Climbing gyms may be the new, well, gyms. Their numbers across the U.S. have more than doubled in the past decade. By the end of 2020, there will be around 600 facilities compared to less than 300 in 2010. According to Climbing Business Journal, a record number opened in 2018, and while 2019 slacked off significantly, 2020 is expected to set another record. Urban dwellers are especially craving the funky hand calluses and chalk dust associated with the sport. In New York alone, there are now over 10 with more on the way.
Why are urbanites choosing climbing gyms as opposed to traditional health clubs?
Atmosphere, for starters. Lounges, co-working spaces, Wi-Fi, yoga studios, saunas, beer taps, and cafés. The climbing gyms opening in a city near you offer some serious amenities. Mix in the conducive social setting of the sport and asymmetric wall architecture with colorful holds that paint the walls, and you’re quickly increasing urban quality of living. Not to mention, the minimum gear needed is simply a pair of shoes.
Another reason is the climbing gym’s ability to connect us (despite being largely indoors) to the broader outdoor lifestyle without leaving the city.
“It has become part of our culture to interact with the outdoors and nature. It’s what we do,” says Scott Rennak, publisher of Climbing Business Journal, and marketing manager for Colorado’s The Spot—a gym with locations in Boulder and now Denver. “We are supposed to go hiking, skiing, hunting, ATVing, climbing, all that stuff that gets you dirty and sunburned. None of that can be practiced in cities or buildings. Except climbing.”
Here are a handful of climbing gyms that opened in 2019 worth hanging around.
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