Alexandria Sportrock Climbing Center Full of Activities After Biden Visit | ALX now
The Sportrock Climbing Center has been quite crowded since President Joe Biden visited the First Lady and Governor Ralph Northam last month.
Sportrock staff say this is the first time a president has visited a climbing gym and it has put the spotlight on their 35,000 square foot operation. On a recent weekday evening, every parking spot was taken outside of their location at 5308 Eisenhower Avenue. Inside the huge gymnasium, masked and unmasked climbers dragged, lifted weights, belayed and made their way to the top of the mountain. tallest climbing walls in the mid-Atlantic.
“I think what the president did was put Sportrock in the public consciousness for people who had never heard of rock climbing before,” Jeff Shor, Sportrock marketing director, told ALXnow. “It definitely upped our spotlight. “
Biden visited the gymnasium to celebrate the lifting of COVID-19 regulations across Virginia, although some measures are still in place at the Alexandria and Sterling sites. All climbers are currently required to wear face masks on Monday afternoons and on weekends in the mornings.
A long way from where the gym started at this point last year, having recently reopened to a significantly reduced capacity after a three-month hiatus. SportRock, which offers private lessons and a number of fitness classes, has also been forced to switch from in-person practices to a virtual format.
The relaxed restrictions are a welcome relief for 16-year-old Abigail Humber. The Arlington resident has been rock climbing at the gym since she was eight and works with Taylor Reed, director of the Sportrock Performance Institute, which is a 9,000 square foot climbing facility connected to the main gymnasium.
“I come here almost every day to train,” said Humber. “I am homeschooled and spend all my time climbing. And so yeah, I’m the ultimate rock climbing nerd, especially combined with Taylor, who is also a huge rock climbing nerd. We have fun rock climbing in the gym all the time, and it’s honestly the best. I just want to keep doing this for as long as possible, and if that means being a professional climber, then that’s what I want to do, because rock climbing is what I love, and rock climbing is what makes me want to wake up every morning. “
Some of Reed’s students make regular trips to the gym from North Carolina, like Charlie Osborne, 19, and Tessa Huang, 13.
Osborne is a USA Climbing competitive climber in bouldering and lead climbing. He has been climbing for 13 years and has Olympic aspirations, and says he trains in Alexandria specifically thanks to Reed.
“He’s very technically focused, when it comes to climbing, so he helps me realize all my weaknesses and strengths and how I can improve in certain areas to apply it to the wall,” said Osborne. “Before I usually started training with him, I was very focused on strength and had all of these abilities, but I didn’t know how to use them properly.”
Reed said rock climbing builds self-esteem, and the gym is full of athletes of all ages keen to solve puzzles with their bodies.
“These kids are a little crazy when it comes to how the escalation has consumed them,” Reed said. “But you get this interesting dynamic between the kids and the adults in the climbing gym where they’re all planning the same issues and trying to share information to get to the top of the wall. And that’s the element that makes for an inspiring community.