Growing up in El Paso near Hueco Tanks led Austin Rock Gym owner Troy Wilson to view rock climbing as a way of life. In order to open his own facility he merged his experience running youth climbing programs and gyms with that of his wife and coowner Erica—a Houston native who has spent years scaling New Mexico's rocky ridges. Specializing in bouldering, belaying, and lead climbing, the duo brings mountain terrain indoors at two Austin area locations. The north Austin gym's 30-foot bouldering wall and colorful climbing routes challenge visitors to traverse steep angles, and its top-rope routes let belayed crag clingers scale to the perfect yodeling height. At the south Austin gym, sculpted, 30-foot textured walls loom over a 10,000-square-foot facility, in which climbers can belay, practice lead climbing, or conquer a bouldering cave.
Veteran climbers at each location teach classes and private lessons for rookie rockers 4 and older. In addition to bouldering, lead climbing, and belaying classes, instructors lead women's only sessions and Powerhouse courses that focus on strengthening the body's core. Troy and Tracy's team of experts also guides groups to outdoor climbing venues and lugs a portable rock wall to construction workers no longer challenged by ladders.
Since its founding in 1980, Sun & Ski Sports has remained true to its philosophy: “do a few things, but do them better than anybody else.” The shop stocks equipment in five categories of extreme and outdoor activities, including camping, skating, running, bicycling, and water and snow sports. It specializes in these to ensure its merchandise maintains a high standard of quality, and its employees are knowledgeable participants in the sports their department represents.
Bikers can drop off their steeds for tune-ups from certified mechanics who put all brands through the rigors of a 12-point inspection, checking chains and adjusting wobbly pedals and malfunctioning spoke-card motors. While waiting, curious eyes might linger on a North Face two-person tent, a Blackburn Airtower bicycle pump, or a vast selection of shoes from brands such as New Balance and Asics. Men and women can traipse nearly barefoot in the park with Vibram FiveFingers, which offer minimal structural encumbrances for a more natural stride, or cast their feet aside for the new-wheeled prowess that comes with a Fuji SL-1 LE Ultegra performance road bike.
Golfsmith's online and in-store showrooms house an almost endless list of golf gear for men, women, and children alike. Clubs, balls, and accessories from brands such as TaylorMade, MacGregor, and Callaway give players precise control over their game, and polos and long-sleeved shirts from Nike and Snake Eyes garb players in course-appropriate attire now that tuxedo T-shirts no longer qualify. Along with the extensive collection of equipment and golf bags, Golfsmith also carries GPS systems to give players a high-tech edge.
Play It Again Sports bedecks kids and adults alike with high-end, wallet-friendly athletic armor so that they can kick, swing, and punt with gusto. Scores of subtly used merchandise, perfect for replacing equipment that children have grown out of because of rampant milk abuse, arrive fresh daily and boast brand names such as Adidas, TaylorMade, Wilson, and Easton. A dozen pick-your-own, Grade-A golf balls ($5.99) and a score of golf irons by Ping, Callaway, or Titleist replenish fairway warriors' cache of green weaponry ($30–$300). Those who golf with discs will find a variety of professional-grade flying saucers by Innova, who engineers discs to vary in speed, glide, turn, fade, and likelihood of attracting low-hanging tree limbs. Design a versatile free-weight routine using kettlebells ($15–$85), or opt for exercise on a steady, fluid track with a used elliptical ($199–$1,500).
Since 1971, Freewheeling Bicycles has furnished cyclists with bikes from such notable names as Gary Fisher, Trek, and Electra as well as complementary parts and accessories. Before hopping on their two-wheeled transport and riding off into the sunset or silhouetting against the moon, riders can take advantage of a free tune-up offered with every purchase of a new bike and slide into apparel such as jerseys, shorts, and outerwear. The staff also lets customers test-ride bikes in their sizable parking lot.
Most runners simply want to cross the finish line of their first marathon. Steve Sisson wanted Austin’s runners to set loftier goals, so he created Rogue Running and hired a staff of experienced and decorated coaches. Steve himself is tribute to what drive can accomplish: he was a three-time all-American cross-country and track runner at the University of Texas, and is currently the assistant coach for the women’s track-and-field team.
His vision is to pass on that sense of discipline as well as advanced running techniques in a training program tailored according to how hard runners want to work, rather than how frequently they’ve spotted Jesse Owens in the supermarket. Using this method, the Rogue crew has readied runners for everything from 5K races and marathons to triathlons and trail runs. One of Steve’s ultimate goals is to create a thriving running community. To this end, Rogue Running has trained more than 10,000 runners of varying skill levels, and opened retail stores that outfit the community with athletic apparel and running shoes.