Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Visit to Movement

Yesterday evening Caolan and I went to Movement, the new gym in Boulder, with Sophia in tow. This was the second time for Caolan, the first for me, so I thought I would share my impressions of the place.

First of all the excellence of the building and the interior space and layout is immediately evident. Things are clean and bright and open, even with a decent crowd in the place. But obviously that isn't why one visits a gym, so on to the nitty-gritty.

The walls:
I only climbed on the steepest wall on the south end of the building, doing a few routes from mid-10 to 12a so my remarks are confined to that sector. The terrain is good but immediately I noticed a certain erratic quality to the arrangement of the bolts, meaning, for example, a fairly substantial mandatory runout on a "12a" that fortunately was only 11b. A flash attempt on a 13a was shut down by a sketchy, out-of-place clip. A survey of the wall showed a number of these gaps where clips would not be available. Wall designers,WTF? Can't this problem be solved? The BRC has a number of these so the sense of deja-vu was pretty strong here. We also witnessed a bad-looking fall induced apparently by a spinning hold, a phenomenon warned against with notices on the wall. Something about T-nuts settling into the new wall? The climber literally fell directly on his belayer. Very scary to see.

So the steep terrain is OK, unfortunately there is too little of it. The steep wall is maybe 25% of the total, meaning I was waiting in line with virtually the same cast of characters I would be meeting in Rifle or at the BRC. The rest of the gym is very slabby and clearly aimed at the intermediate-level climber. The cluster below the steep wall was really unproductive time-wise and I am past the point where I feel like jockeying for a route in a gym. If I were an upper-level climber looking for training options, I would have to go during the day or go somewhere else.

The bouldering is simply meager, Two good walls but most of it is simply not steep enough. I flashed a good "V8" that was probably V5 and let it go at that.

The route-setting:
Not much to say here. It's gym-climbing. The easier climbs I did on the steep wall were over-graded jug-hauls for the most part which were perfect for warming up. Since I couldn't get on anything harder very easily, my review is incomplete. The first third of the 13a I tried seemed good.

The vibe:
This is entirely subjective obviously but for some reason the climbing part seemed to me to be understated too much and the fitness part too prominent. It didn't feel like a climbing gym in the sense that I am used to. Maybe that is the intent, maybe it will come with time. Can't tell.

Yes! Sophia had a great time and this is by far the most innovative and important aspect to the gym for our family. Affordable and a great space for the kids. I was definitely impressed. Unfortunately they close at 7 making for a tight schedule for families after work.

Movement is trying hard to be all things at once and doesn't do a bad job of it. Is it the ultimate climbing gym? Not really, for the reasons I mentioned above. Is it worth switching memberships? Many of my friends who were once BRC regulars seem to think so but I am not convinced of the superiority of the new space over the established places in town. For my money, the best wall in town is my home wall and maybe CATS so I am probably not the best source for opinion in this matter.

In sum, Movement is worth a visit though to try out the facility and get a feel for the place. I would be interested in hearing other responses from readers about their experiences.


Tom Markiewicz said...

Nice review Peter. My membership at The Spot is up for renewal soon, so I decided to try a monthly membership at Movement. For me, rehabbing an injured finger, I love the place so far. That said, I haven't been able to try the harder routes yet.

I haven't had any issues with crowds, but I've been going during the later afternoon, early evenings.

I also like the fitness part of the gym and have been going in on non-climbing days to use the equipment.

Time will tell I guess, but I think some of the issues you mentioned are not permanent (except for the lack of additional overhung walls of course) and will iron themselves out.

Anonymous said...

I'm primary a route climber and love Movement. They did a great job with a medium sized space. The bouldering area is not the biggest but gets the job done. Their route setting is top notch throughout both areas.

However, the "fitness" area is horrible. There is not a single bar, for pull-ups or hanging leg raises, or a dip station. Their rings are setup too far apart. Their squat rack does not have catches or bumpers, making dumping a missed weight dangerous. Their largest kettlebell is less than a pood. The only thing I can train for in their "fitness" area is a seated one-legged butt kicking contest, via leg extension machines.

chad said...

I'm having positive experiences at Movement.

The walls:
the soft 12a you mention is runout (for the gym), but I thought that made it more fun. That's the only route I've done at Movement that I thought had a big fall.

I've had no trouble clipping. I actually find the steep wall easy to clip on since the holds are larger than holds on lower angle routes.

The bouldering seems to be good enough for the likes of some strong boulders.... I won't name names, but they are young, have dark hair, and have done jade. Although the bouldering grades are indeed a bit erratic, they are getting more consistent.

CATS will always be best for power.

Route setting:
I've climbed many routes (at my level there) and all in all I think the grades are fair.

I like the diversity. It is pulling me out of my box. I will try new things and perhaps get fitter and more flexible.

I will be psyched for this when my daughter is 6 months old. Daycare hours may be limited by laws regarding hours and licencing...

I like Movement for the steep wall, treadmills (with TV and ipod ports), sufficient bouldering (with better padding than the spot) and the clean, bright, open atmosphere.

This is a gym in Boulder... there will always be lines and spray. Oh well...bring a wetsuit.

Peter Beal said...

Good points all. As I tried to make clear my bias is toward bouldering and efficiency in training for climbing. Sadly I don't have time for treadmills or kettlebells and I don't even own an ipod.

I saw Paul bouldering there last night but realistically it's a very limited space. The floor is first-rate but the walls are what counts. Maybe Jamie E setting there will help.

The routesetting is good, I agree.