Unlike most climbing gyms we've been in, Focus mainly is about bouldering. Housed in an industrial building in Mesa just east of the Tempe border on Broadway Road, it has several walls with ropes for belaying climbers and a few auto-belayers that allow a solo climber to ascend the 30-foot routes. But once you pass through the lobby after signing in (and paying $22 for a day pass and rental of harness and rock shoes), the first thing you'll notice in the main room is the impressive, 120-foot-long-by-18-foot-high inverted bouldering wall. The wall imparts on climbers a steady buzz of fear because they aren't roped in.
On our first time, we had to be trained on how to fall properly on the special ultra-cushiony floor surface. They made us hop backward off the wall and land on the mat with our butt, back, and head, arms folded over our chest. It all seemed reasonable until we were actually climbing on the inverted wall, all our weight hanging on our fingertips. Our first fall didn't look as pretty as in practice. But we didn't get hurt, either — the bouncy mat really works. Like other gyms, colored tape is used to designate specific routes up the wall, so you can judge when you're improving. Fortunately, the gym gives discounts for monthly and yearly memberships. With this sport, practice makes badass.