While New York City offers some amazing attractions from Broadway shows to museum exhibits, one thing it can lack is good ol’ Mother Nature. Instead of climbing mountains, New Yorkers climb the steps of mile-high buildings (but only if the elevator is out of service). So this week, the Greatist team channeled its inner wild child at Brooklyn Boulders, New York City’s largest rock climbing gym.

Before we tackled the boulders, our instructor and Brooklyn Boulders’ Rockstar Ben Savitsky taught us the basics of safe climbing. We first learned a series of knots to safely and securely tie-in to the harness, a success even for the non-Boy Scouts in the group. Within minutes we were masters of the figure eight and the stopper, a sort of backup in case all else fails.

After earning our knot-tying badges, Ben taught us how to belay a climber. The belayer remains on the ground and catches a climber if he or she falls. But instead of heroic, open-armed saves, belaying normally entails tightening and pulling the rope to prevent a large-scale fall.

With the basics under our belts, Ben deemed us ready to climb. Besides a mountain and a harness, rock climbing requires some serious full-body strength. Muscles from the forearms, legs, and core help climbers lift themselves up steep faces and grip even the tiniest holds. But Ben assured us that you don’t need to be a macho man to make it up the wall.

“I know plenty of people who started climbing without any upper body strength to speak of,” Ben says. “But they loved it and kept coming back, which helped build their muscles.”

To start rock climbing and to learn more about Brooklyn Boulders, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.