• Wednesday , 21 February 2018

Get Shredded with Bouldering and Top Rope Climbing at Philadelphia Rock Gym

Story, photos by Cassie Hepler

Imagine a world with no rock climbing gyms. Well, that used to exist. But in Philly, we are luckily spoiled.

Founded in 1994, the first Philadelphia Rock Gym was built by two college friends, Greg and Matt, who had a vision to bring their passion and enthusiasm for climbing back to their hometown and to make a living doing what they loved. By taking the smart step of bringing climbing inside and available rain, snow or sunshine, they became one of the first indoor climbing centers in the U.S. Now these guys dominate Philadelphia and the suburbs with rock climbing gyms in East Falls, Oaks, Coatesville and Wyncote. The further out you go, the taller the climbs because there’s more space in the burbs obviously.

Since then, the PRG has introduced more than 40,000 people to the amazing sport of rock climbing. The dedication to excellence and safety is evident in the way we were immediately trained before climbing (thanks goodness because it’s been since High Adventure camp since I climbed).  They also have available gyms to work out or warm up, outdoor training and expeditions all over the U.S., and the philosophy of climbing to promote team development and leadership skills.

Climbing is for people who are sick of the gym monotony. It’s more than just physical activity. It’s also a mental game of strategy, a great way to get in shape, to lose weight, to meet new and interesting people, to build confidence and to overcome your fear of heights. It’s also challenging and hard. Like solving a vertical puzzle, it’s satisfying (and frustrating at points) and you have to slowly build your muscles to finish the task at hand. OK, enough talking let’s get to the climbing!

The Philadelphia Rock Gym logo was perfectly fitting for a Philly business.

The small lettered climbs for the kids. Yes kids can climb too!

Not quite a tight rope but pretty close and much more wobbly.

This is where you will begin your introductory top rope climb with full instruction it takes about an hour.

This is where the bouldering happens i.e. climbing around and upside down until you reach the top. You also have to take a course on how to land like Spiderman when you fall, knuckles down and feet flat or rolling on your back with hands crossed Dracula style.

More top rope climbing options here evident by the ropes. It gets tougher the higher the number and incline with tilt and obstacles.

More bouldering options on the left and back.

Our talented teacher for the day, Jim, who obviously loves his job. With the introductory package, you get 2 free weeks at any of the locations and just pay for the equipment each visit (harness and shoes) to see if it’s a good fit for you.

There’s also a gym near the front to get warmed up or a good workout.

All the ropes are tied up so no one is tripping on them and you will learn a lesson in knot tying 101 before you climb.

The climbing gym behind the walls allows you to strengthen your grip and build your upper body.

Another view of the climbing gym behind the walls.

Of course tons of merchandise for sale for those who are getting addicted to climbing and taking it outside.

A spider monkey climbs the boulder wall upside down wearing his top rope harness.

Having hand chalk in a trusty attachable pouch seems to help get a good grip. Your hands will hurt and most likely your muscles too after spending hours climbing. It’s natural to fatigue your muscles so get back at it at most 3 times a week like any other weight training allow your body to rest.

PRG’s mission statement is to build a community of climbers dedicated to sharing the passion and rewards that this unique and wonderful sport can bring. Each Philadelphia Rock Gym is committed to providing a fun and challenging environment for climbers of all skill levels. And the first climb is free. At the PRG, your total satisfaction is their priority. We concur and will be back again… and hopefully next time outside on real rocks!

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