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Trad climber
the green triangle, cali
Oct 13, 2012 - 02:28pm PT
when mass cross posting at least change the name of target audience. this would be supertopo, not mp.

on a constructive note, things that are sometimes hard to train for indoors and would be awesome to have more of in gyms... cracks!

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Oct 13, 2012 - 03:22pm PT
Cracks for sure look at the planet granite gyms ESP sf and sunny ale, also the momentum gym in SLC (especially the 5.12 ow lead) these three have done it right in different ways.

Offwidth roof cracks 12-20' long are the rage in a bunch of the newer climber fitness gyms. Don't build a gym without one!

Trad climber
Toshi's Station, picking up power converters.
Oct 13, 2012 - 03:29pm PT
Off finger flares created in real rock, polished to gleaming and paint on some blood for effect.
beef supreme

the west
Oct 13, 2012 - 03:33pm PT
I'm with locker on this one. Hot ass strippers and a full bar on top of the 'bouldering cave'... gotta pull that orange taped V1 warm up problem for a cold one up top.... would be a great way to run 'laps'
hell, between the bar and the strippers... you'll do just fine!

maybe you can put the strippers in cages on top of pinnacles! then you can hone your pinnacle skills and stuff that $5 bill into the 'crack' on top!

Technically expert, safe belayer, can lead if easy
Oct 13, 2012 - 03:55pm PT
"Hey SuperTopo Members,

My name Carlo Cherisier and I'm new to the Mountain Project Forum."

We're off to a great start!
Josh Nash

Social climber
riverbank ca
Oct 13, 2012 - 03:59pm PT
Save a ton of money on belay devices and teach munter hitches and hip belays.

Technically expert, safe belayer, can lead if easy
Oct 13, 2012 - 04:02pm PT
If you buy enough bouldering pads, you won't even need those pesky ropes and clippy things.

Trad climber
Oct 13, 2012 - 04:17pm PT
Off-width, for some ;-)

photo not found
Missing photo ID#267842
beef supreme

the west
Oct 13, 2012 - 04:24pm PT
that offwidth looks pretty wide... and potentially wet. I'd be afraid of falling out, protection or not....

Smog Angeles
Oct 13, 2012 - 08:45pm PT
First off, good luck to you.
Good luck on getting a straight answer on this forum but, at the risk of the usual flaming, I'll bite and give my 2 cents.

I live in the San Fernando Valley and climb indoors a lot, so I represent your target customer base.

32 feet is short.
It's Rockreation short, so you're not improving much on the pathetic other options in Los Angeles County. Boulderdash in Thousand Oaks is taller and represents more of what should be available in such a large metro area. If you hope to draw away the generally-disgruntled yet loyal Rockreation fan base, you should go for the tallest option your pocketbook will allow. Ideally you will separate bouldering from roped climbing and top-ropes from lead climbing. Some gyms overlap top-roping and leads and that can cause conflict. Hopefully you can isolate your beginner terrain away from the steeper stuff. This will keep the youth birthday parties and first-timers out of the way of the more experienced.

Your members will be kept satisfied only if the terrain is challenging and you keep refreshing your routes. You will need a qualified head route-setter and probably a few dedicated individuals that like to set. For the head setter, you should expect to pay some sort of salary to keep that person interested. For the additional setters, you have to either pay them or offer free memberships in exchange for setting services. The head setter position is usually a revolving door because it's hard to find a dedicated soul to put that much effort into quality routes for not much pay. This is probably the area that mediocre climbing gyms overlook the most. If you want your paying members to be happy and spread the word to the climbing peer group, the routes have to be updated and changed frequently or the gym is boring. Also, routes that stay up too long become caked with chalk and the holds need to come down and get washed periodically. Vertical Relief in Flagstaff originally offered their employees a small percentage of the business' profits. This seemed to be a nice incentive to keep them truly dedicated to the place.

Early openings and late closings are going to be essential in this region due to the crazy work hours and long commutes that Angelenos usually have. Rockreation opens at 6A on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. There's a small but fiercely loyal "Dawn Patrol" that has climbed these early hours for years and it's a group that for various reasons can't enjoy the gym at any other time. Much of your clientele will be show-business employees who work some long hours and having a gym that stays open late will draw more business.

Locker rooms and showers are a nice amenity.
Boulderdash originally opened without a place to change clothes and no showers.
For those of us coming from work, changing into climbing clothes in the public restroom was gross.
They later installed a single communal locker room, so I became the creepy older guy having to usually eject some kids out of there before I dropped trousers and changed.

Air Conditioning: Perhaps one of your highest overhead costs. For eight months out of the year, the San Fernando Valley is a hellish place to live, work, or play.

Other amenities that would be nice and open up your fan base:
Aerobic Machines/Gym Equipment/Free Weights.
Day care. Single parents would love you, but this requires a permit and separate dedicated, secluded, quiet space.
Coffee, juice, food options. Also requires city permitting.

Good luck, you'll need it.

Trad climber
Asia, Indonesia, East Java
Oct 13, 2012 - 10:17pm PT
Good recommendations above.

I own a gym and have to agree . You noted that you would raise the height in part of the building. Consider lowering the floor if possible. Might be less work than raising the ceiling.

Dedicate one area of your gym to new comers and first time climbers. Make that section shorter to attract and not scare away people who never climbed before.

Colors colors colors. Make you gym visual stunning, the wow factor goes far with new climbers and people who have never climbed. (That market is the bread and butter)

Remember to offer your existing members new routes,new program, news routes (did I mention that already) and other incentives to stay. Very easy to chase new members and forget to focus on the once you already have.

Cracks cracks cracks.

On the post above, I think my facility needs to explore the early start two days a week. Good idea.


from SoCal
Oct 13, 2012 - 10:27pm PT
I would suggest what is called "horizontal integration", which means offering a wide range of products and services that other gyms may not offer. A "pro" shop. Candy, snacks, Red Bull for the sport climbers and a vending machine selling beanies.

Think about what you wish was at the current gyms, then fill that market.

Seriously, think about hiring some hot climber chicks, at least one, behind the counter.

Since you are in the SFV, offer trips, classes etc at Stoney.

Do your homework. Where is the closest competition? Do you have a good location, visible, easy to access, enough parking, etc.

Boulder climber
Braintree, Ma
Oct 14, 2012 - 02:57am PT
You guys have left some very important thoughts to consider and some things to research into. I had originally planned to have a separate section for new climbers, and it's good to see you guys agree with it too. Also, I was going to focus a lot of attention to having changable cracks routes due to my personal interested in them, but I'm glad to know other climbers would be using them as well, because from what I have seen crack climbs haven't been very popular in the gyms.

As for hip belays and munter hitch, though they might save money, they are a lot more dangerous to teach to beginners, especially to those who are just going in for fun and don't won't to worry about the technical aspect of climbing. I rather spend the money in auto-locking belays to offer a sense of comfort to the climber and to ease the pressure of responsibility off the belayer. I want to make the learning experience as quick and easy possible and if they want to invest more time into climbing, then I will offer classes to teach different methods of belaying.

I have definitely been looking at other gyms setups and been trying to base mine off of those that appear to be successful.

Thank you guys for the feedback and will certainly focus on those suggestion you have given me.

Carlo C

Boulder climber
Braintree, Ma
Oct 14, 2012 - 03:00am PT
As for those of you who have an interesting sense of humor, as "funny" as your posts it might be, it's also a bit pointless. My fault for getting off on the wrong foot and making the mistake of not re-reading my entry, but I'm not perfect and do make mistakes. But the overall point of this thread is that I'm trying to make a great climbing gym, because it seems like there are a lot of gyms out there doing it the wrong way, and I don't want to fall under that group. So if you can't help out with actual helpful post, well that's fine, but do know it's your own time that you are wasting, not mine.

Technically expert, safe belayer, can lead if easy
Oct 14, 2012 - 03:03am PT
ST Survivor's Tip #19:

Thick skin.

Good luck to ya, mate!

Trad climber
Asia, Indonesia, East Java
Oct 14, 2012 - 04:47am PT
Very thick skin, enough money in the bank to live on for a long time.

Find a way to celebrate every occasion: Rocktober fest, Christmas parties, New Years Eve, Anniversaries and so one. Build a community.

Have fun.
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
Oct 14, 2012 - 10:30am PT
Yer Gonna Die!!!!

Seriously, climbers have NO money. You will make money marketing climbing to non-climbers, Scout Troops etc. And when I say "make money" I mean you could earn up to $15,000 a year!

Oct 14, 2012 - 10:41am PT
Climbers USE to have no money. With the usual notable dirtbag exceptions, I suspect that paradigm has flipped upside down. The majority of climbers are working professionals and making solid bank. They need gyms so that they can bang out a workout and stay in shape after work so that their weekends can be pleasurable and not just a disastrous huff-fest.

I thought you got some pretty good advice upthread first poster dude. Why get all huffy yourself? Planet Granite is coming to this town (they will be the 5th or 6th rock gym in the area of a mid-sized market, and still feel that they can support a 32,000 sq foot space. The annual cost to be a member is $830. They will need a lot of scratch to cover that kind of fixed monthly nut. Anyone still thinking climbers don't have money? Calculate the sq footage costs and that's some serious vig to cover. www.

Trad climber
Oct 14, 2012 - 10:43am PT
Hard slab climbing.
vary the terxture of the walls, have some greesy spots.

Jebus H Bomz

Reno, Nuh VAAAA duh
Oct 14, 2012 - 11:05am PT
Dedicate one area of your gym to new comers and first time climbers. Make that section shorter to attract and not scare away people who never climbed before.

B day parties, parents looking for activities for their kids, and date night "let's try out climbing" type markets are probably a big part of the gym income. So,now you have to think about education for a short term audience, have employees who are good at this type of customer and routes that cater to them.

One idea are auto belays over some easier (although still vertical) routes, they require almost no training to operate. Auto belays are also nice for regular gym members who want to pump out 20 laps on an endurance circuit or the like.

As far as terrain, crack may be a waste of space for beginners but may be desired by your local traddies. I'm not sure, I've never been a member of a gym that did cracks really well. Slabs... meh. Okay to have for easy climbing, but never really seems to approximate the real deal as it gets harder and I've never seen lead slab terrain in the gym (and leading slab is mostly what makes it interesting). The best terrain I've found is vertical or overhanging, which generally gets you stronger and allows for safe falls when leading.

Bouldering is a major draw and gets people in on their lunch break and other times they are flying solo.

You (the OP) sound interested in providing a good gym, so I wish you the best of luck.
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