Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 21 - 40 of total 44 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>

Trad climber
Oct 14, 2012 - 07:43am PT
Hard slab climbing.
vary the terxture of the walls, have some greesy spots.

Jebus H Bomz

Reno, Nuh VAAAA duh
Oct 14, 2012 - 08:05am 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.

Trad climber
4 Corners Area
Oct 14, 2012 - 08:22am PT
The best climbing gyms have killer bouldering facilities. A climbing oriented weight room is essential, too (campus boards, systems wall, free weights, cardio, etc . . .)

Jim Henson's Basement
Oct 14, 2012 - 08:40am PT
Well. first off.. good luck with this. I'm in the SF valley and would gladly jump ship from Boulderdash for some variety and a better membership deal. (Don't get me started on Boulderdash's eF'd-up guest-policy.)but I digress...

Some good suggestions. Cracks and dihedrals/corners are the biggest deficits in the local gyms here.

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.

I agree that this is an unfortunate reality of making money off a gym so you need to cater to it. Figure out a marketing plan and hire some employees who are great with kids.

Good bouldering is an obvious must.

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Oct 14, 2012 - 10:17am PT
Birthday parties, youth teams, date night, first timers...this will be crucial to making the $$$$ bottom line. Plan for it.

At the same time, these things can conflict with your dedicated core who are there to train. Figure out a way to separate them or harmonize them. Youth teams can be especially problematic as they cluster and can dominate entire sections of walls. Bday parties tend to be on weekends, not usually a big deal.

Crack rack. There's a gym in Michigan, Planet Rock that has a very good example. This is the best, cheapest, least space demanding way to get effective crack terrain. Cracks that are molded into the wall (aside from maybe some wide things where you need that extra depth) are not typically very good for training. Side by side, fixed width wooden cracks like the crack rack are nice. There used to be a thread on that the guy who built it put up some photos. unfortunately routesetter closed shop...maybe contact Planet rock directly.

Setters. This is a hard one because the turnover is very heavy. Forget about a paid head setter and volunteer staff, you will need paid staff, period. Ideally, a 10,000ft2 gym would turnover the entire terrain every 2 months or less. Fresh terrain is the lifeblood of your gym for regulars, especially at the higher end of ability levels where there will be less things at their interest level anyway. Your head setter needs to be $%^&ing strong, a V5/5.12 guy ain't gonna cut it. You need someone tickling double digit V-grades and sending 5.13 at least. If you think of your head setter as a min wage, bs job, you will get min wage bs setting. The two most imporant jobs in the gym are publicity/marketing and head setter.

Always, always have enough holds on the walls that people can warm up. Many gyms only set holds for specific routes on the lower part of the walls...sometimes this is fine and you can traverse around and warmup, sometimes it's jacked because there will suddenly be V5 sequences to link holds. Stick a load of footholds at traverse level that aren't part of routes and leave them there (change them up from time to time, but the point is you should always be able to traverse a long section of wall never seeing a sequence harder than say 5.9-10b)

No $%^&ing slacklines in the middle of the gym.

Autobelays are bitchin for people doing PE work or partnerless.

Set with tape. Yes it's a PITA to maintain and it isn't cheap for you. But setting on hold color/type is equally a PITA for the climbers because it limits what can be set, and once chalk gets on the holds (or depending on lighting in the gym) it is almost impossible to tell grey from purple from black, red from pink, etc. I've climbed and set in gym that did it both ways, I will never join a gym that sets on hold color (even if they have superior terrain, auto belays, and other things I's THE reason I train at my current gym and not Hangar)
Jebus H Bomz

Reno, Nuh VAAAA duh
Oct 14, 2012 - 10:22am PT
No $%^&ing slacklines in the middle of the gym.

God-fvcking-damn, you could not call that better. I hate that sh1t. They're usually a nuisance, and often a hazard.


Oct 14, 2012 - 12:53pm PT
Good setters are a must.

People will forgive a short gym or short wall if its convenient, but shitty setters are SUCH A HUGE TURN OFF.

Yes, the overhanging lead cave is going to be a huge pump-fest due to the nature of the climbing, but that doesn't mean everything needs to be a pump fest, you can actually make interesting climbing indoors.

P.S. Anybody know who "RZ" is at Planet Granite? that guy (gal?) sets the best indoor routes.
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oct 14, 2012 - 01:29pm PT
Homo slab! easy to set up, sheets of plywood with a few dimes glued to it!

Trad climber
los angeles
Oct 14, 2012 - 02:42pm PT

gay "orgy cave" with wall-mounted lube dispensers

fuk yeah!


Trad climber
Oct 14, 2012 - 03:20pm PT
so someone here must own a gym, and someone must think like an MBA. So what's the math of opening a gym. I have no money so don't worry, I'm not going to compete, but I'm curious what it looks like. I figure the owners of Mission/Ironworks clubs must be rolling in the bucks by now. ha

So, what is rent on 32000 sq ft? What's the buildout cost? Whats the labor? How much can you charge? How long does it take to ramp up your membership? How big of a base community do you have to pull from? I'd love to see the equation putting all this together. If you know the figures but don't know how to build an excel model I'd even be willing to help you out just for fun.

Oct 14, 2012 - 03:45pm PT
Think about putting in a horizontal ladder, 8 or 9 feet above floor. Like you see in some playgrounds. A very versatile apparatus that is also a good conditioner.
beef supreme

the west
Oct 14, 2012 - 04:15pm PT
carlo, you may have seen the 'smart ass' remarks less than helpful, but like you said, starting off the thread with a MP audience didn't necessarily.... oh, f*#k it. nevermind.

but seriously, bars and strip clubs make all the money!! I'm telling you what, bar on top of the bouldering cave! I'm just throwing out real money making solutions! I have yet to be into a gym that I really liked, maybe you can start up the right one! maybe a hooka lounge?

cracks, bikram, sauna/ steam room would also be good additions.

Trad climber
los angeles
Oct 14, 2012 - 04:25pm PT
and don't be frikkin homophobic, carlo

Trad climber
los angeles
Oct 14, 2012 - 04:27pm PT
and put ashtrays about halfway up each route, for people who like to smoke

Big Wall climber
Oct 14, 2012 - 04:37pm PT
my advice is to start up an ice climbing gym.

i'll be the first to say that only cuzz i work at an ice rink :)

i'm still waiting for a venture cap to help me out.

good luck i'll visit if u open in the valley.

Trad climber
Asia, Indonesia, East Java
Oct 14, 2012 - 07:51pm PT
A small coffee-shop with snack-bar, depending on food laws in your state's laws could generate some extra income too. You don't need to do this yourself, you can do some form of revenue sharing and outsource it.

Boulder climber
Braintree, Ma
Oct 20, 2012 - 12:57am PT

To Guangzhou: I certainly plan on making the gym as festive and creative as I can, because I know that those minor efforts will make a huge difference in the attitude and atmostphere of the gym.

To Spider Savage: Yes I will die someday, but doubtfully from starting a climbing gym, but then again who knows! There are plenty of climbing gyms that do make a profit over $15K, it's just a matter of how much effort you put into making an good gym and making your customers happy. I agree that you make more profit mostly comes from birthday parties and group events, but your members are what pay for a good majority of your overhead. Climbers aren't all that poor, if they were there wouldn't be climbing gyms.

To Couchmaster: I don't really get what you mean by "Why get all huffy yourself?" I agree that climbers do have money, because all of the climbinggear is pretty expensive. Every extreme sport has costly gear, which is why only so many people even do it.

To Prod: I do plan on having a variety of textures, so that it's not all the same stuff, because that does get boring after a while. And I will have a section of crack climbs.

To Jebus H Bomz: I was thinking of how to make it inviting for the "let's try out climbing" type of people, and I came to the same conclusion of having staff walk around helping out and advise new people on technique and safety. I also haven't seen much attention to crack climbs to the gyms I've been to, but I think a huge part of it is that people don't know how to approach it and are scared to. So I plan on having minor intro classes to expose beginners and regular climbs to the concept of crack climbing. Also, I definitely will have Auto belays, I know how crucial they are. Thanks for the luck!

To justthemaid: Yeah I refused to join Boulderdash, cause of their crazy policies and didn't care for the environment all to much. I will definitely make sure to offer better membership deals and offer more climbing features.

To Elcapinyoazz: I will check out Planet Rock's setup and see how I can incorporate it with my design. Solid Rock in San Diego has a crack tower, which enables you to have a variety of crack routes since they consist of panels, rather than being created into the walls. Setters are important, if not the most important part of a climbing gym. Having a strong dedicated head setters, though isn't easy to find, but I will of course try the best I can. I will be a taped gym don't worry. I've climbed at places that do colored holds and they aren't fun, especially when they don't wash them and you can't tell. As for slack lines, I do plan on having one but I will make sure to place it in an area that isn't hazardous for everyone else.

To Jebus H Bomz: I personally enjoy slackline and know of other climbers that do as well. No matter what I won't be able to make everyone happy, but I will certainly try to section things off.

To Crasic: I agree that overhanging is a good thing, but to not overdue it.

To Jon Beck: I don't know what a homo slab is.

To Rockermike: There's no one exact formula, but I go with what I know someone can correct me if I'm wrong.
How much to build the place has to many variables, so not going to bother.
Average cost of climbing wall is $35 per sq ft.
Your price depends on your competitors, you look at how much they charge and what they offer. If you can do better and give more then you can charge more. How much more exactly? Best way of finding out is asking people in your community, and that should give you a rough idea.
Increasing the amount of members you have all depends on how you run the gym. If you have a quality gym people will join.
How big of a do you need community is another tricky one. It really depends on your business model, if you are formatting something for kids well you don't need that big of a community, since children are everywhere. If you want to target a different audience that requires more research.
Some climbing wall companies have consulting packages that help you determine the right size and give you a formula, but like anything it's not exact. It's just a really really good guess conducted from the observation they have done on the gyms they have helped build.

To Jogill: I have heard of a gym that has monkey bars with that kind of concept, something I thought was a pretty cool idea. Thank you for reminding me.

To Beef Supreme: I agree with you it was completely my fault. Taking everything you said into consider I thought of a good idea. When you go to top-out a bouldering problem, there will be a stripper waiting to hand you a shot. And every time you help sign a person up you will be granted access to the hookah theme strip club, that will be attached to the gym.

To Toadgas: I'll make sure to have male strippers as well, so that I am not being sexist or unfair. Ashtrays will only be at the top of routes in order to give climbers something to reach for.

To Pyro: I found a climbing company that does ice walls and I thought it would be a great idea. Only problem is that the area I'm planning to open my gym gets insanely hot during the summer, so I would have to see the cost of maintaining such a wall.

To Guangzhou: I was planning on having some type of smoothie bar after I had the gym establish and running for some time. I don't want to focus on too many things at the beginning.

Once again thank you guys for all the feedback. The more input I get the better of a gym I will be able to create.

Carlo Cherisier
David Plotnikoff

Mountain climber
Emerald Hills, CA
Oct 20, 2012 - 03:31am PT
crasic wrote:

P.S. Anybody know who "RZ" is at Planet Granite? that guy (gal?) sets the best indoor routes.

Bob Zambetti is a lone wolf among the PG Sunnyvale setting crew. He is older and much more experienced than most setters. What puts him in a league of his own: He actually studies people of different sizes and shapes climbing the routes. One cool cat.

People bitch about bad setting all the time. It's the favorite pastime in the gym. But how many people recognize really thoughtful practitioners of the art? Sunnyvale has several -- such as RZ, Adriel Rodriguez and Art Balaoro.

Oct 20, 2012 - 03:49am PT
Some great thoughts up thread, in particular restroom with changing clothes area for both sexes, that could be lockers or at the least benches to sit. Air conditioning is a biggie, I would oversize as your customers are going to be near the ceiling a lot, hence warmer than a normal building's calculation. A dedicated area for birthday parties i.e. table and chairs to open presents, cut the cake etc.A lounge area for parents, spectators and visitors who won't be climbing. Enough benches with storage underneath for the climbing area, so people don't have to wait to sit and shoe up. Lastly keep the gym clean in particular the bathrooms, and as noted above use colors, colors, colors on your walls. Mark your routes with same colored holds not tape, and place a route card by each route in a proper holder not tape that will get scuffed off. My thoughts.

Social climber
Dalian, Liaoning
Oct 20, 2012 - 04:09am PT
Location, location, location!

Dalian is a city of six million without a climbing gym!

Except for a few poorly maintained walls in some of the nicer hotels here.
Messages 21 - 40 of total 44 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Review Categories
Recent Route Beta
Recent Gear Reviews