Entertainment and Sports

Raise Your Hammer

Gravity Climbing Gym, like Hamilton, is a sweet secret destined to get out.

By Kevin Somers
Published April 30, 2007

My big girl turned 10 recently and she wanted to celebrate at Gravity Climbing Gym in Hamilton's west end. Until talk of the party, I didn't know Gravity existed. Located on Frid St., not far from the Hamilton Spectator, the climbing gym, like Hamilton, is a sweet secret destined to get out.

The visit to Gravity was a great experience. The party girls arrived nervous and giddy with anticipation. After a stern introduction to the safety regulations, the climbing got underway and it was awesome.

I am comically, pathetically, irrationally afraid of heights. On my only attempt at rock climbing, I shook like Elvis 5 feet up, so watching the girls, aged 7 – 10, scale tall walls competently and with increasing confidence was wonderful.

After two hours, they had all gone to places they didn't think possible upon arrival. Their excitement and pride was tangible. My wife has since taken Gravity's rope-handling course and her and my daughters have been already back, challenging themselves to greater heights and difficulties.

Even for a land-loving, bridge-balcony-and-airplane-hating someone like me, it's easy to see the appeal in climbing. The sport requires courage, discipline, fitness, flexibility, focus, intelligence, and strength. I can't imagine anything more challenging and I'm glad my daughters are enthusiastic about it. I hope it lasts. Fortunately, my wife is a natural and she's keen to go with them, giving me time alone to walk the dog and watch playoffs. It's win / win. Go, girls. Go, Raptors!

Gravity Climbing Gym is everything I love about Hamilton: unpretentious, friendly, and reasonable. It's in a warehouse at the back of a big, potted, unpaved driveway / parking lot. There are no signs (that I saw) and we weren't sure where the door was, at first. Once inside, however, everyone was mesmerized by people climbing the walls. It was like being on the set of Spiderman.

Reid Monk of Toronto opened Gravity 13 years ago. Following his father's advice to earn a living doing something he loved, Reid moved to "affordable" Hamilton and set up shop. He's been here since and loves it. An experienced climber, builder, and do-it-yourselfer, Monk, along with his brother, turned a high-ceilinged warehouse into an urban climbing oasis and successful business.

There is a Steel-City meets Himalayan base camp vibe to Gravity. There are no frills, but the picnic tables and mishmash of donated couches are well worn and comfortable. The place wasn't crowded and everyone was friendly.

Except for a recent ad at the indoor-soccer facility down the street, Gravity has never advertised and relies upon word of mouth for business, which has never been in trouble. Safety is a critical element to their success and there have been no serious injuries in 13 years.

If you've ever been curious about climbing, Gravity Climbing Gym is a good place to start. This is a good time, too, because summer is a slow period. There is something for everyone: Gravity has beginner walls to warm up or learn basics, climbs which are "almost impossible," and everything in between.

Gravity provides a nice opportunity to get fit, have fun, and raise your hammer. Information, phone numbers, hours, location, and images can be seen at www.gravityclimbinggym.com. Be sure to call ahead.

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Kevin Somers is a Hamilton writer.

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By kevin (registered) | Posted May 01, 2007 at 12:47:02

I just had very same experience and wrote about it, too!

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 01, 2007 at 12:56:18

Heh heh, sorry about that. I fixed the article.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 01, 2007 at 22:22:58

great piece Kevin. I've never even heard of this place....13 years in business?! Crazy.

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By spiderdude (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2007 at 17:05:36

make sure you know exactly where it is because there is no sign on Frid st.

the gym is at the very back (west) of the long warehouse immediately south of the spec building.

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By kevin (registered) | Posted May 04, 2007 at 17:59:57

Thanks, Jason. It really is a great spot, highly recommmended.

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