Central Rock Gym in Hadley wraps up large expansion of its Route 9 facility

  • Matthew Brown, 8, of South Hadley, boulders at the newly expanded Central Rock Gym in Hadley on Saturday, Dec. 16. GAZETTE STAFF/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Allison Neal, left, of Northampton, and University of Massachusetts student Brynne McConnell of Worcester work out in the new fitness room. GAZETTE STAFF/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Kiara and Gary Stone of Springfield use one of the bouldering areas. GAZETTE STAFF/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Kiara Stone of Springfield boulders at the newly expanded Central Rock Gym in Hadley on Saturday, Dec. 16. GAZETTE STAFF/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Gary Stone of Springfield belays for his wife, Kiara, as she climbs at Central Rock Gym. GAZETTE STAFF/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Matthew Brown, 8, of South Hadley boulders at the newly expanded Central Rock Gym in Hadley on Saturday, Dec. 16. GAZETTE STAFF/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Christine Brown of South Hadley watches her son, Matthew, 8, boulder at the newly expanded Central Rock Gym in Hadley on Saturday, Dec. 16. GAZETTE STAFF/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Lauren Brown, 10, of South Hadley, belayed by her father Charles Brown (not shown.) GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • The newly expanded section of Central Rock Gym, right, is accessed through the main entrance of the older section, left, in Hadley. GAZETTE STAFF/KEVIN GUTTING

  • General view of the eastern end of the newly expanded Central Rock Gym in Hadley showing the belay, left, and bouldering, right, areas. GAZETTE STAFF/KEVIN GUTTING

  • University of Massachusetts Amherst student Dillon Coutinho boulders at the newly expanded Central Rock Gym. GAZETTE STAFF/KEVIN GUTTING

Monday, January 08, 2018

HADLEY — When some business locations expand, they add on another wing. But when Central Rock Gym Hadley chose to expand, it decided to tack on an entire building’s worth of space to its 165 Russel St. facility.

The new building, which opened in December after nine months of construction, gives rock climbing and fitness junkies much more space to practice their craft.

“People love it,” said Hana Skirkey, Central Rock Gym Hadley’s general manager.

The new 11,600-square-foot building consists of 8,000 square feet of additional climbing surface, 200 linear feet of new bouldering walls, 24 Top Rope stations, a 2,100-square-foot dedicated fitness room and a 900-square-foot dedicated yoga room. The growing business also has 80 additional parking spaces.

“This is a generous investment,” said Rob Sullivan, on the expansion, who has been climbing since 1992, and a patron of Central Rock Gym Hadley since it open in 2011.

Fully connected to the base facility, the expansion was constructed in part to accommodate the inflows of people Central Rock Gym has during busy hours. The gym is open seven days a week, with the busiest times being weekends and evenings.

“It’s really busy,” Skirkey said.

The walls in the expansion were all done with a new climbing material that is more textured. “It mimics, in some ways, real rock climbing,” said Sullivan.

The material was installed in sections, which has the added benefit of making the expansion easier to repair.

“The addition is great,” said Pamela Matsuda-Dunn, who has been climbing since 2013, after her daughter introduced her to the sport.

Matsuda-Dunn said that she likes the moves of rock climbing, and how it feels to be on a wall.

“It’s nice to be strong at my age,” said Matsuda-Dunn, who is in her early 60s and a former ballet dancer.

Central Rock Gym Hadley offers both classes, day passes and memberships to those who want to use its facilities. The company believes it is the second largest and the second oldest Central Rock Gym. The franchise currently has 11 locations, although not all of them are fully open at this time.

The climbing and bouldering courses at Central Rock Gym are constantly changed by the setting team, so that the experience does not get stale for patrons.

The head setter at Central Rock Gym Hadley is Brian Adams. Although he is just two months into the job, Adams is no stranger to the profession, having done professional setting for the last decade.

Adams and his crew of two other people make sure there is a good rotation in routes. They also complete safety checks. Adams himself figures out the distribution of difficulty for routes at the facility, and the three of them each design routs.

“Fairness is probably the biggest thing,” said Adams, when asked what he looks at when designing a route.

This means making sure that the most people at the appropriate skill level can complete the course, regardless of their age or height.

“It’s super exciting,” said Adams, of the expansion.

He said that its expansion of bouldering helped match the options available to rope climbers at the facility. Additionally, he said that the expansion contains angles for bouldering that weren’t previously available at the gym. This is particularly useful for those who do competitive bouldering, including the youth team that’s based out of Central Rock Gym Hadley.

Adams, who recently moved from Portland, Oregon, said that rock climbing is a very friendly sport to get into, and that the community surrounding it was a big reason why he started climbing 11 years ago.

“Don’t wait,” Adams said. “Come on in.”

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com