As a climber and a Greenpointer, I was beyond stoked to find out that both VITAL Brooklyn and GP81 offer two hyperlocal spots to climb. VITAL Brooklyn is the new kid on the block, it opened in April 2021, while GP81 has been around since 2018.
So where do newbie and seasoned climbers start? The founders of both gyms share what they have to offer:
VITAL Brooklyn (22 North 14th Street)
Why did you pick this Greenpoint spot specifically?
David Sacher, VITAL co-founder: It’s a perfect location! Greenpoint and Williamsburg are wonderful neighborhoods. With all the old industrial buildings, parks and waterfront, it’s a gorgeous area. VITAL Brooklyn is located right in the middle of both neighborhoods. Our building is HUGE, which allows us to provide one of the rarest things in the city – some space! We were also able to preserve portions of the old warehouse which gives the gym an incredible feel.
How did the idea for VITAL Brooklyn come about?
We were traveling all over the country, looking for a place to open our next gym. Brooklyn is such a fun and interesting place. We knew it would be a good fit. We found this building, which was a dilapidated old warehouse then. We climbed through a skylight, up onto the roof and were greeted by the Manhattan skyline. There was snow up there at the time and the sun was setting. That’s when we knew we had something special, and decided to make the most of it.
How does VITAL Brooklyn aim to serve the Greenpoint community and the climbing community at large?
Our mission is to create places that people love. I think people who come to the gym can feel that, even if they don’t know it. I think that places like this are a really important part of living a full and connected life – this has become especially true during COVID. Being alone isn’t good for people. We need to be together. And if we can take on challenges together, such as climbing to the top of a wall, that’s a powerful way to build bonds between people.
Brian, a climber at VITAL Brooklyn, says, ‘I loved my first time climbing at VITAL. The gym is a gorgeous open space with great beginner routes for someone like me and aspirational harder routes to keep me motivated. Topping out on the rooftop wall is a climbing experience unlike anything in New York City.’
An insider tip: – VITAL Brooklyn turns over approximately every seven weeks. The setting team sets a new wall every Monday through Thursday. So if you’re working on a particular route, be sure to keep this timeline in mind and conquer it before it disappears for good!
Also, if you purchase single passes, all single visits include one class. You’ve a plethora of classes to choose from – Aerial, Bouldering 101, Climbfit, Cycle and Yoga.
GP81 (81 Quay Street)
When did GP81 first open and why in Greenpoint?
Clifford Simanski, founder and owner of GP81: We opened GP81 in January of 2018. We picked Greenpoint largely because we really like the neighborhood and the abundance of small local businesses. We found a great space that really fits our DIY warehouse vibe and that made the decision even easier.
What sets GP81 apart from the bigger climbing gyms in NYC?
We focus strictly on climbing and serving the local NYC community. We’ve been a part of the NYC climbing scene for over a decade and are proud to have designed and built GP81 entirely ourselves. Gyms are getting bigger, fancier, and more expensive so we wanted to reconnect with the simplicity of a ‘proper session’. We don’t do birthday parties and cater mostly to folks who have climbed before.
Are there any events at GP81 that locals can look forward to in the summer?
We’ve got several BBQs lined up so check our instagram for updates. Everyone is welcome and it’s hard to beat a cold beverage with some good company after a proper climbing session.
Terumi loves GP81 exactly for the reasons Cliff listed: “GP81 is my second home, my family, my little sanctuary in NYC that makes this city feel like a small town… of super psyched, rad, diverse people who love to climb. No rooftops, no shower, no bar. All vibes. GP81 is where it’s at.”
GP81 just had a mega upgrade to their retail area. On your next visit, be sure to go home with a merch that comes with custom sewn labels!
Whether you dig the big spacious vibe of VITAL Brooklyn, or crave the simplicity of a proper climb session at GP81, Greenpoint has all of that to offer. Most importantly, let’s all go onwards and upwards.