Its 3am, you have a late night hankering for technical slopers, a jug haul to burn off those three beef burritos you downed with extra jalapeños or you want to hone those tendons into steel cables on an adjustable campus board? Well guess what… most climbing gyms are not open at 3am. In fact there isn’t really anything open at 3am, but Vital is!
My story with Vital started on a recent California climbing gym recon trip. I was told by a friend and the man behind the construction of the walls at Vital, Louie Anderson that it was a must visit. I had left LA kind of late working my way south. The Murrieta location is sandwiched sort of between LA and San Diego which puts it in a nice niche spot to service climbers in that region or for those who love the 24/7 access model it offers. By the time I got there it was seriously late (around 11:30pm) so I didn’t have high hopes of meeting anyone there to get a chance to see inside. But to my amazement the lights were on and music was jamming so I knocked on the door.
I was greeted by the manager Luis Falero who is by the way a truly awesome guy, dedicated and very humble. He spent a great deal of time with me giving me the full bore tour. Side note: Luis is the owner of Signature Series Holds an upcoming and motivated holds company based in So-Cal.
The Murrieta location opened on July 30, 2011 and has a space of 3,600 sqft with wall space of just over 3000 sqft. It is owned by Nam Phan & Dave Sacher who are the masterminds behind this concept and business model. They currently have three locations at the time of this writing (Murrieta, Carlsbad & Bellingham). Luis told me these guys are not stopping and are continuing to grow the Vital program and brand with more locations slated for the future.
The gym is designed to have a welcoming and inviting layout. Its open format gives climbers a chance to see each other and reinforce that community aspect which some gyms lack because they segregate people apart too much, especially new climbers from the hard core guys, at Vital you are all together and in my view that is what makes it so special and communal.
Vital is packed with amenities, everything from a well stocked espresso machine, free-wifi, a retail selection, video games, widescreen projector TV with a host of climbing videos to raise your psyche up, a lounge space to relax and the best part aside from the 24/7 access… wait for it… the price is AMAZING! Having visited nearly every gym in California from top to bottom I can assure you the price is awesome.
Vital is ran by serious boulderes that make it a point to not only service customers but also educate them about more then just the indoor experience. They help you understand how to translate the “gym to crag” methodology and stewardship that many gyms tend to leave out or offer little exposure to. They believe in the idea of helping shape and guide the new generation of climbers who venture to the outdoors to pursue it correctly so that others can enjoy it in the future.
Luis Falero the awesome manager hanging from a cannonball training hold and the one arm pull up monster on the right is Christian Celestino who is the marketing manager of Vital and a super helpful and friendly staff member.
The routesetting is like many gyms a top priority. The staff at Vital believe that the routes are THE product and they listen to what members want and respond accordingly. Vital has also partnered with Signature Series Holds to help increase the inventory, keeping fresh and new holds flowing in. As a side note the Murrieta location has a really sweet adjustable Campus/Peg board that Louie helped them create during the construction. I have to say in the 80 plus gyms I have been in that thing blew my mind and was in my view one of the first I had ever seen like it. Very clean, no fluff just a great board but with the added function of being able to adjust its pitch.
So if you are a student who crushes the books and wants to sesh a few hours to burn off that new knowledge, perhaps you get up early and want to get a bit of climbing in before your work begins the 24/7 membership program is perfect for you. If you love a solid community of dedicated climbers who try hard and live for this sport then for sure check out Vital and if you roll into the Murrieta location ask for Luis and tell him I said hello. He might even brew you up a cup of espresso and give you the grand tour. Oh yeah and for those of you folks who have Vital in your backyard, you have something truly special going on there… SPECIAL!