In 2001, when I tied my first figure-eight knot, the word “rock” still very much applied to the sport of rock climbing. It seems bizarre now, but in those Power Bar-fueled days you had to trek to an actual cliff or boulder to climb. And when you did, you wore an ugly, clunky helmet, a harness that compromised your fertility and zero people thought you were cool.
Climbing gyms were cramped, dusty and reeked of the 90s. They definitely weren’t architectural gems the size of airplane hangars that serve as real-life Tinder-meets-yoga studio-meets-sober-nightclub. But that’s what you get at today’s top facilities. Gym owners are making up for lost time, plunking them down every which where, pumping the music, churning out yoga classes, belay classes, birthday parties and memberships.