Workout Wednesday: Volcanic Climbing and Fitness on Punahou

Mention Lei Chic for a free pass.


The path to fitness can sometimes be rocky, especially when you’re faced with the prospect of an hour working a humdrum elliptical or mind-numbing weight machine. We headed over to the new Volcanic Climbing and Fitness to break the mold and try our hands at bouldering (rock climbing without the ropes or harnesses) on the gym’s climbing wall, which includes routes going straight up to slightly angled to basically horizontal, for experts.


By the end of a couple of hours, we felt like we had played more than worked. Our muscles, however, disagreed.


In other words, it was pretty off the wall.


Mention Lei Chic at the front desk and get a free 10-day pass! Offer expires July 31.


What it is:


Volcanic Rock Gyms, created by and for rock-climbing and bouldering enthusiasts, have been around for a few years (there’s one on the Windward Side). What makes the Punahou location unique—other than the fact that it’s so close to our home, work and play turfs!—is that it’s more than just a rock-climbing wall.


Housed in the old Punahou Spa space on the corner of King and Punahou streets, this intimate, newly renovated facility includes everything from your requisite shower room, weight machines, treadmills and ellipticals, to a small yoga studio, saltwater pool, ice plunge, sauna, hot tub and, of course, bouldering wall.


Our initial reaction:


From the ground: “Get to that point? No prob.”
From the wall: “They want me to step up to that? Who do they think I am, Mr. Fantastic?”


Sweat meter:


This is true for most of our fitness adventures, but it’s especially true here: It’s what you put into it. That also means that if you’re anything like us, during your first visit, you won’t sweat quite as much as you’d like. That’s due to your underused muscles (we felt it in our arms, back and hands the most) starting to feel the burn and needing a rest. But we enjoyed watching other climbers conquer a crazy route, mapping out our plan up the wall or just resting in between sets. The hardest part will be trying to resist snagging an acai bowl from the gym’s Arch Café every time you’re taking a break.




You’ll love the full-service gym. Buying a membership is way less intimidating for climbing newbies hesitant about spending a lot for a bouldering facility in addition to their regular gym costs. With this package, it’s all rolled into one.


It’s more than just a workout—it’s a hobby. Maybe that’s why everyone at the gym is so friendly and encouraging. In fact, everyone seems to know everyone here, and you’ll find the social aspect to be a real plus. More experienced climbers will be quick to cheer you on or show you the ropes on a route when you’re feeling stuck, or give you some technique tips that will get you to the top more efficiently.


More experienced climbers have told us that it’s definitely a better workout than rock-climbing outside, thanks to the clear, pre-set routes that you can tackle over and over, and the lack of belays (or rock-climbing ropes) needed, which means less fuss each time. (But don’t worry! The ultra-springy floor and cushions make for a safe experience.)


You’ll be surprised at how relatable some of the climbing skills are. In fact, a lot of yoga principles pertain to climbing as well, including hip-opening, breathing and stretching. The bottom line is, you’ll be able to communicate better with your body the more you climb.


Trust us: It gets easier. The first time you do a route it may seem impossible, but once you push yourself to that next hold you’ll wonder why it took you so long to get there. Listen closely to the seasoned climbers. They have tips for how to hold your body, push off or even just think about a route that will make your climbing decisions much smarter.


1212 Punahou St., For membership pricing, call 949-0001.