Brooklyn Boulders: A New Breed of Climbing Gym Sets Up Shop in Boston

The traditional climbing gym is about to evolve—or at least that’s what the owner of Brooklyn Boulders believes. With a second, satellite location slated to open this spring in Somerville, Massachusetts, the company is planning to house an unusual and disparate blend of climbing, retail, working, and community spaces under one roof.

    Photo: Courtesy of Brooklyn Boulders

Over the past several years, the standard for climbing gyms has continually risen. From the first artificial wall that was little more than a few pieces of real rock bolted into concrete, gyms have become sleek engines of rock climbing’s exponential growth, now offering everything from yoga classes to saunas.

Brooklyn Boulders' Somerville concept is to tap into neighboring Cambridge’s culture with the message that “physicality stimulates innovation and creativity,” a key tenet of its business plan.

The space, a former forgery that boasts a monstrous 38,000-square-foot floor plan, is strategically located close to Cambridge, Boston’s hotbed of entrepreneurialism and start-up culture. It is precisely this energy that the new gym is hoping to capture and turn into a collaboration between artists, community groups and start-ups, with unique amenities including meeting rooms on top of the gym’s showpiece 22’ by 140’ bouldering wall.

Brooklyn Boulders Somerville hopes that bespectacled MIT grad students will rope up next to rock jocks for an hour or two of crimps and jugs before they shower and head upstairs to work on their latest tech launch. In one of several modular spaces, local artists, food vendors, and outdoor/active lifestyle brands can set up pop-up shops in three-month rotations to reach the young, urban, creative demographic that the gym plans to attract with amenities including high-speed internet and a glassed-in lounge with a fireplace. As COO Gavin Heverly puts it, “We want to create a space you never want to leave.”

While climbers can expect to pay a premium over standard climbing gym rates, Brooklyn Boulders Somerville is offering discounted memberships online for a limited time. Access the discount at bkbsomerville.com/firstascent.

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