Memphis Rox: Local gym helps community climb to new heights

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — From down home blues music, to a thriving riverfront (and not the mention the food), FOX13 wants you to discover what makes the City of Memphis great.

We’re kicking off a new segment called Memphis Momentum.

We’re highlighting hidden gems, places, people and organizations that are interesting and right here in your own back yard.

Let’s head to South Memphis, where FOX13′s Darcy Thomas will take you on a tour of a local gym.

Bouldering, traverse and routes are all terms you will find at a rock climbing gym.

Memphis Rox is the first non-profit climbing gym and community center.

If you’re in South Memphis, particularly Soulsville, you may want to try your hand and foot and climb to the top. Memphis Rox is more than a climbing gym. It was developed as an inclusive community, with a crossroads of relationships, not focused on race, age or gender, simply people.

As soon as you walk in, there’s one goal..

“Treat everybody like family,” says Chris Dean.

Dean is one of the founder members of the gym, along with writer and director Tom Shadyac.

Within this 32-thousand square foot climbing gym you will, find an array of angled walls and colorful and some complex routes, holds of all shapes and sizes and ropes.

“The climbing culture is just way more friendly, it’s not you vs me, it’s you vs yourself. It’s you vs the wall that’s why I am so happy, you’re going to climb today,” says Dean.

Some of the walls at the gym are taller than a 3 story building. Not sure if looking up or looking down is worse, but on this day we’re going to try our hand at climbing.

“So joining me now is John Hawk, he’s going to show me how to get inside of this, I think it’s a contraption. It’s actually a harness.”

Once I’m properly strapped into the harness, a rope is used, this is called belaying, to secure me to the wall and the person below.

“So this is called a grigri, it’s a belay device, this is what’s going to help catch your falls,” says Hawk.

The wall to conquer is 47 feet high. I carefully place my feet and grip my hands on a hot pink hold and start climbing.

Hawk tells me to try to use the tips of my toes, and he says it’s not easy.

I quickly realize climbing is a rigorous, core workout, where you need to focus balance and coordination.

Hawk tell me while I dangle against the wall, “I got you anytime you want to rest, I’m not sure I’m going to make it to the top, it’s whatever makes you comfortable.”

At about 30 feet up, I quickly realized it was time to know my limits. If you’re searching for a full body workout, you may want to try rock climbing.

Memphis Rox is open 7 days a week and is a pay what you can gym.

Most of the employees at the gym, also live in the Soulsville community.

It’s located at 879 E. McLemore Ave.