By the GFC Team
When someone enjoys an exercise they are more inclined to stick with it. The number one reason people stop going to the gym is because they lack the motivation to return and continue.
Keeping this in mind, the Get Fit Clovis team set out to look for non-conventional ways of exercising – something that was fun and would keep you going back and back again. The first gym that interested us was MetalMark Climbing & Fitness, located on N. Cedar Ave. in Fresno.
The facility houses 48 foot high lead walls, 1,200 square feet of climbing terrain, 80 top and lead ropes, and 2,000 square feet of bouldering area. Curiosity struck us all and we decided to take a trip down to the multi-functional gym.
JP Moya, one of the trainers who has worked at the facility for over two years, took GFC on the MetalMark adventure. He showed us all the different areas of the gym which included the rock climbing walls; a free climb area with boulders; a weightlifting corner; a fitness room where yoga, Tabata training, Zumba, cycling and other fitness classes are taught; and a cardio area.
“Everyone here is friendly and like minded. I like the sense of community we have here,” JP said. “The three types of people you find here are people that like to get fit, people who like to climb, and people who like to socialize and have fun.”
He continued to say the community is extremely welcoming and warm, which is great for beginner climbers because everyone is looking to encourage each other.
“I know what it is like to be a beginner climber, so even watching you guys struggle a little bit, I understand it so I am psyched when you guys do well because every little victory is a huge victory for beginners,” JP said.
Most people that walk into the gym, JP said, are in their late teens to late 30’s but they see people of all ages, especially school aged kids that come as part of specialized fitness programs.
“During this season since it is raining so much, Yosemite Valley has received a lot of snow and storms, so we do get some pro climbers from Yosemite who come down and climb,” JP said “We get a mix of everything.”
JP encourages people who are interested to take the leap and give MetalMark a try.
“If anything you will get a really fun experience out of it,” JP said. “You get to challenge yourself. It is different here, it’s not like walking into any other gym. Here it is deceptively fun while also being hard.”
What did Diana think?
When I initially heard about Metalmark Fitness I thought it was an interesting concept for a gym. I hear most people say they don’t like working out because it is boring, and I understand that, doing the same thing every day can get mundane. But if you work out in a sport or doing something out of the ordinary – maybe, just maybe – people might be more inclined to continue exercising – especially if they don’t realize they are doing it. I was pretty excited to try this gym out.
When I first walked in my attention was instantaneously drawn upward – the towering rock climbing wall looked intimidating. “I don’t think I’ll get all the way up there,” I thought.
I realized there were people at the front desk when I heard, “I assume this is your first time here from your reaction.” Yes, yes it was and I was both terrified and ready.
After signing the waiver and picking out the correct size shoe, we were ready for step one – learn safety. When I realized the rockwall was not set up like the ones at an amusement-type park I felt a little more fear. It would be upon myself to tie my own rope and trust another person to catch me if I fell and on my descend. Well, I better not fall, I thought.
JP took us all to a wall and began going through all the safety instructions and the proper way to tie the ropes, both for rock climbing and belaying. He was very patient with each of us, ensuring we understood and felt comfortable tying the rope. The mnemonic devices he taught us definitely came in handy when I was doing it by myself.
His instructions put me at ease. I felt much more comfortable giving someone my undoubted confidence as I ascended dozens of feet in the air.
Once we began and set ourselves up on the beginner rock climbing wall I launched at the opportunity to go first. If I was going to do this, I needed to let go of my fear. I began grabbing one notch with my hand and placing my feet up – and again and again. But then I started to feel it. My mind didn’t want me to continue. I looked down and I knew I would not be able to push myself to move up.
“Let yourself fall,” someone suggested. Yes. I told the person belaying me to prepare for me to fall. I let go and sure enough I was dangling in the air. The hardness pressed against my legs and I knew I would be safe.
I continued, reached the top, and when I came down I asked JP if I could try a harder route. As we continued to alternate the climbers and the routes, JP stayed with us making sure we felt comfortable and safe. He even provided us with tips as we went up. I told him that my forearms were getting tired quickly. He explained to me that it was because I was bracing myself and tensing up: “relax and extend your arms, let your body lean back, and let all the weight rest on your legs,” he instructed me.
I tried it again and instantly felt the difference.
My favorite part of the experience was seeing all the different levels of climbers there. I was astounded to the experienced climbers spiderman-like moves as they scaled the wall. I now understand why I have heard many recreational rock climbers begin their journey at MetalMark before they take a leap in the real world.
Although Metalmark is a facility I could see myself spending endless hours in, the downside to it is the how expensive the memberships are. However putting in perspective with other gyms in the area, for what Metalmark offers, I do think it is reasonable. At $20 for a day, it’s a great place to have a date for people who are adventure seekers but don’t want to leave town for the day.
What did Caitie think?
I consider myself to be someone who’s not afraid to throw themselves into new experiences. Yet, walking into the MetalMark facility and gazing up the climbing walls I remember feeling all the usual hesitations you get when you try anything new; butterflies in the stomach, sweaty palms, and a little voice in my head begging for a way out.
Luckily, when you walk in and are greeted by the friendly staff behind the counter, they leave you with little time for doubt. They got us started right away by having us complete waivers and try on rental shoes. I’m very glad I wore socks that day.
Our group took the beginner’s climbing workshop where all the basics were covered, from the ground up so to speak. Our instructor demonstrated how to put on a harness, then moved on to tying knots and belaying technique. We were all shown a thorough step by step process of safety checks which all climbers are required to pass. This was a calming time to get my bearings and feel more secure in the fact that there are procedures in place so no one gets hurt.
Once the whole group was ready, we prepared for the initial climb. Climbing for the first time made me aware of muscles I didn’t even know existed because I could feel them burning gently under my skin. This felt amazing!
I do have to say, though, what was not amazing was how uncomfortable the shoes they provide are. The shoes are the worst part, for sure. They were tight and they hurt.
Another thing I would like to mention is that I did get a pretty severe rope burn on my hand. My advice on this is to be careful and to pay attention when proper belaying technique is covered. Where you place your hands does matter.
The great thing about climbing is that there’s always something to work on, whether it’s getting over that initial fear of reaching the top, improving your technique or moving outdoors for a more high-stakes climb.
MetalMark provides a safe and effectual playground for climbers of all levels. It’s also a great solution if you’re looking to step up your fitness routine or break up the monotony. This is one gym you won’t get bored at.
I would recommend experiencing a climb at MetalMark, especially for a date or a team building exercise.
What did Leticia think?
Walking in to MetalMark felt like an amazing place to try rock-climbing for the first time. The building is larger than one would expect and the inside is breathtaking. The ceiling is high, natural lighting brightens up the building, and the rock-climbing walls fill the space to the top.
I’ve only recently begun engaging in physical activity in order to improve my health. I’ve been an overweight individual since I was a child as doing physical activity wasn’t always something I was interested in.
To be completely honest, having to spend an hour on the elliptical trainer is still sometimes a drag. But I do it anyway because I know I don’t want to continue with an unhealthy lifestyle. I don’t usually engage in an extraneous physical activity because I’m doubtful of what my body can actually handle. But today was the exception.
After gearing up and going through the beginner’s course on how to work all the gear my confidence increased. I knew my body wasn’t conditioned to try something of this nature but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from at least trying it.
Because, “if you never try, you’ll never know,” just happens to be my favorite lyric by Coldplay.
Once the Get Fit Clovis team was geared up, we were on our way. Up first was our editor, Diana Giraldo. She began climbing with strength and quickly reached the top only after fearfully stopping once but was able to continue soon after confirming that she was safely tied.
Watching her ring the bell from the highest step only continued to feed my confidence. Had me thinking, “Maybe it’s not as difficult as it looks.”
Soon it was my turn; I partnered up and made sure that the gear was safely tied. And I began climbing. I was told to only use my arms as a safety and my lower body strength as the main source to pull myself up. I can’t say I followed through with that. I only remember actually using my legs to push myself a couple of times.
When I did use them, it was fulfilling; it felt effortless. But I ended up spending the majority of my time trying to pull myself up with my arms, even after knowing that it wasn’t very effective.
I rested a few times before realizing that I was exhausted and had no energy left to even try to use my legs as the main source of strength. I’m not sure how high I was able to climb; it must have been at least half way up, if not, slightly less.
But regardless of how high I was able to climb ultimately I knew that it was higher than where I began and I wouldn’t have been able to do that without trying.
I must say, I felt very accomplished and I am looking forward to working on conditioning my body enough to try this again and be able to ring that bell! And not have my arms be sore for over four days.