By Ryan Todd
Located at 3563 Phillips Highway in Suite 702 is one of Jacksonville’s best kept secrets for fitness enthusiasts, adventurers or anyone looking to change up their work-out routine.
Nestled right behind the Taco Bell and McDonalds, and situated in-between the business district is The Edge Rock Gym, Jacksonville’s one and only indoor rock climbing facility.
As you step inside you’re greeted by friendly staff at the front desk, and a massive artificial rock wall looms just out of reach where experienced climbers and beginners alike tackle multiple routes of varying difficulty.
“It’s great for everyone,” said Samantha Small, a mother of two. “It’s a great way to wear the kids out before they wear you out.” And Mrs. Small isn’t kidding. Rock climbing is a full body workout that not only tests your upper-body and grip-strength to its limits, but your problem solving skills as well.
Each route (that’s rock climbing lingo for that path you’re supposed to climb) is designed with varying degrees of difficulty–from the most basic vertical climb, to ascents so complex that frequent stops will be necessary to figure out the next move.
But, if you’re not in shape don’t fret. Even though rock climbing is physically demanding, the rock gym has a pulley system in place called the auto-belay that will become your new best friend. The auto-belay allows you to climb the wall solo and uses resistance based on your weight.
“Yes, we’ve seen five-year-olds make adults look weak.” states The Edge Rock Gym website, and that claim is no joke.
On this particular day, school is out due to summer break and Cortney McCormick and her family are celebrating her sweet sixteenth. Children of all ages, from 5-17 are tackling the rock walls and look like they’re having a blast. “I like to watch the pros do their thing,” Courtney’s mother, Magz said. “They make it look easy.”
Not only is the gym great fun for first-timers and casual climbers, but they also host professional rock climbing competitions if that’s your cup of tea.
The Edge Rock Gym is open seven days a week: Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.