Eager to fulfill a need in the Hampton Roads area, Marisa Beck, her partner Matt Beck and their business associate Jason McKenzie decided to craft a space for creative problem-solving and full-body physical activity—Latitude Climbing and Fitness.
Their first location, in downtown Norfolk, sprang into existence within six and a half months of the idea’s inception, in 2018. A beautiful, urban historical building houses free climbing—bouldering—routes, a fitness center, a yoga studio, and locker rooms. Soon after, a secondary location was planted in a renovated mall space in Virginia Beach. It offers higher altitudes, top-rope climbing and regulation-height speed walls (like the Olympics), in addition to all the amenities offered at the Norfolk branch.
In an interview with Marisa Beck, she stated that she loves “providing multiple sports under one roof,” all of which complement and build upon one another. Recently, rock climbing has gained immense popularity, both by becoming an Olympic sport and from popular American television shows—this has rapidly grown the community. Beck revealed that, within the next few weeks, Latitude’s administration will announce their future third center in Hampton. It will mirror the Virginia Beach location, and hopefully open for business by the end of the year.
Rock climbing appears daunting, but it is not a sport limited to Olympians. The climber is in complete control, with the option to auto-belay or climb unassisted, safely, as they try to navigate the color-coordinated routes. Ms. Beck likes to remind customers that “you only have to go as high as you want” and that the rock-climbing community is welcoming and quick to offer helpful advice.
As challenging mentally as it is physically, climbing is like a puzzle that requires learning techniques and understanding patterns. The process easily disguises the full-body workout. A customer definitely does not have to learn to scale a mountain on their own as Latitude employs friendly staff and promotes group climbs. It’s a fantastic place to bring friends or partners and has even received recognition from MTV for being an excellent spot to meet potential partners.
Rowan Stuart, a freshman at Virginia Wesleyan and an avid climber, had only positives to say about Latitude, “I have been going to Latitude for the past few months on a fairly regular basis. When I first went, I had no idea what I was doing, but the staff were super friendly and helpful when learning how to climb.”
Having had experience working at the Batten Student Center, specifically with the rock wall, Stuart mentioned that “the variety Latitude offers in comparison is amazing. They also have bouldering which has been really thrilling—my personal favorite part is falling on the mats after. If you are looking for a fun place to go to pass the time or hang out with friends, Latitude is the place for you.”
If you want to give rock climbing a chance or engage in physical activity within a welcoming environment, Latitude can provide it all. All equipment for any activity at Latitude can be rented easily and waiver forms for patrons over eighteen (or under eighteen with parental consent) are made accessible as soon as you enter the space. While walk-in customers are expected and frequent, memberships do cut costs and allow for unlimited access to all amenities. If you are a college student, some discounts apply to the membership, as well as free account freezing during breaks. If rock climbing doesn’t intrigue you, all locations of Latitude offer concessions, yoga (Vinyasa flow) sessions, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) classes and other specific workout courses.
If you’d like to plan your visit, check out @latitudeclimbing on Instagram or search latitudeclimbing.com.
By Sasha Saxon