Sunday, March 03, 2024

EXERCISE EXPLORER, MD: Indoor climbing

by DR. GEOFF EMRY/Exercise Explorer MD
| December 7, 2023 1:00 AM

In keeping with my premise that exercise is better with a buddy, I recently joined Aaron Drapeau after work at Coeur Climbing Company in Post Falls. Aaron is a nurse practitioner and one of our newer providers at Ironwood Family Practice, so it was a great chance for me to get to know him better and try out our area's newest climbing gym.  

Aaron grew up right here in North Idaho and started climbing in college in the Rec Center at the University of Idaho.  When he moved home after graduating he started climbing outdoors at Q'emiln Park with a group of friends and even introduced his brother to the sport and joined a climbing club. However, as life got busy with work and family (he and his wife Jasmine have three daughters ages 6, 4 and 2), he took a break from climbing and admitted that he hasn’t gone in a few years. But now that his daughters are getting old enough, he’d love to introduce them to the sport and he even bought them a climbing harness. 

After arriving at Coeur Climbing Company, which is tucked behind the outlet malls in Post Falls, and changing into shorts and climbing shoes, we met Dan Shaw, one of the owners, to take a tour and try it out. The gym is bright and spacious with over 6,000 square feet of climbing surfaces including 24-foot-high roped walls and bouldering walls up to 15 feet high. The colorful routes are clearly marked by degree of difficulty and changed often so that climbing regulars will not get bored. In fact, cleaning the holds and route setting is a full-time job for the dedicated staff. For advanced climbers, there’s a Moon Board which connects with your phone to light up different patterns and has over 20,000 different routes!

The most striking thing about the gym, however, is the welcoming and family-friendly atmosphere. In fact, when Aaron and I first arrived, Dan was just finishing with the Coeur Kids team for ages 7-12, and they also have a Coeur Youth team for ages 12-18, which meets for two hours per week on Mondays for 12-week sessions. They even have a designated kids area as well as a fitness area with cardio and weights and a yoga studio. Dan has a passion for encouraging and teaching young people which harkens back to being a middle school teacher and then building a climbing gym in the crawl space of his house where his church’s youth group would hang out.

Once we clipped into the auto belay devices and started climbing, Aaron and I quickly realized what a humbling sport rock climbing can be. Even the easiest routes were plenty challenging and our muscles fatigued quickly. But even though there were some serious climbers scaling the walls around us, everyone was very encouraging and cheered us on. We both had a great time and the next day Aaron let me know that although his forearms were “beat up” he wanted to come back again and bring his family too.  

THE GOOD: Super family friendly — they even host kids’ climbing birthday parties. The retail area can rent everything you need (shoes, harnesses, belay devices) and they sell chalk, chalk bags and other merch. The staff are kind and supportive and happy to provide instruction (even for beginners like me!).

THE BAD: Even the cost structure is family friendly with reduced rates for each additional household member (starting at $70 per month). There's also  a weekly membership option for $22 or you can just drop-in for $18/day.  And members get free yoga classes! 

THE NITTY GRITTY: If your family is climbing the walls looking for something to do over the winter break (or driving you up the wall), why not come climb the walls at Coeur Climbing Company?

Dr. Emry is a family physician and partner at Ironwood Family Practice in Coeur d’Alene. Exercise Explorer MD will appear every other week in The Press and Dr. Emry can be contacted via email © 2023. This work is licensed under a CC BY-ND 4.0 license.

    Dr. Geoff Emry