Community of Climbing
by Tyler English | published Apr. 24th, 2019
As March concludes, the Greater Rochester area will become home to the latest Central Rock Gym location. This soon-to-be rock climbing center is a quick 15-minute drive from RIT's campus. Offering activities from rock climbing to bouldering to yoga classes, this new facility is far from the typical image of a gym.
What They Offer
The brightly-colored rocks greet you just as warmly as the gym staff do when you walk through Central Rock's doors. Because rock climbing is at the core of what the staff does, most of the space is dedicated to tracks and courses designed to test climbers’ skill levels while giving them a good workout. The gym will house over 70 climbing routes and boulder challenges.
Anna Bennett, general manager of the Central Rock Gym of Rochester, explained more about the new gym.
“The gym is a very inclusive environment, and it [climbing] is a sport that we [the staff] all think is accessible,” Bennett said.
Central Rock has courses for people of all skill levels, with advanced courses for those who have climbed before and starter tracks for those just picking up the sport. It even has a kids' area where young climbers can practice their skills before hitting the big walls.
There are three main types of climbing that you can do at the gym: bouldering, top roping and lead climbing. Bouldering is rock climbing around man-made or natural boulders without the use of a harness or rope — this is one of the more difficult options that Central Rock Gym offers. Top roping courses are where a climber on the wall feeds their rope to a belayer at the foot of the climb. Lastly, there is lead climbing. This is where the climber clips their rope into quickdraws or anchor points on the wall as they work their way up.
Despite these different types of climbing, they all still call for the same ability to reach in tight places and hold your body up while making some difficult moves. This should not deter you though, as Central Rock is staffed with experienced climbers who are ready and willing to share their tips and tricks. As Bennett explained, with different angles and tricky maneuvers to make, not only is your body getting a workout but so is your brain.
“We will teach you how to belay, we will teach you how to tie in properly and give you some tips to climb up the wall,” she said.
At Central Rock, there will never be a moment when you will be unsure of what to do next. With a more than knowledgeable staff, new climbers and experienced climbers alike are sure to come away learning something new. But if climbing doesn't interest you, there still are other options available. Jason Kraybill, the program and events director, explained that climbing is just one part of what they do.
“Central Rock is more of an all-in-one ... members get the fitness center, yoga classes and the climbing,” Kraybill said. "We have it all so you don’t have to have a membership at three different places to get your workout in ... you can do it all here in one stop."
Why Become a Member?
What sets Central Rock apart is its atmosphere. Unlike other more traditional gyms, you don't walk in and find huge men chugging five different protein powders mixed with vanilla almond milk. The facility encourages problem solving and allows its members to maintain a healthy life through alternative forms of exercise.
“It's really a community-driven gym; unlike your regular gym, climbing is very community orientated,” Bennett said.
RIT's climbing club already makes great use of Red Barn — an on-campus bouldering gym. However, Central Rock still stands apart as it is a great way for new climbers to enter the sport's community and try a variety of climbing techniques. Central Rock acts as a good stepping stone for climbers who are interested in starting the sport but may be too intimidated to join the club on campus.
On the other hand, since Red Barn doesn't offer as many climbing techniques, it is better suited for experienced boulder climbers rather than those who want to experiment with this new form of exercise.
But no matter if you are curious or experienced, the team over at Central Rock maintains an inclusive goal for everyone — they strive to make the facility a strong community center in Rochester. Therefore, forming relationships with colleges is one of the cruxes of this foundation.
“Many colleges have climbing clubs and we are extending partnerships to those groups specifically, and to have them come in and try out our walls,” Bennett said.
The purchase of a membership, which is discounted for college students, grants you access to special events and members nights. According to Bennett and Kraybill, there can be anything from live music performances to tastings from local coffee houses and breweries at these events. These kind of membership perks make joining Central Rock feel more like becoming a part of a community.
Therefore, with the various activities the gym offers and fun events to be a part of, anyone interested — college student or not — should give the Central Rock Gym of Rochester a try.
“All we can say to someone interested in climbing is to come in and meet us,” Kraybill and Bennett said.
The Future of the Gym
Despite being a chain climbing gym, Kraybill noted that Central Rock has a local feel. Each of the gym's locations is unique, with different events held and varying communities of people that attend. Kraybill could not say exactly how the Rochester climbing gym will develop over time to create its own local uniqueness, as it has yet to start its impact on the Rochester area.
“It’s up to what they [the Rochester community] want to see from us,” Kraybill said.
With each location where Central Rock opens, a different purpose for the community is fulfilled. Bennett and Kraybill are open to catering the gym's Rochester location to what community members need, but for now they are just waiting and listening.
“ ... we want people in Rochester to know that we are here, and we are listening to what they want,” Kraybill said.
From holding overnight events for clubs to becoming a remote location for rock climbing classes, Central Rock Gym Rochester is brewing with ideas that you can look forward to.
For now, one thing is certain: building the gym into a center for both the climbing and the non-climbing community. Kraybill and Bennett hope to make Central Rock Gym into just what the Rochester area needs.