If you are interested in rock climbing, I have to commend you. As I don't have much upper body strength (yet) I was never that into the idea. That is, until I heard that rock climbing can burn about 600 calories an hour. WHAT?! That's a lot of snacks...
So, I checked it out.
Many cities have indoor areas where you can rock climb without being out in the great outdoors. Some of the tips they teach in terms of safety surprised me - especially the fact that falling should not be your number one concern. A fall is rare, usually happens outdoors and is almost always attributed to human error as opposed to equipment failure.
What you should be concerned about with rock climbing is not knowing your limits. When you try to over-do, you risk injury to your joints and tendons. Since so many parts of your body are used for rock climbing, there are many areas that can be strained. The most common is the hand, elbows and wrist.
If you are going to try rock climbing, don't push yourself. Take it very slow and be proud of what you can do instead of watching all the other climbers that scale like Spiderman. It takes time.
Another low commitment (and equally fun and challenging_ rock climbing experience is bouldering (both indoors and out). Climbing 1-story high rocks sans rope, with spotters making sure you land well if you fall off.
If you go to a popular area, there will invariably be a number of boulderers with 'crash pads' placed at the base of problems, to soften your landing. It can be a great social workout experience as well where everyone helps each other out to figure out how to climb each route.
The gear purchasing commitment for bouldering is also low. All you need are a pair of shoes and a chalk bag.
If you've never been, most climbing gyms have bouldering areas as well as rope areas. And if you go during the busy times (typically weekday nights) you can easily meet people who are at your skill level and many more who are more experienced.
Lastly, ditto on the taking it slow. Especially when bouldering, as the moves are typically harder right off the ground. Whatever you do, if anything twinges or 'pops', lay off it immediately. Sometimes a serious finger tendon injury will not feel that bad initially, but will swell up and hurt a few hours later.
Great advice....I'm excited to have everyone sharing like this. I would recommend that beginners begin perhaps in an indoor facility with an instructor or guides to watch you as you climb. If you plan on making your first climbing attempt outdoors, bring a knowledgeable climber with you.