Here’s one workout that will drive you up the wall!
Gowanus’s newly opened rock-climbing center — Brooklyn Boulders — is an urban jungle gym designed to push experienced mountaineers and first-time climbers to new heights (albeit in a two-story old Daily News garage on Third Avenue).
After a two-year hunt for suitable a Kings County location, Brooklyn Boulders founders Lance Pinn, Jeremey Balboni and Stephen Spaeth converted the former garage into an alpinist’s Eden with 11,000 square feet of climbable walls, room for a continuous 250-foot long traverse, more than 40 top-roped routes, a 28-foot tall climbable replica of the Brooklyn Bridge’s iconic tower, and walls as steep as 45 degrees past vertical for harness-less “bouldering.”
It sounds intense. It is.
But that doesn’t mean that the facility, which is at the corner of Third Avenue and Degraw Street, isn’t the perfect place for first timers to cut their teeth (and hopefully nothing else) before they brave real mountains.
“The average person can’t just go and climb outdoors, whereas, here, no experience is necessary,” said Pinn, who hopes the gym will become a major spot on the birthday party circuit and a hub for corporate retreats once it has its real Grand Opening on Sept. 9. “It’s not like climbing indoors is less extreme, it’s just that everyone is doing what they can to look out for you.”
And with help and instruction from staffers, Pinn insists that his gym can turn anybody — no matter the body type or age — into a modern day Tenzing Norgay.
First timers can take an entry-level ropes class that will teach them everything from tying knots to taking falls (which shouldn’t be too difficult, considering that the floors are padded with four layers of forgiving foam padding).
At the end of the course, climbers will receive belay certification, meaning they can use the gym’s ropes without a supervisor.
Every few weeks, staffers will change the placement of the pastel holds, offering local climbers a more dynamic experience than the challenging walls at the Aviator Sports complex in Floyd Bennett Field and the less-difficult kid’s rock wall at Powerplay on Third Avenue near Eighth Street — and a more convenient experience than the 100-mile trek to “The Gunks,” upstate’s nearest climbing spot.
Pro climber Ivan Greene envisions the Gowanus facility becoming a hangout where first timers and experts can learn and practice side by side.
“Instead of going to yoga class or the gym, you’re going to come here — it’s a sick workout,” said Greene, a route setter and instructor at Brooklyn Boulders. “Climbing is not an easy thing to do — but it’s so much easier to climb here than it is outside. You can climb every kind of terrain, there are cushions all over the place, and you can walk from here to the deli when you get hungry.”
Brooklyn Boulders [575 Degraw St. between Third and Fourth Avenues in Gowanus, (347) 834-9066]. Now open weekdays, 6 pm to 10 pm; and some weekend hours. Full hours begin on Sept. 9. For information, class times, and costs, visit www.brooklynboulders.com.