sports outside New Brunswick. Côté said indoor climbing is a way for him to train for outdoor climbing during the winter months. He usually climbs at the UNB Rock and Ice Club but hasn’t since it hasn’t reopened. Instead, he goes to the FBC.
While he understands the booking system at the gym is important for public health, he said it can be frustrating for regular climbers.
“Since the pandemic, they have a limit of how many people can be using the facility at a time,” said Côté. “Which makes sense but the result is that they had to go with a booking system and the evenings tend to be booked up.”
The FBC has one to two hour time slots and a limit of 22 people in the building can use the facility at a time, which he said makes sense but the evenings are usually booked.
“Basically, if you want to go climbing. You need to book like a week in advance for an evening spot,” he said.
As well as being a climber, Côté is also a registered nurse. He said he feels the FBC does take the necessary precautions for public safety, making the space feel no more dangerous than a grocery store.
“I do see them frequently going around and cleaning any frequently touched surfaces like railings and countertops and stuff like that,” Côté said. “They check everyone’s temperature on the way in the door as well.”