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World's Largest Indoor Climbing Company Creates a Community for Avid Climbers

By Courtney Clark

For more than two decades, Touchstone Climbing has been providing fun and exercise to Californians. Consisting of eleven facilities, Touchstone began in San Francisco with the intent of bringing new and existing rock climbers together. With ever-changing walls, Touchstone's fitness center always offers something new while providing a full-body workout.

Mark and Debra Melvin started what would become Touchstone Climbing in 1995 with Mission Cliffs in San Francisco. The duo has more than 35 years of experience in rock climbing, and they are still active, having climbed walls in Yosemite, waterfall ice walls in Canada, and snow walls in the Alps. Although more locations of Touchstone Climbing were opened throughout California, the Melvins kept up their original location and even expanded the San Francisco facility.

According to Heather Bellgreen, "Touchstone is run by climbers, and every staff member is knowledgeable and love the communities they are a part of." The gyms have a full-time professional crew that changes the routes each week so guests always have something new. Touchstone also owns Stone Age Climbing Holds, a company that creates rock climbing hand and foot holds. The partnership ensures guests will always have something new to see and experience.

Besides a fun activity, rock climbing is also an excellent way to stay or get fit. Bellgreen says it is "a full-body sport with a variety of possible movements, from a more methodical, balanced style or steep and powerful moves." Climbers will notice improved coordination from the all-over workout that uses small and large muscle groups. If the walls themselves are not enough of a challenge or a workout, guests can also try fitness classes like TRX, cardio boxing, cycling, or yoga to get stronger, build endurance, or recover and relax. Further, Touchstone works out the brain: Bellgreen explains rock climbing can help overcome fear, improve problem-solving, and assist in team-building.

As mentioned, Touchstone is community-centered and proves it with community outreach. In addition to helping individuals destress and build confidence, the fitness center also occasionally hosts fundraisers for local organizations and schools. Further, Touchstone offers group events to the community for kids and adults.

Touchstone Climbing has been bringing local communities together through fun fitness for more than twenty years. Whether a guest is new to rock climbing or has been scaling walls for decades, the gym has something for everyone. San Francisco residents owe it to themselves to stop by and rock on.

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