The large indoor climbing complex called Shaker Rocks will soon be a destination for climbers of every stripe all over Ohio and beyond.
By Zachary Lewis
“People are so excited,” says Annie Richman, owner and developer of Shaker Rocks, currently scheduled to open in March 2019 at the corner of Farnsleigh and Warrensville Center roads. “I know we’re doing the right thing. This is going to put Shaker on the climbing map.”
It may elevate more than just Shaker Heights. Given its size, capacity, and design, Shaker Rocks may give a boost to all of Northeast Ohio — the region’s young and future athletes, especially.
When Shaker Rocks opens, the 17,000-square-foot facility will offer 70 different climbing stations usable by some 200 participants at once. That’s enough for everything from a busy Friday night to a regional or statewide competition.
“We’re trying to do something different here,” Richman explains. “That’s the whole point of this. We could have gone into a warehouse somewhere, but that wouldn’t have been any fun.”
Even non-climbers will have to take note. Between its unusual design and prominent location, Shaker Rocks is bound to catch the eye of every motorist and pedestrian around the new Van Aken District.
Unlike most buildings in Shaker Heights, Shaker Rocks will be constructed not of traditional Shaker materials but of metal. On the architectural front, too, its sleek, modern design will stand out among the Van Aken District buildings.
“People are going to drive by and go ‘Wow, look at that.’ It’s not just another brick building,” Richman says, adding that at each unveiling of designs, “all we get is love. People are so supportive and encouraging. They’re so intrigued and impressed that a metal building can look so clever.”
Climbers, though, should be salivating. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or an advanced competitor, and almost no matter what style of climbing you prefer, Shaker Rocks will have you covered.
Represented across those 70 stations will be bouldering and lead, speed, auto-belay, and top-rope climbing. Also slated to be on site: a yoga studio and all-purpose exercise room with fitness equipment.
Don’t think of Shaker Rocks as a gym, in other words. Think of it as a place to play, and to get fitter in the process.
“People don’t really love going to the gym, but climbing up a wall is really fun,” Richman says. “Over time, people have realized climbing is a good thing.”
It’s certainly been good for Richman and family. Climbing, Richman says, turned her children into mature, responsible, and thoughtful teenagers, and her into a strong, broadly fit adult.
Soon others will start to experience the same benefits. With Shaker Rocks in its midst, Shaker Heights may soon be one of the fitter cities in Northeast Ohio.
“When I started climbing, I was sore in muscles I didn’t even know I had,” Richman says. “It works every muscle in your body, and a good portion of that is in your core. It’s probably the best all-around fitness activity there is.”