Social Encore: VRG reaches new peak
BY JERMEL-LYNN QUILLOPO / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Justin Ridgely helped spark interest in rock climbing when he launched Volcanic Rock Gym about two years ago. He established his first location in Waipio, later moving to Kakaako before shutting down and reopening in a bigger space in Kailua.
Ridgely recently opened a second location — Volcanic Climbing and Fitness — at 1212 Punahou St. and it offers members an all-in-one fitness destination.
The new gym offers Honolulu’s biggest indoor rock climbing space, standing 12 feet tall with three different course variations.
The slab wall is the most vertical and is considered one of the easiest. A second wall, the overhead, has a slight overhang with a main section measuring at 16 feet deep.
A third wall is an interpretation of what Ridgely considers an arch. With the three different variations, the gym brings outdoor performance fun indoors, all while keeping it safe with extra padding on the floors.
“These walls are a lot more powerful and intense,” he said. “You can have these short climbs on these walls that does a lot more for you … you can climb off the wall and feel it in your muscles and be like, ‘Wow, that’s some serious workout that I just did.’”
The 10,500-square-foot gym also offers weights, a cardio room, yoga studio, steam room, redwood sauna, massage by certified therapists, jacuzzi, ice plunge, men’s and women’s locker areas, showers and Honolulu’s only salt water swimming pool.
With over 16 years of experience in the rock climbing industry, Ridgley said many of the gym’s members were paying for two fitness memberships: a regular gym membership and a Volcanic’s rock climbing membership. He thought that he could create a merged gym that helps make his members’ fitness journeys complete.
“I thought if they could come to a one-stop shop where they could have the climbing, the fitness, the yoga, the cardio, the pool and the cafe … it seemed liked a good move and I wanted to create a fitness membership that I would buy,” Ridgely said.
Volcanic Climbing and Fitness also offers personal training and group classes by notable instructors including Coco Zhang, Trevor Moss and Courtney Wexler. The various classes give people a change to try different fitness regimes like kickboxing, boxing, Zumba, and several types of yoga like Ashtanga, Power, and Shakti Flow.
Ridgely said many of the workouts overlap; he said yoga, for example, has helped him become a more balanced and well-rounded climber.
Working out can build quite an appetite. Former owners of Aloha Bowls opened the Arch Café which uses a majority of locally grown ingredients and offers healthy options like smoothies, boba drinks, coffee by Morning Glass and acai bowls. One of the most popular bowls is the signature Arch Bowl. It has acai, Wailoa coconut water, mango, and banana; topped with granola, fresh banana, a generous scoop of haupia sorbet, honey and toasted coconut.
If you are looking for something to help repair your muscles, the T-Rex has peanut butter, banana, almond milk, strawberry and whey protein. Another great thing about the cafe is that you don’t have to be a member to pick up some healthy body fuel.
A gym built on creating self-awareness and capabilities, Ridgely said he hopes many prospective and current members are able to build confidence while getting a total body workout.
“Whether you are running on the treadmill or climbing on the wall, we want you to look at different angles that you may think that you will not be able to do,” he said. “Here, we want to make things easily accessible, want you to overcome your fears and give things a try.”
Jermel-Lynn Quillopo is a multi-faceted, energetic individual with experience in both print and broadcast journalism. “Social Encore” aims to tell diverse stories about Hawaii’s food, events and people; share your tips with Jermel via email or follow her on Twitter.