Best Climbing Gym: Like muscles? We got ’em

Berkeley Ironworks

Even if you can’t do, you can still watch, and there are few places in the East Bay with such a high concentration of muscled, godlike amateur athletes as Ironworks climbing gym in West Berkeley. Short of getting front-row seats at a gymnastics competition, there’s no better place to see the human muscular system in action than from the bleachers conveniently situated in front of the gym’s fourteen thousand square feet of indoor climbing challenges. You’re equally likely to see shirtless guys with muscles coiled and ready to spring for a faraway jug and brawny gals in strappy Prana tanks poised on one toe, fingers crimped around a tiny chip of plastic. For a closer view, head over to where climbers with bulging forearms and rippled backs contort in a vertical gymnastics routine to scale the 120-foot-long, 20-foot-high bouldering wall. When you’re ready to try it yourself, don’t be shy. Just walk over to that climber with the big guns and ask, “Hey, baby, need a belay?”

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