DC Bouldering Project creates a sense of community for all climbers in the District.
DC Bouldering Project (DCB) is all about community.
The Eckington-based gym, founded as Brooklyn Boulders in 2021, provides a space for rock climbers of all levels to build and sharpen their bouldering skills — and find a sense of belonging through movement.
“We want to facilitate meaningful connections and encourage people to try something new in a place they feel welcomed,” says Tyler Brent, DCB’s community marketing manager.
Bouldering, a form of free climbing performed low-to-the-ground without ropes or harnesses, is considered one of the more approachable climbing forms. Climbers simply need shoes and chalk to participate, another element that helps build community through accessibility.
Established in 2011 in Seattle, Bouldering Project was founded with the mission of fostering meaningful connection through inclusive climbing. Today, Bouldering Project hosts a network of seven gyms across the country — including DCB — in D.C., Austin, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City.
Membership extends to all locations and includes unlimited access to all bouldering routes, yoga, fitness classes and retail gear.
“One of my biggest passions is bringing movement and climbing to communities,” Brent says. “I’ve found so much power in different forms of movement and believe everyone should have access to them.”
Inclusivity remains one of DCB’s core values — and a guiding principle for how they build community.
Each week, the gym hosts a different D.C.-based affinity group, which bring together climbers of similar cultural, racial or gender-identifying backgrounds. Each group is sponsored by a local grassroots organization and receives free entry to the gym for the evening — a $30 per person value.
“When there are so few Hispanic climbers, it’s important to reduce barriers, one step at a time,” ¡Escala! ambassador Andrea Vega Yudico says. “Our Affinity Groups are a great way to do so.”
DCB’s financial inclusivity also helps lower barriers for climbers. Grace Thompson, a member and coordinator for Stonewall Sports, says free entry for Stonewall’s affinity group has key to growing a community of LGBTQIA+ climbers.
“Climbing gyms can be really expensive, which is just another barrier,” says Thompson, who is also a personal trainer and owner of Embody Pure Fitness. “This highlights the difference between equality versus equity. It’s important to find ways to uplift people who aren’t on the same footing.”
5 Beginner Bouldering Tips
- Use your legs. The lower body is much more powerful than the arms. Focus on footwork and lifting from your legs. Keep your arms as straight as possible.
- Break it down. Save physical and mental energy by breaking the problem into multiple sections. Isolate difficult moves, then link together after conquering each part.
- Visualize. Read the route by visualizing where to place your hands and feet. Practice your problem spots away from the wall first.
- Study up. One of the best ways to learn is by watching other climbers. Try studying videos of other climbers to learn different moves, hand holds and foot positioning.
- Find a climbing buddy. Other boulderers can show you different beta (route instructions) and inspire higher levels of creativity. Challenge yourself by climbing with someone slightly more experienced.
The gym also offers an impressive lineup of yoga and group fitness classes, including acroyoga — a partner practice that combines acrobatics with yoga — handstands and daily HIIT workouts. All classes are designed to complement climbing by building strength, endurance and flexibility.
The gym also offers a traditional workout area with treadmills, ellipticals and weights, and a dry sauna. Plus, an open office co-working space and member lounge.
“These offerings help build community in different areas and provides other spaces where people can interact with others,” Thompson says. “I think that’s an important feature of any community.”
Even the gym’s grading system is inclusive. Rather than using the traditional V scale, which ranks problems in order of increasing difficulty, Bouldering Project employs a circuit system. Circuit grades group problems according to range of difficulty, encouraging climbers to navigate boulders with an open mind.
As Brent continues growing DCB’s community, she envisions building in-house groups of different climbers to help shape the gym’s culture. She hopes this can create a consistent community that helps grow the gym’s membership base.
To do so, she’s planning to continue hosting weekly affinity group nights, as well as regular Bouldering Project-sponsored events like DJ nights, which feature $10 gym passes as an incentive for entry.
Most of all, Brent wants to continue building community where climbers of all backgrounds and levels feel at home — and empowered to invite others to join, too.
“There’s a lot of power in forming a space where people feel welcomed,” Brent says. “We hope we can encourage people try something new they just might fall in love with.”
Learn more about DC Bouldering Project and local community climbing groups below.
Climb Deaf DC: fb.com/groups/climbdeafdc
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