New climbing facility will have visitors pay what they can afford

New climbing facility will have visitors pay what they can afford

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis Rox is a name that holds true in more ways than one.

This new facility is more than just rock climbing because of the way it's incorporating inclusion and the special timing of its opening.

"Most rock climbing gyms are very expensive, we're going to be affordable," Chris Dean, Memphis Rox Director of Community Outreach, said.

Located in the heart of Soulsville, Memphis Rox Climbing and Community is a new 30,000 square foot fitness center on McLemore Avenue.

Built on a pay-what-you-can-afford model, the nonprofit climbing facility will exclude no one---regardless of ability to pay.

"Volunteer five hours a month and you have full membership," Dean said. "What's more affordable than that? We're not asking for your money, we're asking for your time, we're asking for your energy."

The gym includes space for yoga, mentor and youth programs, and a juice bar.

The facility will open its doors for a ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 3, a date that marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin King Jr.'s Mountaintop Speech, which happened just blocks away from the gym.

"We want to walk in those steps, we want to keep the dream alive and it is, we're living it," Dean said.

Dean grew up in Memphis and knows the importance of offering activities and opportunities to families in underserved communities.

"When you're up there on the wall, it's hard to think about life and what's going on in the outside world, when you're up on that wall you're only thinking about the next step," Dean said.

Director of Operations Jon Hawk has been in the climbing industry for more than a decade and said he moved to Memphis solely for this project.

"The benefits that you get from rock climbing, I think are better than any other sport," Hawk said.

Dean said Memphis Rox is Phase One of a larger vision to break down barriers.

"This is Soulsville, you're going to get more than you give here, trust me," Dean said.

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