While you might not offer rock climbing at your health club, there are a few things that you can learn from one of the premier climbing gyms in the United States. Brooklyn Boulders is a dedicated rock climbing facility that first opened in Brooklyn, New York in 2009, but has since expanded with three other locations.
Besides offering a wide variety of services, such as youth programs, personal training and various other events, much like many other health clubs, Brooklyn Boulders works to foster a strong sense of community. It serves numerous demographics ranging from youth to experienced climbers.
“It is always great to see kids teaching adults how to climb certain routes that they are working on,” said Grace Yang, the marketing manager at the Brooklyn Boulders Brooklyn location. “We also have a lot of hardcore climbers, who are really looking to progress in the sport professionally. Then we have our recreational climbers who come in with their friends — it is a very social environment.”
When not trying to conquer certain routes, climbers find themselves socializing with one another. “You definitely have to face conquering the route yourself, but there is still a huge social element to it,” said Yang. “Everyone is supporting you and watching you and just really experiencing how you are going to conquer the challenge. That is the kind of environment everyone feels. There is that potential for organic connection, especially in New York.”
According to Yang, Brooklyn Boulders is more than a climbing gym, rather it is a multi-generational community center that brings artists, parents, grandparents and youth together. “We also have the Brooklyn Boulders Foundation, which brings together adaptive climbers — so people with disabilities,” explained Yang. “The wonderful thing about climbing is that it is unique to your body. So whether or not you have Cerebral Palsy, which some of our climbers do, they find a way to climb at their pace. It is not about everyone shooting up the wall. It is about how you use your resources to achieve your personal goals and how other people can use their unique experience to help you. That is the beautiful environment we have. You still have to face your challenges in life by yourself, but there is a community there to help you.”
While climbing might not naturally seem like the most social sport, the community at Brooklyn Boulders serves as a reminder that a strong community can be built anywhere. “A lot of people end up hanging out in between because climbing is very intensive, especially bouldering, so you will see people connecting over the same problem,” added Yang. “Strangers that are working the same route but maybe never introduced themselves. It is an organic connection.”
Are there areas within your clubs that may be perfect for bringing people together and fostering a greater sense of community?