Climbing in Elmwood Park

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Home to the state's largest freestanding bouldering island, New Jersey Rock Gym houses 12,000 square feet of vertical terrain to climb as well as 41 top roping stations. Armed with either day passes or membership, guests scamper up the gym's synthetic summits, hoping to ask questions of the learned ceiling light sequestered at the top of the mountain. While gear is included with some membership options, guests can opt to bring their own materials or rent the individual shoes ($5), harnesses ($4), or chalk bags ($2) they need from the pro shop. New Jersey Rock Gym offers a collection of educational course work in the vertical arts, teaching belay technique to beginners or advanced skills to adults. Children can also take advantage of youth climbing programs, mini camps, and birthday parties before retiring to private refreshment chambers to absorb bottles of electrolyte-infused refreshment. The nearby pro shop outfits climbers with name-brand gear for purchase, while a WiFi lounge transmits terabytes of data into nearby electronic devices or unsecured cyborg brains.

373 US Highway 46
Fairfield,
NJ
US

Helmed by a team of passionate climbing coaches, both of The Gravity Vault's locations surround climbers with more than 13,000 square feet of climbing space. Walls tower past 35 feet, mimicking such natural rock formations as overhangs, keyhole arches, and slabs, and bouldering areas challenge climbers with a latticework of problems that—unlike most of life's—can't simply be solved with dynamite and a pair of roller skates. Visitors can choose from up to 60 top-rope stations, trusting either the trained staff or a certified fellow climber to man the ropes while they scramble to the summit. When not dangling from a hold or saving lost kittens from a rappel ledge, members can bulk up in the cardiovascular-training area.

107 Pleasant Ave
Upper Saddle River,
NJ
US

As the mother of three children, Tara started taking Zumba classes as a way to get back in shape. Not only did she quickly see results, she also had fun moving her body to the Latin-inspired beats. Now a certified Zumba instructor, Tara introduces others to this upbeat fitness craze during one-hour classes.

390 Cambridge Drive
Butler,
NJ
US

Why build a business based purely on surprising people? “Because life moves fast and we don’t play nearly as much as we should,” say Surprise Industries founders and sisters Kat Dudina and Tania Luna on their website. By setting up surprises for big groups and individual clients alike, the duo, along with their imaginative staff, encourages the giddiness of play that often gets lost in the shuffle of adult responsibilities. With only a location and a time to arrive, participants are swept into an unpredictable adventure that may involve anything from attending an ice-sculpting workshop to being elected chairman of the Federal Reserve.

32-12 Astoria Blvd.
Astoria,
New York
US

Palisades Climb Adventure presented by WonderWorks lays claim to the title of the world's tallest indoor ropes course, and you might not feel like arguing with them when you're 85 feet above the ground. Guests traverse 75 different obstacles that test the climber's mettle, whether they're trying to balance while walking across tremor bridges, maintain their grip on the rope ladder, or fight back the urge to eat the alternating spaghetti handline. Once an adventurer is buckled into the safety harness, they can leap, totter, and dangle through the entire course with the option to leave at any time. The only requirements are a minimum height of 3'6" and a maximum weight of 300 pounds.

4590 Palisades Center Drive
West Nyack,
NY
US

Climbers of all ages and skill levels scamper across roughly 22,000 square feet of climbable space inside Brooklyn Boulders's rock-climbing gym. A dedicated route-setting staff organizes color-coded problems on craggy, angled top-rope walls as well as bouldering walls that reach up to 15 feet. To help visitors master these walls, seasoned instructors train them in three basic types of climbing: bouldering, top-rope climbing, or lead climbing. They teach these skills through classes such as the peak-performance program, which combines seven classes in lead climbing, bouldering, and cross-training to accelerate students' learning. To ease stressed muscles and promote calm reflection, staffers also lead all-ages yoga lessons and monthly yoga workshops.

Brooklyn Boulders also injects creativity into its special events, which encourage visitors to climb in costume around Halloween and take part in competitions during which they pretend the floor has turned to lava. Staffers also invite local graffiti artists to display their murals inside, work to preserve regional climbing areas by partnering with Access Fund, and coordinate programs through its BKB Foundation—a nonprofit that provides greater access to rock climbing for kids and adults.

575 Degraw St
Brooklyn,
NY
US