By: Camille Barron
South Nashville has a new gym, but it’s not the kind to facilitate a typical workout. The Crag is a climbing gym, that is, it emulates the experience of rock climbing.
I went there for the first time on a Friday evening, shortly after it had opened. Michael Kidder, one of the gym’s owners and cofounders, was there to walk me through the climbing process and explain some of the techniques and nuances of skilled climbing.
Camille Barron: What are the three most important rules of rock climbing?
Michael Kidder: First, have fun. Climbing can provide a very deep connection between the mind and body as you learn how to control your (somewhat natural) fear of falling, but if you’re not having fun, you won’t keep doing it, so always remember to keep it enjoyable. Second, find a great community of others to help get through the learning curve and keep you safe as you learn the ropes (pun intended). Finally, but not necessarily immediately, you will have a better experience when gear and clothing is matched to your activity (you don’t run in your work shoes!) so make sure you understand and get the right stuff.
CB: You already own and operate a successful climbing gym in Franklin. Why did you expand to a second location, and what made you choose South Nashville?
MK: We have lived and worked in Nashville for 20+ years (as an ownership group). We built a community in Franklin that was thriving, but wanted to extend that community to both serve those who were traveling to get to us as well as expand the facilities and services we offered. We wanted to grow our presence in Nashville because we knew what we were doing would work there too. We built the biggest climbing gym in the city and I think our newest location serves both current customers and our new neighbors alike.
CB: Outside of the known physical & mental health benefits of exercise - Why is rock climbing good for a city like Nashville?
MK: Climbing has been exploding as a sport. It will be in the Olympics in 2 years! Tennessee has great outdoor resources for climbing, and I think gym climbing is a gateway to outdoor experiences. I think that diversity in urban recreation opportunities is good for a city like Nashville and good for the sport. I also believe The Crag has a great history of inclusion in our community. We have always tried to make what can be an intimidating sport approachable.
Besides the mock-rocks to climb, The Crag also offer familiar equipment you might see in a standard gym or weight room, so that one may pursue alternate workouts before or after their climb. They also offer yoga, HIIT, and bootcamp classes, thus making a nicely rounded out one-stop workout shop.
The Crag is a great place for beginners (like me). Yes, the steep facades are a little intimidating, but the friendliness of the gym is welcoming. Shouts of groups of strangers encouraging and guiding each other are echoed across the cavernous room. There is lots of hands-on training available. Being here is, as Michael puts it, a gateway experience into the climbing world. And I have to say, despite the fact that my hands were quick to tire, I was determined to come back and overcome some of the walls I wasn’t quite able to conquer (or even start). As we were leaving, my group was already talking about when we could go back.
Camille Barron is a 25-year-old Nashville transplant from New York. By day, she works as a Social Media Consultant at Nashville-based social marketing startup JumpCrew. By day, she also blogs about minimalist, classic fashion on her personal blog serialoutfitrepeater.com and writes local restaurant reviews at musiccityhighway.com. Follow her on Instagram @SerialOutfitRepeater.
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