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A rock bouldering gym is coming to Tysons, with coffee shop in tow

(Updated at 11 a.m. on 12/10/2021) This coming spring, Tysons residents and visitors will be able to scale a rock wall, host a Zoom meeting, and grab their morning coffee all in one place.

The Manassas-based Vertical Rock Climbing and Fitness plans to open a second gym in the Best Buy-anchored shopping center at 8461 Leesburg Pike, near The Boro and the Spring Hill Metro station, as the Washington Business Journal reported in August.

The new, 12,000 square-foot facility will contain not only rock walls for bouldering, a form of rock climbing that doesn’t use ropes, but also a ground-floor coffee shop and coworking space that will be open to both gym members and the general public.

“Coffee and climbing go together,” Vertical Rock co-owner and CEO Ian Colton told Tysons Reporter. “A lot of climbers like coffee, and we personally have a huge affection for coffee. We want to make sure we come up with a premium coffee shop, and it’s reflected in the layout and design we’re bringing to the table.”

Called Basecamp Coffee Roasters, the coffee shop will essentially operate like a separate business that just happens to share the same building.

While options like online ordering will be available for those looking to grab a cup of coffee on the go, Colton envisions a Central Perk-like hangout spot that encourages people to linger, catching up with friends or on work — possibly after breaking a sweat at the gym upstairs.

“We want to make this atmosphere as friendly, inviting, and engaging as we possibly can,” he said. “…With the new normal of not necessarily working in an office and a lot of remote school, where the new norm is to be able to kind of social distance but also be there and present, this facility can give you all of that.”

The inclusion of a coffee shop is one way that Vertical Rock is adapting its concept to the more urban environment that drew the company to Tysons after launching in Manassas in 2012.

Where the Manassas center features 55-foot-tall rock walls with ropes for climbing, the smaller Tysons facility will focus exclusively on bouldering, with walls ranging from 14 to 16 feet in height and 14 inches of floor padding for protection.

The shift reflects the more limited amount of space available in an increasingly dense area like Tysons. Vertical Rock spent about five years looking for a location in the Fairfax County area before finding the Leesburg Pike space, according to Colton.

Bouldering also gives users more flexibility since, unlike rope-based rock climbing, it can be done solo, requires minimal equipment, and allows participants to move at their own pace, Colton says.

The Tysons facility will accommodate different ages and levels of experience, from beginners to athletes training for the Olympics, which featured sport climbing as an official event for the first time this year.

“All you need really is a chalk bag and a pair of climbing shoes, and you can get in and you can climb,” Colton said, noting that those items and other climbing gear will be available for rental or purchase.

Vertical Rock Tysons started pre-sales for its gym passes in November. It will offer one-day, monthly, annual, and flex passes.

Colton anticipates starting occupancy in mid-April, though the COVID-19 pandemic has had “a huge impact” on getting the facility in place. A sign posted to the site door still suggests that it will open this December.

Aware that people may still be wary of exercising indoors, Colton says Vertical Rock is designing the site to be spacious and making equipment and operational investments to create the safest possible environment.

“I think the biggest thing we’re really trying to bring to the table is a community-focused facility, and that being something that caters to local Fairfax County,” Colton said. “We want to continue the engagement for healthy and new ways of staying physically fit and connecting you to the outdoors, and that’s really been our mantra since we opened up.”

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