Dec 4, 2019

Rock climbing is having a moment

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

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Fitness streaming company iFit raises $200 million

Models wear iFit monitors in 2016. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

iFit, an interactive fitness streaming platform owned by the parent company of NordicTrack, raised $200 million led by Pamplona Capital Management.

Why it matters: This reflects how home fitness companies and their investors keep moving toward the Peloton model, minus the highly-questionable ad strategy.

Go deeperArrowDec 11, 2019

Saving America's abandoned malls

A deserted mall in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

America is dotted with ghostly, long-abandoned carcasses of malls — massive structures that were once bustling shopping centers but were forced to close down after seeing dismal foot traffic.

The state of play: Many of these malls have been repurposed. Some have been retrofitted into community centers or water treatment plants. Others have been turned into big warehouses to serve e-commerce companies (that one's a little on the nose).

Go deeperArrowNov 29, 2019

There's an app for that: Tech tracks pets' health and well-being

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Just as humans use technology to connect with one another, they're now using machines to interact with their pets, too.

The big picture: Apps and devices are now offering pet owners a more intimate look at their animals' well-being, from veterinary care to fitness.

Go deeperArrowNov 17, 2019