Pennsylvania Rock Gyms


I don’t have a subscription to Outside Magazine, but I probably should.  Not only do I end up grabbing a new copy at Barnes & Noble almost every month when I go in for a walk through, but I actively look for the next issue to come out.

While it can sometimes border on too granola, and the trips advertised are often much too rugged and expensive (although isn’t this the story with all magazine trips; part of the reason I started this blog) for my lifestyle, it has well written, interesting articles, gorgeous photograph and great base ideas for which to plan trips around.

I was in Barnes & Noble yesterday and flipped through Outside while waiting for a freak rain storm to pass (this whole raining in January bit isn’t ok) and found a cool profile on The Brooklyn Boulders Rock Gym.  Open since 2010, Brooklyn Boulders is one of many rock gyms springing up in metropolitan (and some not so metropolitan) areas across the country,  It’s being touted as the new fitness craze, and is one craze (unlike Cross-fit which I’m convinced might be a cult) that I can get behind.

The article points out that rock-climbing is a great form of exercise, it’s sociable, and is becoming more and more economical.  The Brooklyn Boulders Rock gym has fun contests, like the one covered in the aforementioned story, called “Lava.”  Contestants have to make sure they don’t touch the floor and those who win are rewarded with free memberships, while everyone is rewarded with a few complimentary beers.

I went to the Philly Rock Gym last spring with a friend who had(s) a membership.  I’ll tell you what, from a workout point of view, going to the rock gym (more specifically, bouldering) kicked my ass.  Muscles I didn’t even know existed were burning and I even had trouble grasping the steering wheel on our ride to get a well deserved drink afterwards.  The other thing is, that it was fun.  While the other people there certainly were into rock climbing, the atmosphere was sociable and relaxed enough that as first time climbers, we didn’t feel intimidated.    And, even though we were at different levels we were all able to hang out and have a good time in between ascents.

Most rock climbing gyms have three types of activities you can choose from.  You have your standard rock climbing (there’s two different types: top roping & leading, and I don’t know enough to tell you the technical differences) where you’re hooked into a harness and  have a partner on the ground ensuring the your rope is good.  This is what most people think of when they picture a rock gym and is also the most expensive (to do on your own, because of the eqipment rentals).  Most good gyms offer training courses in both climbing, and belaying (helping on the ground) in case you don’t feel comfortable going on your own.

Bouldering is rock climbing without any equipment (ropes, harnesses, etc) and is limited to short climbs that don’t extend very high over a mat called a crashpad incase you end up doing just that, crashing.  Bouldering is almost as much about strategy as it is strength, as different paths are marked on the wall in various forms of difficulty.

Some gyms feature ropes courses, which are typically seen outdoors, often in conjuncture with ziplining.

In general I found, when doing some research, that Rock Gyms are pretty reasonable, especially if you live close to one (which I unfortunately don’t).  They seem to average about $60 a month, with individual visists anywhere between $12-$25.00 (now, take my math with a grain of salt).

I’m lazying out here and not providing you with a list of rock gyms in Pennsylvania.  You could go here to check that out.  I was especially intrigued that Pitt has it’s own rock gym and will need to give me brother a heads up (that we should go next time I visit).  I’m simply going to list those within daytrip length of my homebase in Lancaster; you could pretty much find one about forty minutes in either direction of the city (except for south, forty minutes sound is Maryland), and I wouldn’t be surprised if one did spring up here in the upcoming year or two.

Philly Rock Gym– PRG Valley-244 S Mt. Airy Road, Coatesville PA 19320; PRG Oaks-422 Business Court, Oaks PA 19456 The Philly Rock Gym has three locations: Coatesville, Oak (which essentially is King of Prussia/Phoenixville), and a brand new location opening soon in East Falls to cater to the Manayunk crowd.

Paramount Sports Complex21 Landing Drive, Annville PA 17003: Located in Annville, the Paramount Sports Complex only has rock walls (no bouldering or ropes courses).

Climbnasium339 Locust North Point Road, Mechanicsburg PA 17052

Reading Rocks550 George St, Reading PA 19605

Go Vertical– 950 N Penn St., Philadelphia PA 19123: This rock gym located in Philly is purported to be the largest on the eastern seaboard (so claims their website).

Wilkes Barre climbing Gym102-104 S. Main Avenue, Wilkes Barre PA 18701: I’m well aware that Wilkes Barre is a little far for a Lancaster but I can’t help but include anything in my native NEPA.

Vertical Extreme462 Acorn Lane, Downington PA 19353

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