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March 14, 2017 > Climb your way to better health

Climb your way to better health

By Robbie Finley

With all of the rainfall hitting the Bay Area this winter, many are left searching for fun activities sheltered from the elements. Now is as great a time as any to get vertical and check out indoor climbing at nearby places such as The Peak of Fremont, or Touchstone Climbings The Studio in San Jose and Great Western Power Company (GWPC) in Oakland.

Indoor climbing is a fun, unique sport that traces its roots back to Seattle in the late 80s, where the first indoor climbing gym opened. Billed as a safe, friendly introduction to the sport of climbing, indoor climbing has grown substantially in popularity over the years. In the Bay Area alone there are 12 climbing gyms from San Francisco to Walnut Creek and San Jose, said Jacob Padilla, a manager, instructor, and route setter at The Peak of Fremont. He added, [Indoor climbing] popularity is growing worldwide and has even made its way into the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. GWPC Marketing Director and Graphic Designer Heather Bellgreen also noted the sportÕs popularity, saying, According to Climbing Business Journal, the indoor climbing industry has been growing steadily since 2009. Nowadays, youd be hard pressed to find any athletically-minded person in the area who hasnt at least tried climbing once! According to, there are currently over 3,000 climbing facilities worldwide.

Our climbing gym has been open for more than 16 years, said Padilla, adding that the gym recently changed its name to The Peak of Fremont to coincide with the opening of Campo di Bocce on the same property. GWPC is one of Touchstone ClimbingÕs 11 indoor climbing locations throughout California and opened in 2007 in a former steam generation plant; the Studio in San Jose opened more recently in 2012. ÒWe shaped the walls around the original building architecture, making for a really unique gym that maintains the industrial urban vibe of the space," said Bellgreen, adding, ÒThe Studio was built inside an old movie theater, which gives it a unique vibe and cool architectural details. What is now the bouldering area used to be the projection room!Ó

Climbing gyms offer their own unique climbing routes or paths on its walls, rated in difficulty based on the Yosemite Decimal Rating System, a system that ranks difficulty on a scale of 5.0 (with larger hand/foot holds for beginners) to 5.15 (expert level). One of the big appeals of the sport is that it is not just physical, but a mental activity. Climbing is split between these two aspects and becomes a workout like no other, challenging each climber both mentally and physically," Padilla said. Bellgreen also noted how climbing stands out; it provides both strength/endurance training, as well as requiring problem-solving skills.

Time spent climbing is also an almost entire body workout alongside other climbing enthusiasts. Rock climbing is an extremely communal/social sport, and a good day of climbing can give you good core, leg, arm, and shoulder workouts," Padilla said of the culture at The Peak of Fremont. Bellgreen sees the same at GWPC and The Studio. We really see people climbing from all sorts of backgrounds. One of the cool things about climbing in gyms is that you get to meet people with all kinds of different interests and lifestyles, but you always have one thing in commonÑa love of climbing!

A typical climbing gym will offer different experiences, such as slab climbing, bouldering, vertical climbing, and overhang climbing. Climbing high off the ground might seem intimidating, but it can be performed by people with a wide range of abilities. ÒChildren as young as three years old and adults in their 70s and even 80s can be seen climbing,Ó Padilla said. Bellgreen seconded that, saying, "YouÕll see an incredible variety of body types enjoying and excelling at all styles of climbing.Ó

Climbing offers an excitement for many people that regular workouts just cant match. Climbing provides a vast workout that constantly changes. We reset our entire gym every 10 weeks allowing for the community to have new climbs every time they enter the gym," said Padilla. On any given wall, youÕll find a variety of climbing styles and levels, Bellgreen said of the two Touchstone Climbing locations in the Bay Area. In her experience, she has seen climbers start for a variety of different reasons, and they continue with it because it is so much fun! ÒThe climbing community is very inclusive and welcoming... whether youÕre a total beginner or hardcore crusher, you can always push your limits and know that you have friends (and even total strangers) who have your back! she said.

The Peak of Fremont is 16,000 square feet with bouldering, top rope and lead climbing, and 12 automatic belays on site. GWPC, also a fully functional gym, is 12,500 square feet with bouldering, lead climbing, and diverse angles and terrain features. At The Studio, climbers will find a fully featured climbing gym with bouldering, a lead cave, top rope walls, and cardio and fitness decks. All sites offer the necessary safety gear for rent and memberships at various prices. For more information on indoor climbing at these locations, visit and

The Peak of Fremont
4020 Technology Pl, Fremont
(510) 651-2500

The Studio
396 S 1st St, San Jose
(408) 998-4000

Great Western Power Company
520 20th St, Oakland
(510) 452-2022

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