Affectionately dubbed Eat Street, the swath of Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis' Whittier neighborhood is best known for its diverse cast of eateries. But a new occupant near the corner of 26th Street and Nicollet, behind the former home of Azia, has created a sanctum for calorie burning, not consuming.

In mid-November, St. Paul-based indoor climbing company Vertical Endeavors opened up shop along the foodie corridor, with 2,500 attendees at its grand opening. Since then the cavernous space has been bustling with climbers of all ages and experience levels.

We caught up with VE's director of instruction and outdoor guiding, Pat Mackin, to find out what three things newbies should know before facing the faux rock for the first time.

No. 1: No experience necessary. After a short orientation from VE staff, climbers can hit the walls -- which top out around 65 feet -- on their own thanks to a nifty piece of technology called auto belays. The auto belays enable users to safely scale the 28,000 square feet of wall space without a holder -- safety being the key. "Gravity never sleeps," Mackin cautions.

Secondly, it's all about the core, bro. Many a first-timer makes the mistake of relying too heavily on arm strength. A seasoned climber pulls with his or her whole body, working the core, legs and various muscle groups en route to wall domination.

Lastly, you don't need an "American Gladiators" physique to excel. "It's really a sport of finesse more than power," Mackin says, likening climbing to a vertical dance -- more of a seductive samba than a rhythm-spurning grind-a-thon, we're guessing.