Inside the home of a former cotton press, a new gym on Tchoupitoulas Street soon will offer 2,500 square feet of boulder climbing, where people of all experience levels can try a hand, and a foot, at the popular sport.
Along with the climbing wall, the New Orleans Boulder Lounge also houses a yoga studio, fitness center and a cafe, where live music is planned. It opens Saturday.
“The thing that makes bouldering a big draw is that there’s not as much technical know-how to it in terms of belay gear and ropes and all that, so you can come in and rent a pair of shoes and be on the wall in 10 minutes,” said Eli Klarman, a Tulane graduate who opened the space with partners Andrew Weekes, Andrew Dreis and Daniel Bressler.
“It also is a much more social form of the sport because you don’t need a partner, you can come in on your own and climb, and climbers really like to help one another out.”
Bouldering relies on walls that resemble rock and create a simulated climbing experience. Climbers scale 12- to 14½-foot walls with no ropes to move up and down and side to side.
Twelve- to 14-inch foam pads await below to ensure a soft landing in case of a tumble.
“Climbing is a very intense workout,” Klarman said. “You’re using every muscle in the body when you’re climbing.”
But perhaps most appealing, it doesn’t feel like a workout.
“The beautiful thing to me about climbing is that it’s great exercise,” Klarman said, “but I don’t really like to call it a workout because you come in, you have a ton of fun.
“You’re climbing up and down, it doesn’t feel like you’re working too hard, and then you wake up the next morning with just the greatest feeling of soreness throughout your entire body, and then you realize that ‘Wow, I really worked hard yesterday.’ ”
Klarman and his partners wanted to create a community space that serves the health-conscious and promotes a healthy lifestyle to the city’s youth.
New Orleans, a city that loves its parties and food, can sometimes feel devoid of options for those pursing an active regime, Klarman said.
“Most of the social scene in New Orleans revolves around music and partying, which are great things, but it’s important to have other options,” he said. “Creating an active social setting is really the main goal, and then we wanted to create kid-friendly and family-friendly activities.”
The lounge is meant to foster a community, rather than a stuffy workout environment.
“We’re big into having community access,” Klarman said. “A lot of times, health and fitness are things that are limited to those with financial access to it, but we want to make sure anyone can get in here and be introduced to this sport, have an opportunity to climb and have fun.”
The gym, at 1746 Tchoupitoulas St., will offer memberships and day passes. For information, go to www.climbnobl.com.