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Photo: Dina Rudick/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Elite athletes like Alex Honnold and popular films like "Free Solo," which chronicles his ropeless ascent of El Capitan, have brought increased exposure to rock climbing — and come August, the sport will make its Olympics debut.

The big picture: While climbing continues to mature as a competitive sport, it's also gaining popularity among young urbanites, who appreciate the workout.

  • "Young professionals flock to [climbing gyms] after work because the exercise is intense, unstructured and sociable," writes NYT's Kate Dwyer.
  • "These gyms may be one of the last urban locales where talking to strangers is encouraged."

What they're saying: Three-time U.S. National Champion climber Sasha DiGiulian, 27, believes the climbing industry is expanding in tandem with the boutique fitness world (Barry's, SoulCycle, etc).

"They're opening these boutique studios that are dedicated to optimizing your fitness in order to 'train for your next adventure,' is their slogan. They're not even the traditional sense of climbing, it's climbing broken down into a fitness class. That definitely didn't exist even five years ago."
— Three-time U.S. National Champion climber Sasha DiGiulian, per NYT

The other side: Celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak doesn't think rock climbing provides a good enough workout to rival popular fitness classes.

  • "Most of the muscles that people really need to strength-train — hamstrings, glutes, lower back, rhomboids, triceps — are not really worked during rock climbing," he told the Times.

Go deeper: Hurling comes to America

Go deeper

Updated 21 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Inauguration Day dashboard

U.S. Capitol and stage are lit at sunrise ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden. Photo: Patrick Semansky - Pool/Getty Images

President Biden has delivered his inaugural address at the Capitol, calling for an end to the politics as total war but warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country.

What's next: Biden has arrived at the White House and he will sign executive orders and other presidential actions.

49 mins ago - Podcasts

Podcast: After the Biden inaugural

Joe Biden was sworn in today as America's 46th president in an inauguration unlike any other in modern history.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper into the speech, the atmosphere and what it all tells us about the incoming administration, with Axios political reporters Hans Nichols and Alexi McCammond.

Biden embarks on a consequential presidency

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump tried everything to delegitimize the rival who vanquished him. In reality, he's set Joe Biden on course to be a far more consequential U.S. president than he might otherwise have become.

The big picture: President Biden now confronts not just a pandemic, but massive political divisions and an assault on truth — and the aftermath of the assault on the Capitol two weeks ago that threatened democracy itself.