Nestled between Beijing’s East Third and Fourth Ring Roads lies the O’le Sports Center. Here, young athletes have their pick from an array of sports: rock climbing, football (soccer), badminton, basketball, skiing, children’s playgroups, and rollerblading. At 1,300sqm, the center’s main building was an old factory that has since been renovated. It is now home to the O’le Italian Football School, O’le Climbing, O’le Rollerblading and Fun Gym. Next door is O’le’s badminton and basketball courts. With high quality facilities, experienced coaches and a friendly atmosphere, your kids will be top athletes in no time.
"We wanted to create this place for anyone interested in climbing," says Takako Hoshi, Manager of O’le Climbing. Opened in November 2008, O’le Climbing has become a favorite spot for beginners and experienced climbers alike, including Poland’s Ola Przybysz, who is ranked the 13th best climber in the world.
Within O’le Sports Center, O’le Climbing has a 12.5m high route wall, as well as a 150sqm horizontal bouldering wall. Safety is just as important to O’le Climbing as it is to parents. "We have a kouhao (slogan) here: Safety is our main objective. [Our] second is safety. And third is safety. And we remind each other every week," says Hoshi. "We do everything in the safest way possible," adds Przybysz. Indeed, all equipment meets international standards and is checked regularly. All staff members receive training, including first aid. And all climbers are taught how to select and use the equipment properly. For top roping, which is done on the route wall, climbers have the security of a harness, a rope and someone they trust belaying from the ground. Beneath the bouldering wall, where climbers have no rope, there is a custom-made mattress, thick and seamless, to break a fall. Given their precautions, it is no surprise that there have been no accidents, big or small, at O’le’s climbing facility.
O’le Climbing welcomes all ages and levels. Currently, the youngest climber is 4 years old. When it comes to skill, kids make great climbers. "They can climb from a really early age, because they have an instinct to climb. Once you crawl on the ground, you can climb," explains Hoshi.
At O’le, climbing is most popular with children between 8 and 12 years old. Once a week, teacher Andreas Kiessling accompanies a few students from the German Embassy School of Beijing to O’le Climbing. Most students had no prior climbing experience but after three months, they were belaying each other and taking responsibility for one another’s safety.
"It’s both scary and cool," says 11-years-old Jakob Führlinger. While he only started climbing four months ago, he says he will keep climbing, concluding, "I love it." His partner, 11-year-old Lui Fuchs, started climbing when he was just 3 years old and is one of the best climbers in the group. "He has the flow. He has a natural talent [for climbing]," says Kiessling.
One class runs from an hour to 90 minutes and instruction is available in native English, Chinese, Polish, Japanese, German, Italian, French and Russian. Visitors can request one-on-one sessions (RMB 160 per hour), with discounts on package deals. O’le Climbing can also organize an activity day with your child’s school or hold your child’s upcoming birthday party. For climbers looking for great outdoor climbing, they can recommend places close to Beijing.
O’le provides all the equipment, except shoes, which can be rented at RMB 10 per pair. Frequent climbers interested in purchasing their own gear can check out the adjacent shop. La Sportiva climbing shoes for kids start at RMB 245. They also stock crash pads, chalk bags and harnesses, including a full-body one for young children (RMB 550).
For that timid child, climbing to the top can provide a real sense of self-accomplishment. For Hoshi, the best part about climbing is that "[it’s] really personal and it’s not a competition with other people." Przybysz agrees, "You are always competing with the rock."
O’le Italian Football School
Now into its third year, O’le Italian Football School currently teaches over 100 kids and as Italian head coach Francesco Abbonizio says, "We have every country [represented]." The school has little football players from China, Japan, Italy, South Korea and even Palestine. Boys and girls from ages 4 to 14 can join. For advanced players seeking more competitive games, there is a development program.
Classes are divided into age-appropriate groups: 4-6, 6-8 and 9-13 years old. Each class is around two hours long and is taught in English and Chinese. Training is typically held Monday to Saturday and friendly games are played on Sundays. In warmer months, classes are held outside on one of O’le’s two outdoor pitches. During winter, players head indoors.
Abbonizio runs the sessions with help from seven other coaches hailingfrom Italy, the UK, France, Ghana and China. Abbonizio has been playing football since he was 4 years old and has been at the school since it began in 2008. From the start, the school has placed a strong emphasis on fun. "We give the kids the choice to play, let them enjoy. They don’t have to become champions," says Abbonizio. But winning doesn’t hurt either.
Eight-year-old Quinn Stone started playing two years ago and loves scoring goals. He confesses, "I like doing a match, doing a goal and winning. If I score a goal, we think we’re going to win."
O’le Sports Center
5 Dongshimencun Lu, Baiziwan Qiao, Dongsihuan Zhonglu, Chaoyang District 朝阳区东四环中路百子湾桥东石门村路5号
O’le Climbing 奥莱攀岩
Mon-Sat 10am-10pm, Sun 10am-8pm. One-time climb: RMB 50. 10 climb discount card (expires after three months): RMB 380, RMB 280 (kids under 8); 20 climb discount card (expires after five months): RMB 680, RMB 500 (kids under 8); Unlimited monthly card: RMB 520, RMB 480 (kids under 8), Half year membership: RMB 1,500, RMB 1,300 (kids under 8); Year membership: RMB 2,000, RMB 1,750 (kids under 8). Shoe rental RMB 10. Refundable locker deposit: RMB 10 single use, RMB 50 one month use, RMB 150 year-long use. (6776 4705, firstname.lastname@example.org) www.oleclimbing.com
O’le Italian Football School
Starts at RMB 500 per child for one month, sessions once a week (four sessions total). Bus service available. (5128 2825, email@example.com) www.olefootball.com.cn
Classes include "mom and toddler," rhythmic gymnastics, adult yoga and more. (134 3978 8555, 152 1003 3896, firstname.lastname@example.org) www.fungym.com.cn
For ages 3+ and adult amateurs. The first session of classes run from June 16 to July 24, every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon. The second session is from July 24 to September 5 and meets every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon. (6776 4705, email@example.com)
O’le Ski Club
Skiing, snowboarding and telemarking (free heel skiing) for children and adults. Organizes weekend trips to various ski resorts in China. Contact Martina Merlet at 135 0109 1833 or firstname.lastname@example.org. www.ole-ski.com