By Gus Herrera
Arcadia Rock Climbing, also known as the ARC, successfully combines the professionalism of a specialized training center, with the family-friendly environment of a local playground.
General Manager Lisa Berryman, who has been at the helm of the operation for seven years, was seemingly born for her leading role at the ARC, “I’ve been in gym business my entire life … I worked at a health spa, managed nutrition centers in gyms … my mom was a P.E. teacher and I even married professional body builder.”
Despite having spent a lifetime in the fitness industry, she had never managed a gym quite like this – partly because the ARC is a very rare breed.
Housed in what used to be a glass warehouse, the ARC is a massive space of wall-to-wall excitement. Each wall is laced with countless rubber “rocks,” which form colorful “paths” for climbers of all ages and backgrounds to explore.
These paths (sometimes referred to as “problems”) change every other week and come in several different difficulties, which are each designed to help train climbers for the challenges of climbing outdoors.
Not only does the variety help keep things fresh, ensuring that every visit to the ARC is a new experience, but, more importantly, it helps expose climbers to different situations, hopefully sharpening the adaptability of their physical and mental skills.
Everybody on staff is a dedicated rock climber, so there is a certain level of excitement and artistic expression that goes into the path-setting every other Sunday. As a result, Mondays after new paths are set have become very popular, with members flocking in to try and crack the ARC’s newest rock riddles.
Berryman describes how these paths/problems challenge the mind, as well as the body, “you’re supposed to really step back and figure out where you’re going to put your hands and feet. The level of difficulty can be really extreme – it can get to a level where you have to be climbing with what we call ‘pinches,’ just using fingers basically.”
Climbing is fun for all ages and, second to running, is one of the more natural workouts for the human body. The urge to climb starts at a young age – in the words of Berryman, “It starts when you’re really little and you’re climbing all over the house, then your parents say, ‘get off that!’”
Although climbing is an extreme workout, which tests the entire body, it can be considered entertainment, as much as fitness. The ARC provides a friendly environment for all sorts of events: Cub Scout merit badge overnights, birthdays, bachelor/bachelorette parties, corporate team-building events, and more. Bookings include access to the ARC’s party room (tables/chairs included), arm wrestling table, ping pong table, slack line, and plenty of comfortable couches.
The ARC’s Summer Camp for kids is currently underway and registration is still open. From 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on weekdays, participants enjoy climbing/rope games, team-building exercises, obstacle courses, the ARC’s famous rope swing, and more. A snack is provided each day and at the conclusion of the week, on Fridays, there is a massive water balloon war for the kids to cool off from all the climbing.
The ARC also offers an Intro to Bouldering class, as well as a one-hour Staff Belay Lesson. Day passes are available for casual guests, while pre-paid memberships cater to the more dedicated climbers.
The ARC is also deeply involved with the community, hosting special programs with local organizations such as Optimist Youth Home and Trinity Home, to name a couple. For the past 10 years, they have also been officially integrated into La Canada Middle School’s physical fitness program.
Arcadia Rock Climbing is located at 305 N. Santa Anita Ave. and is open seven days a week. For more information, call (626) 294-9111 or visit www.arcadiarockclimbing.com.