An enormous rock climbing gym is slated to open in Long Island City this April, featuring 30,000 square-feet of climbing walls, large enough to house 500 climbers. According to owner Mike Wolfert, The Cliffs at Long Island City will be one of the biggest rock climbing facilities in North America.
“It’s going to be one of the biggest gyms in the country,” Wolfert said. “It’s massive.”
Wolfert also owns The Cliffs at Valhalla in Westchester, which opened in September of 2005. He picked Long Island City for the new location based on the area’s “perfect demographics” and proximity to transportation.
“It’s obviously exploding right now,” said Wolfert of LIC. “The amount of growth with the restaurants and the bars right now, it’s the perfect position to be in when opening a new business.”
Wolfert, who has been a life-long rock climber, found it was a good way to stay fit when he worked for a marketing agency in California. After moving back to his home state of New York, he combined business savvy and his love of climbing and opened The Cliffs.
Wolfert said rock climbing is the fastest growing indoor sport in the country, adding that his Valhalla facility runs at full capacity. Rock climbing’s popularity comes from being a full-body workout that combines cardio, stretching and strength training into a routine that’s anything but monotonous, said Wolfert.
Climbers can scale 60 feet on the LIC building’s highest wall. The gym will incorporate three subsets of rock climbing: straight climbing called “top roping”; “bouldering,” a heavy weight, low repetition form of climbing that requires problem solving; and “lead climbing,” an advanced endeavor that most closely resembles outdoor rope climbing. Several of the custom-built rock walls’ patterns can be altered to keep climbers on a different course with each ascent.
The facility, formerly a warehouse, plans to include classes with certified instructors who teach everything from the basics to advanced climbing, after school programs for kids and birthday parties. Wolfert also said the gym will create more than 60 new jobs.
Since announcing plans for the new gym, Wolfert said response from locals and rock climbers across New York City has been nothing but positive.
“It’s more than just the Long Island City community,” he said. “Rock climbing, unlike fitness, there’s not one on every corner. People will travel from other boroughs. We’ve been getting great response from the rock climbing community at large.”