Member Spotlight w/ Zach McArdle

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Zach McArdle

Member Spotlight

How long have you been a member at Rock Out and when did you begin climbing?

I had no prior experience in rock climbing before becoming a member at Rock Out in August 2017 but have always had an interest in doing it (too bad it wasn't here 15 years ago)

What is your favorite thing about your climbing community?

I enjoy the inclusiveness that comes from everyone sharing a common goal. Even though we all climb at different levels it's always great to see people cheering for someone who is trying their hardest at their climb. 

What is the biggest climbing challenge you’ve had to overcome?

Recognizing that my body doesn't recover like it used to and figuring out how to push it enough to see progress but avoid injury at the same time. 

What would you say to someone who is thinking about joining Rock Out?

For them to at least come and try it out with a day pass. It is a fun way to get a workout in while also using your brain to solve the problem you are climbing. As someone who practically collects hobbies this is one of the more affordable ones and it's nice that it's not weather dependent with it being indoors. 




Photo by: Summer Allen

Photo by: Summer Allen

How long have you been a member at Rock Out and when did you begin climbing?

1) We joined Rock Out in January of 2018, shortly after we moved to Destin. It quickly became a highlight of our new home! Before then, we had both been climbing very sporadically since around 2010. 

What is your favorite thing about your climbing community?

2) We both love the friendly and family-oriented atmosphere. We've made a lot of friends at Rock Out, and we find there's so much mutual encouragement between us and the other members. We have also loved that Rock Out has been so welcoming to our daughter. We have been through many stages of bringing her in a car seat, stroller, and setting up a pack-n-play. Now, at 18 months, Maren loves hanging out with all her Rock Out friends and sending a few routes herself. 

What is the biggest climbing challenge you’ve had to overcome?

3) Ethan: My biggest challenge has been staying consistent enough to keep building my skills. I find that when we don't make it to the gym for a few days it takes extra work to get back to where I was. 

 Lindsay: I fell in a weird way last spring and injured my arm. I healed pretty quickly, but I still fight a bit of a mental barrier when I'm struggling at the top of a route. 

We've both improved significantly since we started climbing at Rock Out though. Despite these challenges, we're both able to climb routes 2 or more ratings higher than when we started!

What would you say to someone who is thinking about joining Rock Out?

4) Go for it! Especially if you're lacking in climbing experience, this is the perfect place to learn. You will also love the community! Our Rock Out family has been has been extremely helpful and encouraging to us. We love you guys! 

Build a High Performance Team

Finding fun and creative ways to team build is a crucial part of any successful company team. Team building helps with bonding, morale, and can improve overall job performance. Rock climbing is a great tool for company team building - it’s adventurous, encourages rapport, and requires creative problem solving. Below is a list of why your company should plan your next team building at Rock Out Climbing Gym.

Fosters a Good Support System and Communication


Rock climbing requires team members to rely on each other for help while solving problems through body movement the course. This can help create kinship and trust among employees. It also helps the team learn how to effectively communicate with each other as they problem solve. Co-workers will work towards a unified goal and accomplish challenges together during this these activities.

Strengthen Problem Solving Skills


Getting up a route course is no easy task (they’re called problems for a reason). Climbers must skillfully navigate the terrain in order to reach the top. Your team will learn invaluable problem solving skills here as they work their way through the activities course.

Helps Find Creative Solutions

Since the courses challenges are difficult, team members will be encouraged to thinking creatively in order to find solutions. This creative thought process will translate into their jobs. Environments where people are forced to access the creative parts of their brain allows them to come up with creative solutions easier in everyday life.

Improve Morale

Since rock climbing is naturally super fun, this activity will help boost morale. Teammates will exercise together, fall together, and laugh together.  Most importantly, they will succeed and fail together. The teamwork combined with adventurous climbing is a sure way to bring morale to an all-time high.

Individually Tailored


No two teams are the same, and Rock Out Climbing Gym handles each team building activity differently based on the needs and make-up of the team.  The team lead will be presented with a survey before the event and Rock Out Climbing Gym will determine the type and number of exercises to meet the team goals and facilitate learning.  Rock Out Climbing Gym almost always creates new exercises specifically tailored to a scenario the team may face during normal work activity to ensure transference of learning.   


Rock Out Climbing Gym is an indoor bouldering gym with levels from beginner to pro. All skill levels can enjoy bouldering here, which makes it the perfect place to bring a company team for team building! 

Each team building session includes a pre-brief, execution of all modules, and a debrief all led by Rock Out Climbing Gym instructors.  Additionally, the Rock Out Climbing Gym conference room is available for use after the event has concluded for a team specific debrief. 


Kenneth Sheyka – Owner

Climbing Wall Instructor, National Outdoor Leadership School Outdoor Educator, Leave No Trace Master Instructor, Air Force Flying Instructor with over 2,000 hours of instruction and 10+ years of instruction.

Joshua Appleman – Manager, lead Climbing Instructor

 17 years climbing, 10+ years of climbing instruction, route setting, and coaching. Head route setter, head coach, manager. 

All Your "Thanksending" Questions Answered

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What is USA Climbing?

The morning portion of our Thanksending comp is part of a USA Climbing sanctioned event. USA Climbing is the national governing body of the sport of competition climbing in the United States. As a 5013 non-profit, they promote three competition disciplines; bouldering, sport climbing, and speed.

Who can enter the Thanksending Comp?

Anyone not eligible for the USA Climbing sanctioned competition categories (17 yrs. old and above). All levels of skill and proficiency are welcome and competitions are usually great social venues for meeting new people and learning from others.

What happens at a climbing competition? It’s my first.

Registration is required either prior to the event (usually discounted) or day of. Once you check in, you will receive a score card or be given the web address of the digital scoring platform. You will get the scoring breakdown and the distribution of point values as well as the rules. Early arrival is encouraged for route preview to get the lay of the land. Climbing shoes are required, and we not only sell snacks and drinks, but also usually have a food truck selling coffee and killer eats.

OK.. So, how do I WIN?!

We run a redpoint classic format for our competition. This means that each problem has an assigned point value, and you have to send the route all the way to the finish to get the points. Our judging staff will watch you climb and log your scores. You can attempt the problem as many times as you want, just track how many times you fall (for tie breakers). A running tally of your points will be scrolling on the TV racked and stacked with the other competitors. At the end of the competition, your top five scored problems will be used for your total point value and the winners will be designated using those point values.

Which category should I enter?

Our categories are broken down using a range of difficulty levels and are as follows for both Men and Women separately:

Beginner (V0-V2)

Intermediate (V3-V5)

Advanced (V6+)

When signing up, realize that if you perform well above the category you selected, you will be bumped up to the next category based on point value (this prevents sandbagging). You will not; however, be bumped down if you perform poorly in the category you enrolled in.

I’m new and I just watch since I’m not that experienced.

There is nothing like a competition to feel the surge of adrenaline and drive you past your perceived limits. You never know who will sign up or get bumped out of the category, so just giving it a shot is worth it.

Are there cash and prizes for winners?

All of our winners (first, second, and third) in each category will receive cash or gift cards to Rock Out. Additional swag will be awarded to winners of different categories.

We also hold a raffle with a ton of great products from both local and national contributors to our event. Think: Crash Pad, Climbing Shoes, Approach Shoes, etc…

I’m still not sold on competing, I just wanna watch.

If you’re nursing an injury and can’t climb, or for whatever reason do not feel up to the competition, don’t worry. Spectators are FREE for our event, we just ask that you have a waiver on file. Additionally, we will have food and beverages for sale and donation. Cheering is encouraged, but please do not shout beta to people while they are climbing.

When can I climb if I’m not in the competition?

Our gym will be open for regular climbing after the competition, awards, and raffle have concluded. We will have half price day passes for after the comp, and all competitors are welcome to stay and keep working projects.

The Benefits of Climbing for Children

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Children are natural climbers. Their curiosity draws them to climbing as it allows them to satisfy their thrill seeking, adventurous, problem solving minds. At Rock Out Climbing Gym, you will find a program designated for younger climbers, including routes designed with their size and strength in mind using top ropes to help overcome their challenges with height. Though most people might not think of climbing as a go-to activity for children, climbing has many advantages for children’s mental and physical development. The question becomes less of why should your children climb, but why shouldn’t they?


  1. Climbing helps with children’s mental and physical development

According to, a study from PlayCore “found evidence that climbing at a young age helps hone spatial and directional awareness, and also boosts physical skills such as balance, hand and foot coordination, and agility.” A 2015 study from University of North Florida’s psychologists found that “proprioceptively dynamic activities like climbing” can greatly improve core cognitive functions such as memory.

Dealing with various platform and inclines has been shown to help children with the ability to sense one’s own body position and movement.


2. Climbing has been shown to improve academic performance

A 2008 study observed the physical education (P.E.) department at a junior high school in Naperville, Illinois. They redesigned their gym curriculum to focus more on climbing. Immediately they began to see the results, with major academic improvement throughout the school. This was credited to the student’s enhancement in mood, focus, and memory. This is not the only school that has found climbing to help curriculum. A western Pennsylvania school saw their standardized tests go from below average to 18 percent above after integrating climbing into their P.E. curriculum.

Even if your child isn’t enrolled in school yet, it is never too young to find activities that help improve your child’s mental development.


3. Climbing helps children learn problem solving skills

Climbing is an intensive problem-solving sport. Climbers must analyze each route and find the most efficient method to reach the top (routes are called “problems” for a reason). The same part of your brain that is used for puzzles is activated when climbing.

Climbing at an early age encourages planning, goal-setting, and creativity. Children also learn how to quickly adapt to new environments.


4. Climbing is a Social Activity

Although the child is the only one climbing on the wall, they are rarely alone in their efforts. Instructors, peers and parents play a large role in developing a child’s climbing ability. Children are often the first to encourage others while climbing and benefit greatly from the supportive environment most climbing gyms offer. Learning to fall and get back up is better when there is a social support network in place.


Clearly children's innate attraction to climbing goes beyond solely excitement and adventure. Climbing is greatly helpful in cognitive and physical development. Luckily, at Rock Out, we not only have specific routes set for younger children, but a “Kinder Klimb” program as well. Check out more information here. (insert link to Kinder Klimb program)


Collegiate Climbing


Climbing is a great alternative to traditional sports in college. It’s adrenaline-fueled and interactive- the perfect sport for many college students. Not many schools offer scholarships for climbing, but if you’re thinking of taking climbing to the collegiate level, there are many colleges that offer competitive teams and first class climbing gyms.

  • There are tons of colleges in the Pacific Northwest with competitive teams that travel around the PNW. University of Washington, U of Oregon, and U of Idaho all have walls and teams.

  • Colorado University in Boulder obviously has great climbing culture due to the location. Boulder has a great community of climbers and the campus has no shortage of gyms and walls. “The Rec” features 7,000 square feet of toprope, lead, and bouldering. In addition, CU Boulder offers classes on rock climbing.

  • University of Arkansas’ climbing gym boasts bouldering, toproping, lead climbing, and two autobelays for solo sessions. They offer classes and have a multitude of events including blacklight bouldering and ladies night.

  • University of Alaska Fairbanks features an Ice Wall for climbers adventurous enough to tackle climbing the outdoor ice tower.

  • Stanford boasts two high end climbing gyms on campus and more square footage of climbing gym than any other college in the country. The gyms are also home to the Stanford Climbing Gym which took third place in the 2017 USA National Climbing Championships.

  • Cornell, Dartmouth, and the University of North Texas all also feature high end climbing gyms with various options for any climbing experience.

  • Although no schools offer scholarships for climbing, USA Climbing is awarding $3,000 in scholarships to climbers chosen by the panel of individuals active in the Collegiate Climbing Community. Check out more information on the scholarship here.

If you decide to take climbing to the collegiate level there are tons of options. While these colleges are known for their climbing gyms, many large universities include a climbing or bouldering wall in their gyms. Climbing is a sport that can be done all throughout one’s life and college is the perfect time to embark or continue your journey.