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The Next-Generation Climbing Gym

Climbing gyms are evolving from dimly lit warehouses stacked with plywood to full-service fitness centers with the look and feel of outdoor crags.

Yet at the same time, the mood of CRG Watertown remains thoroughly uncliquish, as strangers offer to belay each other, or share the “beta” (”Match feet and go for the sloper!”) on any given route.

“We want to get across the idea that climbing doesn’t have to be scary,” Pickren insisted. “And it’s not as demanding as people think. We’ve had 3-year-olds get up routes here, and 85-year-olds.”

Pickren didn’t need to lay his sales pitch on me. I’m hooked. By climbing two or three times a week at CRG through the winter and spring, I might just be in my best shape in years when our Old Gang congregates next June for our annual outing, to climb in the Colorado Rockies on real rock and spend our tipsy evenings telling old tales and making up new ones. And—who woulda thunk it?—in the meantime, I’m having fun.    

Don't live anywhere near Central Rock Gym? Check out these seven equally impressive alterna-gyms:

Sender One (Santa Ana, CA)
EarthTreks (Rockville, MD and Golden, CO)
Movement Climbing + Fitness (Boulder, CO)
Brooklyn Boulders (Somerville, MA)
Momentum Climbing (Sandy, UT)
Planet Granite (throughout CA and coming soon to Portland, OR)
Stone Summit (Atlanta, GA)

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