I love GRG climbing gym but….

September 8, 2008

So yeah, I love the Gainesville Rock Gym.  Over the past 6 years I have been going to this rock gym and having a blast.  I have trained there for many days, injured myself there, had potlucks and boulder parties, climbed routes and met many good friends there!

Yup, I love the Gainesville Rock Gym.

Then recently things started to shift, people started leaving Gainesville, good friends started leaving, the climbing community started to change, become sparser too but essentially change.  And in my life too, things changed, I got married for example, and moved out to Oakland/Berkeley!  Yeah, things did change and with change came perspective.

So, perspective.  Yeah I live the Gainesville Rock Gym BUT:

having moved to Oakland/Berkeley I became familiarized with the gyms out there.  In particular, with this sweet deal in which becoming a member to one gym I had just become a member to 5!  5 for the price of one.  (Or maybe 5 for the price of 5…).   And there was already some talk about the maintenance of the gym in Gainesville but all of a sudden things became more than obvious.  Let’s take a look and compare:

A 1 month membership at the GRG is $49.  Let’s say $50 to make numbers simpler.

A 1 month membership at Touchstone is $63, definitely more!!  This was expected since it was Berkeley… everyone knows it is more expensive there.  But remember, membership to 5 gyms!!  I have only used two of them and realistically there comes a number where it doesn’t really benefit one to have more memberships (100 gyms…. right, when you can really only use 3 or so).

But people the real difference is unfortunately in the services provided.  And whereas at GRG all that is included is use of the bathrooms… at Touchstone there is access to:

– Sauna (yes, first things first)

– Showers

– Towels

– Moisturizer

– Cardio machines (running, elliptical, cycling)

– Weights (free weights and machines… and yes, fully equipped not just a few)

– Classes (cardio kick-bo, yoga, spinning, crossfit……….)

– Use of chalk bags for a day

– and many more boulders and routes.

Aside from those perks there is also the important part of the quality of the route-setting.  A very experienced group of route-setters cycle through the gyms renewing the boulders and routes at a rate that I have not determined yet but they are frequently there.  Whereas the boulders and routes at GRG can go for more than 3 months without being changed and the setters are awesome people but, for the most part (with the exeption of 1 person that I know off) very inexperienced.

Looking deeper, the setters really want to set more but the pay…. getting more to the root of the issue.  I often hear members and ex-members of GRG asking: “Where does all the money go?????”.  There are competitions being held there with the enticement of “all proceeds go to new holds”… then where is all the money from the memberships going?????  Over the past 6 years very very very few modifications have been made to the gym.  Improvements?….  A pull-up bar and a 20x10ft wall in 6 years?!

So yeah, I have quickly realized that I really loved the GRG because of the other climbers I met there and not so much for the place itself.  Possibly some pictures will proceed this post in the near future.



  1. the revenue from rock gyms in mid-size cities is such that owners choose profit over perfection. that is, every dollar made from memberships, day passes, and whatnot is pure profit if they don’t reinvest in the gym. assuming you only have one gym…. no competition means no need to improve. viola! … crap routes, old holds, and an environment that makes everyone hate plastic.

  2. Bruno,
    I totally agree. I love GRG for the crew we have, but I am insulted by the level of deterioration at which the gym has rested since I’ve been a member. I’d love to see a continuation of this post, with pics, and some more details about your gym to salivate over!


  3. I absolutely agree with you, Bruno. I have become a stronger climber faster in the one year since I’ve left GRG because of the same problems that you detail. Rarely does a boulder problem last two months here before it disappears, and our head route setter was on the Romanian national climbing team. All with a far smaller bouldering area, no less.

  4. i digg your post¡!

  5. Saunas! Ahhhh…I can only imagine how wonderful that would feel after a hard climb.
    Seriously though, I 100% agree with your commentary. I love the people at GRG but sadly, not GRG itself.

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