A few years ago, we stepped into a climbing gym for the first time as third wheel on a friend’s date. Since then, we’ve become obsessed with the sport, dedicating multiple evenings, weekends and vacations to it. There’s something about the combination of physical strength and mental challenge that makes climbing the perfect workout.
Climbing outdoors can be a little intimidating, even if you already know how to tie a figure eight knot. Luckily, New York is home to multiple climbing gyms where you can learn the ropes. They all offer intro classes that cover basics like how to tie into roped climbs, how to belay (i.e. hold the rope for your climbing partner) and how to safely drop down. Plus, you’ll meet climbing partners who become essential if you get as stoked on the sport as we have.
But even if you’re not into the idea of performing gymnastics 40 feet off the ground, climbing gyms offer fitness classes like yoga, capoeira and core workouts, not to mention weight rooms and cardio equipment. Often built in converted warehouses, the gyms also serve as a hubs for social events like film screenings and breakfast clubs.
Use our guide to find a gym near you and climb on!
New York City Climbing Gyms
Manhattan Plaza Health Club
482 W 43rd St. New York, NY 10036
MPHC members have unlimited access to the climbing gym, which has over 5,000 square feet of climbing routes on walls as high as 40 feet. The gym also offers clinics on bouldering, ice climbing and top roping (don’t worry, the lingo will all make sense soon). The intro to climbing class, which includes a day pass and equipment rental, is only $60 for non-members. Day pass: $20 plus gear rental.
Steep Rock Bouldering
1506 Lexington Ave. New York, NY 10029
This Upper East Side gym is bouldering only, which means climbing without a rope on lower, but more challenging, walls. This could be the way to go if you find heights a little terrifying but still want to work your arms. We recommend Steep Rock’s “bouldering for dummies” class, which is offered every Friday night for $50 (includes day pass and gear rental). Day pass: $23 plus gear rental.
The Sports Center at Chelsea Piers
Pier 60 – 20th St. & Hudson River Park New York, NY 10011
A day pass to the Sports Center at Chelsea Piers gets you access to the 11,000 square feet climbing area. The Sports Center features walls that are up to 46 feet high and an ample bouldering area. After you get a few routes in you’ll be free to use the rest of the facility (golf, anyone?). Day pass: $50 plus gear (includes access to the rest of the Sports Center facilities).
575 Degraw St. Brooklyn, NY 11217
BKB, as it’s known, has the word “community” in it’s logo and it isn’t just marketing jargon. The gym plays host to a ton of events every week including a ladies night (gals get a day pass & gear for $19 every Monday after 7pm) and is the meeting place for CRUX Climbing and Startup Rock Climbing. The newest location in Long Island City, Queens (opening soon) will feature luxe amenities like a sauna and co-working spaces. Day pass: $28 plus gear rental.
The Cliffs at LIC
11-11 44th Dr. Queens, NY 11101
One of the newer gyms in New York, the Cliffs features a distinct cave-like area and walls that are up to 50 feet high. The gym has one of the best climbing gear shops in the city that’s well stocked with shoes, harnesses and outdoor climbing gear. The Cliffs also boasts a highline (imagine that slackline from college, but 30 feet in the air) that you can hop on after a quick orientation. Day pass: $28 plus gear rental.
This article appeared in the 10/15/2015 edition of our newsletter. Check it it for more climbing tips—including a glossary of climbing terms.