Over the winter break I was able to finally make time to train before heading to bed at the Cleveland Rock Gym. It was the first place that I climbed indoors at back in the 90’s after I had tried climbing outside on the local northeastern Ohio sandstone.
As I drive into the warehouse and train area that the gym is located in, I had to squeeze through a number of large trucks and semi’s to get to the ice covered parking lot. It was Wednesday night and the lot was packed! What a great sign.
I hadn’t climbed in the gym for about 20 years and it was amazing to see how much and how little it had changed. Picnic tables lined the middle of the top rope and bouldering areas and more and steeper bouldering caves had been built to increase square footage of the gym Additionally, the original yoga room was converted into a large bouldering cave with angles and grades for all comers.
The area that I went to was the training area that was also new and built high above and overlooking the gym.It had a campus area and a systems board at what felt like 45 degrees. There was a hang board zone with pulleys and a set of multi-leveled pull up bars. A sampling of weights for circuits were available in addition to a dip station and some rock rings.I think that I saw a universal machine on the main level near a zone full of children’s toys too.
I was able to warm up with stretches in the well heated gym on the classic and polished holds. After doing a 4×4 in two of the bouldering zones, I sampled all the angles problems and headed upstairs. What I noticed was that the top rope area stayed packed with people. The walls were wooden and painted with varying degrees of terrain topping out at about 25 feet (not actually sure of the height). You could tell that there was a great sense of community and friendship at the gym. Massive groups of folks traded belays and stories on the top rope only walls and enjoyed the heck of the company and the climbing. The building itself is an old shop of some kind that makes you feel like you are in a machine shop for trains in the early 1900’s. It’s cool.
After I got my climbing in and and I was fully warmed up it was time to utilize the campus board, systems wall and equipment. Other than the wooden floor being covered with a spartan amount of padding in the training area, it had what I needed to get in a great and effective workout. I eventually met some the the locals and employees and we all had a good time.
Overall, it was a fun place to train where the feelings of friendship and community were ever present. There are not a lot of gyms where I can say that. One of the Summit Grapevine gyms in Texas and the old Paradise Rock Gym in Denver had that feeling and it was welcoming and awesome. I think that the gyms without auto belays are more likely to create community since no one can hide without talking to someone and making friends.
As I slowly travel around to different gyms, it is not so much how big and beautiful the gym is it’s about the people. Cleveland has great people.
Great way to teach newcomers the hold types.The featured wall really helps you with your footwork.The top rope area packed with happy climbers.The systems board. I like a lot of the holds that they have but I would reorganize their locations in order to be more systematic.Cool angles and big pads. The best thing is when you top out your feet are just 1 foot over the pad. For a me and my back issues these are great!Here is a cool way to allow folks to train on varied crack widths. I could teach a lot a future crack slayers with this tool!
Inside and outside fingerboards with a built in peg board. Great way to maximize space and get people training.