Skip to main content

Today's Family Magazine

Reach new heights at Shaker Rocks climbing gym

By Nina Polien Light

The Richman family traveled to youth climbing competitions throughout the country when their three now-grown children were in high school.  Along the way, they visited impressive rock gyms that far outshined Cleveland’s facilities.

“I live in Shaker Heights and knowing that the Van Aken District was popping up, I thought it would be a fantastic place to have a modern climbing gym,” says Annie Richman, a former elementary educator, who is opening Shaker Rocks in April with her husband, Spencer.  “Most rock gyms are in industrial warehouse neighborhoods because that’s where tall buildings can be found.  We are in a residential area with restaurants, shops and recreation next door, which is attractive to a lot of people.”

Shaker Rocks sports 14,000 square feet of climbing surface plus a yoga studio, fitness area and locker rooms.  Vending machines are available as well as space for birthday parties, family reunions, corporate team-building events and other occasions.  In addition to open climbing times and parties, the facility will offer climbing classes, yoga classes and summer camp.  Down the line, Richman hopes to establish a youth climbing team, pointing out climbing will be represented for the first time in the 2020 Olympic Games.

Shaker Rocks is open to people of all ages and abilities.  Climbing can be a multigenerational family activity, Richman insists.

“It doesn’t matter how young or old or how strong or not strong you may be,” she says.  “It’s an activity people can enjoy equally by climbing (courses or walls of) different difficulties.  I can do this with my kids and with my 80-year-old dad.”

Richman says her gym boasts more climbing under one roof than any other gym in northeast Ohio.  Several climbing systems are featured.  Bouldering allows climbers to scale shorter walls, without ropes; after climbing, they drop onto a big, cushy crash pad.  Some climbs work with belay and auto-belay mechanisms.  Both require the climber to be tethered to a rope.  The former relies on a non-climber to manage the rope, while the latter does not.  Instead, the rope automatically retracts to lower the climber slowly.

“We have lots of lead climbing, which is something that’s been lacking in Cleveland for a long time,” Richman says.  “It’s slightly more technical, where you protect yourself as you go instead of being attached to a top rope.  You climb and hook the rope into protection above you, then you keep climbing above that until you get to the next piece of protection and so on.”

The gym has the area’s first speed wall, she adds.

Among the gear in Shaker Rocks’ fitness area are systems boards, campus rungs, free weights and hang boards. Guests are welcome to change clothes and shower in locker rooms before or after workouts, but must provide their own locks and towels.

Annual and monthly memberships are available as are punch cards for classes or day passes (which include all attractions and classes).

Richman says indoor climbing provides more than family-friendly entertainment.  Among its benefits are increasing personal determination, encouraging a stronger work ethic, boosting physical and mental fitness and building community.

Shaker Rocks is located at 3377 Warrensville Center Road.  The phone number is 216-848-0460 and the website is