Rock on! Brooklyn is getting another climbing gym

Social climbing: Brooklyn Heights is getting its first rock climbing gym — and its owner hopes the Clinton Street gym will foster a friendly community of bouldering enthusiasts.
CNG / Ben Muessig

Brooklyn Heights will boast the city’s first boutique climbing gym, according to a fitness entrepreneur who says bigger isn’t necessarily better.

Tomas Anthony hopes to open the Everyday Athlete rock wall as early as next month in a narrow Clinton Street storefront with 18-foot high ceilings that he says are perfect for bouldering — an increasingly popular sport in which climbers ascend short, challenging routes with no ropes and only a padded floor below for protection if they fall.

“My hope for it is that it becomes a community magnet for people who love to climb,” said Anthony, a Brooklyn native who grew up working on his climbing technique on the granite base of the Brooklyn Bridge.

The new gym is only 20 blocks away from the sprawling Brooklyn Boulders — a giant facility with roped climbing and bouldering that has the most wall-space in the city.

But Anthony says there’s room for another, much smaller gym in the borough.

“It would never be crowded, you would never be pushed around,” he said. “We’re just a small intimate place where everyone knows each other.”

To keep his gym from looking like Mt. Everest on summit day, Anthony wants regulars to reserve climbing time beforehand so they have plenty of room to move. The gym would welcome walk-ins who would pay between $20 and $30, but he’s willing to turn them away when it’s too busy.

“We are not going to overload the wall, we are not going to have people bunched up and waiting for routes,” he said.

Anthony didn’t intend to open a climbing gym when he rented the storefront near Joralemon Street as the second location of his Carroll Gardens fitness center — but when he realized the ceilings were tall enough, he tapped Vertical Solutions, the crew that built the structures for last year’s Unified Bouldering Championships in Manhattan, to erect walls and an overhanging “cave” area.

The plywood and epoxy walls are already dotted with brightly colored protrusions that form routes for newbies and experts alike.

And the gym will offer kids programing that focuses on climbing as well as tumbling and fitness.

“We’ll be doing climbing exclusive stuff for people who just love to climb and we’ll be doing hybrid stuff for people who have never climbed before in their life,” said Anthony, who hopes to use the facility to teach “functional fitness” classes.

After climbers make it up the wall, they’ll have the chance to rate a route’s difficulty using a computer program.

Features like that and the boutique feel will draw a dedicated scene of rock-lovers, Anthony hopes.

“It’s like going to a great coffee shop,” he said. “Why do you walk 10 blocks to go to a particular coffee shop when there’s one on every corner?”

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