The Rock Climbing Wall That Never Ends

The treadwall offers all of the workout that comes with rock climbing with none of the pesky plummeting from great heights.


If you’re the type of person who hates the treadmill, maybe you’ve just been moving in the wrong direction. Next time, perhaps, you should try going vertical instead of horizontal. Method Fitness provides just such an option at its new(ish) home in Richmond Square.

This boutique personal training studio consolidated its operations about a year ago, combining its original studio on the West Side and smaller satellite space on South Main Street into a new, larger space in Richmond Square. With the increase in size, Method had the opportunity to add some new equipment – namely, the Treadwall.

“I booked you a session on a moving rock wall at Method Fitness,” my editor informed me when assigning this story, adding, “At this point you can safely assume I’m trying to get you killed.” Method Fitness founder/proprietor Amahl Harik doubled down on the threats to life and limb: “We could go with a half-hour or full-hour workout – whichever you prefer. I would mention that an hour on the Treadwall will kill you dead (it would me, anyways).”

This upright beast of an apparatus is indeed imposing to behold. It’s basically a ten-foot tall treadmill for climbing: one side features ladder rungs, and the other is studded with the foot and handholds of a rock climbing wall. It became slightly less menacing when I learned that it was people-powered, not machine-driven. Your own body weight is what moves the Treadwall down as you climb, and the adjustable brake allows for varying levels of resistance, and thus, faster or slower speeds. Fortunately for me, my trainer Adam Clark was not quite so apocalyptic in his presentation of the machine and its benefits. He explained that I would not be spending a fatal hour, or even half-hour, attempting to summit it. Instead, he would incorporate it as just one part of varied circuit training session. We all have to confront our own mortality eventually, but Adam wasn’t planning on bringing me face-to-face with mine.

We began with some quick warm-ups (jumping jacks, split jacks, mountain climbers, etc.) to get the blood flowing. The actual workout started simply enough by stepping outside for a 200-meter sprint. After that it was back inside and straight up the Treadwall. Adam started me on the easier side with the rungs. Instead of imposing, it was actually invigorating and – dare I say it? – kind of fun. It wasn’t nearly as strenuous as the build-up had led me to believe; the most challenging part proved to be figuring out where to put my feet as the pattern of the rungs changed. (Coordination is one of my weaknesses.)

With my heart rate now pumping, it was time to descend back earthward for some lunges. This transitioned immediately over to the heavy ropes. With feet planted and knees bent, I had to repeatedly lift the ropes and slam them down as hard as humanly possible. Contrary to the Treadwall hype, this proved to be the most strenuous part of the workout.

Next up was a quick bit of TRX Suspension Training. Gripping the straps suspended from an overhead base, I leaned back with my body flat at a roughly 45 degree angle to the floor and repeatedly pulled myself up in a rowing motion. Then it was over to a bench from some traditional dumbbell work, pushing out incline chest presses.

That was the end of the line... sort of. With no rest for the weary, we headed right back outside for another sprint, beginning the circuit anew for the second of three times. The first time through felt like a solid enough workout, but the minimal sweat I had worked up left me wondering when this was going to get tough. That notion was dispelled after the second round on the Treadwall, when, as if a switch had flipped, I suddenly found myself pouring sweat. By the third time through the circuit I could feel fatigue setting in and I was really working for some of those reps.

Even that, however, was not the end. After the full-body circuit, we launched into a quick core workout that again found me scaling the Treadwall, then diving into a series of leg lifts, leg flutters, static leg raises and planks with side kicks. Three times through that circuit and Adam finally decided I had done enough.

Just for fun, I decided to try out the rock climbing side of the Treadwall. This was a different beast entirely; it was a test of navigation as much as physical strength, putting both body and mind to work in tandem. Adam explained that some of the experienced rock climbers among Method’s client base would take it to the next level, executing turnabouts and twists while scrambling up the wall. I opted not to attempt anything quite so daring – after all, I had made it this far without getting myself killed.

Method Fitness
1 Richmond Square