Hang On

By Danielle Directo-Meston
Photos by Ryan P. Kelly

Taking a deep breath can help solve more than one  "problem" when working out at Grotto Climbing & Yoga, an indoor rock climbing/yoga gym that opened mid-December in Grantville.

For founders and avid climbers Bryan Baez and Matt Martinez, one of the goals in combining two seemingly divergent fitness disciplines is to help people harness the power of pranayama, a Sanskrit word relating to the art of controlling breathing to enhance and extend life.

"But it's not just the whole mind/body/spirit concept of it all," says Martinez, who describes his first yoga experience as humbling. "Yoga helps improve flexibility... It just works so well with climbing."

Tackling climbing routes (often referred to by climbers as "problems") requires a sense of calm, the mastering of which can be enhanced through the practice of yoga. The focus at Grotto is bringing together like-minded devotees from the yoga and climbing communities, encouraging them to learn from one another.

"It's a place where you can come down and hang out, be willing to have some fun, and try new things," says Martinez. "We just want to encourage people and keep this sport [climbing] growing in a positive way."

Its immense climbing field gives Grotto a leg up on other local climbing facilities. Considered a guru in the climbing world, guidebook author, sport climber and climbing-wall builder Louie Anderson designed the gym's 7,000-square-foot wall to challenge beginners and experts alike.

But for those who've never left the ground before, never fear, says Martinez.

"With practice, anything is possible," he says.

On top of in-studio yoga and climbing workshops, Grotto offers monthly yoga and climbing retreats for all ages. Who knew getting a grip could feel so Zen?


Beginner's Tip:

Not ready to shell out cash for a new hobby? Grotto Climbing & Yoga offers equipment (harness and climbing-shoe) rentals, plus day-passes and a la carte class pricing for nonmembers.

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Grotto Climbing & Yoga
4460 Alvarado Canyon Rd., Grantville
860.283.2105, grottoclimbing.com

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