Dyno Detroit, the city’s first indoor gym dedicated to climbing, celebrated its one-year anniversary on April 1 with a 250-person bash. For four hours, gym members and their guests munched on food from Rocky’s Vegan Tacos, sipped beer provided by Eastern Market Brewery and grooved to selected beats played by a local DJ.
In the midst of the celebration, partygoers witnessed two competitions on Dyno’s gray and purple rock climbing walls. The first challenged participants to climb designated routes while wearing oven mitts.
Next, the gym hosted a bouldering competition with a slight twist. To complete each route, participants had to pull off dynamic moves, releasing from the wall as they launched themselves from one hold to the next. The further the competition progressed, the bigger the jumps became.
“It honestly felt like we were part climbing gym, part Club Dyno Detroit,” said Dino Ruggeri, the gym’s founder. “There was even a dance party at the end. The party ended at 11 p.m., but we could have easily kept that thing going until late at night. It was electric, feel-good entertainment, and you could tell everyone was truly enjoying themselves.”
Located in Eastern Market at 3500 Orleans Street, Dyno sits at the north end of the Dequindre Cut. The 18,400-square-foot facility offers several climbing disciplines.
A significant portion of the gym is dedicated to bouldering, where members climb on walls 12 to 15 feet tall without a rope.
At the far end of the gym, there’s another section of climbing walls that vary in height between 30 and 45 feet. For obvious reasons, a rope and harness are required to climb these.
Dyno offers three roped-climbing methods: top rope, lead climbing and auto-belay. Climbers need a partner to belay them for the first two methods. An auto-belay is a machine solo climbers can clip into that safely lowers them to the ground if they fall or complete a route.
“Essentially, we use all forms of climbing to appeal to climbers of all ages, skill levels and strengths,” Ruggeri said. “You can be five years old or 85 years old, regardless of skill level or fitness and we have a climbing option for you.”
In Dyno’s lofted area, there’s a yoga studio, as well as a workout space with exercise equipment, squat racks, pullup bars and dumbbells.
Despite the sport’s rising popularity, climbing is still a niche sport, especially in states like Michigan, which lacks mountainous terrain.
So Dyno is still introducing new many new members to climbing. For a sport that often appears daunting a first, new climbers often undergo a shift in perspective.
“We often hear ‘I don’t have any upper body strength” or “I need to lose a few pounds before trying this’ or ‘I’m too old to do that,’” Ruggeri said. “I delight in reassuring people that none of these things are necessary to have a valuable experience — once, or regularly — at our gym.
“In fact, I have found that these initial concerns are followed up by ‘I did better than I thought I would,’ or ‘That was more fun than I thought I’d have!’”
To ensure everyone is climbing in a safe manner, supervisors also walk the gym at all times.
All first-time gymgoers, regardless of experience, must go through a climbing orientation. Climbers interested in top rope and lead climbing are tested before receiving a belay tag.
Another challenge Ruggeri and his staff are actively working to overcome is the sport’s exclusive reputation. Historically, the sport has predominately consisted of climbers who are white, upper-middle-class men.
Dyno’s mission is to cultivate a community of climbers that’s inviting and open to everyone, no matter their race, gender or sexual orientation. Each month, the gym hosts a meetup for climbers of color, women and those who identify as LGBTQ+.
“At the end of the day, climbing is for everyone, and we will stand by that statement as long as our doors are open,” Ruggeri said. “We envision an unconditionally diverse, equitable and inclusive community where indoor climbing is used as a means to feeling like your best self.”