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By Carlo Nyte
Oct 13, 2012

Hey Mountain Project Members,

My name Carlo Cherisier and I'm new to the Mountain Project Forum. I just wanted to post that I am planing on opening a climbing gym in the San Fernando Valley. The building I have found to setup shop is roughly 20,000sq ft with a ceiling height of 32ft, though I do plan on raising certain parts to about 40-45 feet.

My question to you all is, what are some features/ programs you would like to see in a gym? Though, I do plan on having a yoga studio, and a fitness center, I feel that those have become a standard for climbing gyms, and when things become standard it means there is room for improvement and new ideas. So I was hoping to get some feedback from any of you, of new ideas, or of problems you have faced outdoors that you have a hard time being able to train for at a gym?

As climbing continues to grow in popularity, new creative ways will start being implemented in gyms. And those ideas, that appear "new" have been thought of by plenty other people years before. So why not try to implement them now.

I thank you all for your time, and I would appreciate any ideas or thoughts you are willing to share with me. My email is Carlo890@gmail.com in case that's an easier way to share your feedback. Thank you again and take care for now.

Sincerely,
Carlo Cherisier


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By agd
Oct 13, 2012
alaska

Have you done any due diligence to ensure that you can legally raise the ceiling by that amount?

When are you planning on opening up?


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By Joe Virtanen
From Asheville, NC
Oct 13, 2012
Pit BBQ

In my opinion, the most valuable training tool a gym can have is tall walls. 40-45 feet is a great height, and would be even better if you had an entirely overhanging set of walls at that height.


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By plantmandan
From Brighton, Co
Oct 13, 2012
J Tree after blizzard

People are generally drawn to a climbing gym for the climbing. Your primary focus should be on building some good quality walls and setting good quality routes with plenty of variety. If the climbing experience is good, people will come. You don't have to reinvent the wheel here.


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By Old and Busted
From Centennial, CO
Oct 13, 2012
Stabby

Put in a couple hot tubs out in the main area.


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By Woodchuck ATC
Oct 13, 2012
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008

Be sure to celebrate National nude recreation week with climbing in the buff days planned. Seriously, get the steep walls, good variety of new holds, and go for the height if you can.


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By Dana Bartlett
From CT
Oct 13, 2012

plantmandan wrote:
People are generally drawn to a climbing gym for the climbing. Your primary focus should be on building some good quality walls and setting good quality routes with plenty of variety. If the climbing experience is good, people will come. You don't have to reinvent the wheel here.


That's pretty much all you need to know, but a lot of gyms either never realized this or forgot it. There are quite a few that are "the only game in town" and after a while they really coast. Dingy atomsphere, poor lighting, routes that never change, holds that are never or rarely cleaned, and unimaginative setting - but the customers keep coming because they have no choice or they don't know any better. Keep it clean, set good routes, change them often; it's not hard.


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By s.price
From PS,CO
Oct 13, 2012
 Morning Dew ,self portrait

Beer.


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By NickinCO
From colorado
Oct 13, 2012
after the hard stuff, into cruiser hands.

The gym in chicago (vertical endeavors) had the option to lead up the wall, across the ceiling, and down the other side, I always thought that was kind of cool. It allows you to get a really good burn by going up across down, back up, across, and down and it's pretty fun for the gym.


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By TheHopper
Oct 14, 2012

Cracks!

Beer wouldn't hurt either...


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By Carlo Nyte
Oct 14, 2012

Hey guys thanks for all the feedback.

To AGD: I have checked out if I can have the ceiling raised or ground lowered, it's just a matter of working things out with the buildng owner. And I plan on having it open next September.

To NickinCO: I'll check out Vertical Endeavors and see what their gym is like and if it's a design that would be possible.

To TheHopper: I am looking at having a changeable crack wall, so the routes aren't permanent. And lol, I'll see what I can do about the beer.

I will definitely be focusing on having good routes that are changed routinely. I have been to a few gyms that keep the same routes up for way too long, making the gym boring after a while. I will also make sure to get the hold washed whenever the routes are switched to keep them clean. I've noticed that the best gyms I've gone to, have been very clean and well kept, while offering a variety of climbs.

When I was asking for new ideas, I wasn't trying to re-invent the wheel or create something new. I was talking about new training equipment, or new lessons to teach during a climbing class that would benefit new and advanced climbers.

I appreciate all the input thus far, and will make sure to incorporate what I can to make a solid and enjoyable climbing gym. Thank you all again.

Sincerely,
Carlo C


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By Erik W
From Bay Area, CA
Oct 14, 2012
North face of Ama Dablam - taken on approach to Kongma La.

Ping as many gyms as you can who serve areas similar to yours (but are outside of your area). Ask them for their input on "extras," compared to the core business of climbing. Class attendees as % of overall entrants, usage breakdown for gym equipment, etc.

If you'll be debt financing, you'll have to do this all anyway as part of your b-plan for the banks, so might as well get the ball rolling early.

As I'm sure you know, after-school babysitting is a huge money maker for gyms (and pisser-offer for adults having to deal with kids running around hyped on sugar and campusing .12d).


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By Anthony A.
Oct 15, 2012

In addition to climbing, my local gym has a weight area, cardio area (cycloes, treadmills, rowing machines), a group exercise room and a birthday/instructional room. Members of the gym can access classes for free in the exercise room. The classes include:

  • yoga (various types)
  • spin (aka stationery bikes with techno)
  • cardio boxing
  • boot camp

They have several daily intro to climbing classes to teach the basics, e.g. how to belay, how to put on the harness. Less frequent classes which cost additional are lead climbing classes.

About every quarter the gym has a "comp", (competition) either bouldering or routes. The comps usually include free pizza and beer.

I would say the free classes, weight room , plus climbing all for about as much as I would pay for a membership at a "regular" gym make it a slam dunk. Oh and they have a sauna, BONUS!

Climbing features you should be sure to have:

  • fist, hand, fingers crack
  • chimney
  • corners
  • a wide variety of angles from extreme roof overhang to slightly slabby positive areas.
  • if possible a less aggressive grit in the surface finish for the cracks, less tape required..
  • aretes

Negatives I have experienced or heard about other gyms:

  • I went to one gym which seemed to be run by local early teens. No concept of safety, not even a belay test. They even had climbed up a ladder to hang a rope in an overhung section and were take leaping dives and swinging younger children across the gym, all off one bolt.

  • A friends gym in MI doesn't open until 3pm. Many people would prefer to workout/climb before work.

  • The locker rooms in our local gym are too small and lack airflow, weekday nights can be very claustrophobic.

  • It seems many injuries in the bouldering area occur when extra mats aren't in the right spot and someone either misses completely or twists something when they only land partially. Make sure the bouldering has enough padding everywhere.

  • I really like it when gym has height. It always seems sort of lame when the routes are only a little more than bouldering problems.

  • One of the walls in our local gym has a small 2" ledge in the middle, which is problematic when setting harder routes because you have this awesome rest right in the middle of every route. The route setters sometimes remember to mark it "ledge off" or "features off" but really there is no reason to include this type of feature in the permanent terrain.

  • a nearby brewery or bar is great, personally i don't think alcohol should be a regular part of athletic environment. A new gym in Reno has a bar less than 10' from the edge of the bouldering area. It just seems very weird to me. I certainly don't want to climb with a belayer who might be tipsy.

  • trying to color coordinate the holds on a single route greatly limits the route setters, tape works better.

  • no route should be up for more than 3 months. I hate going around the gym and knowing every hold of every route in my range....

hope that helps. btw there was another thread on the same topic in the past month, it had some really good advice. I recommend you use the search box...


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By Rob Gordon
From Hollywood, CA
Oct 15, 2012
Tough Mantle Problem.  Haven't sent yet...

How bout a bouldering rate or at least a half off night for those of us who can't afford the ridiculously priced memberships around here. There's definitely some sort of price discrimination that can be done so that you can get yuppies to buy memberships but also cater to the young people and dirtbags that can't afford it. Like me.


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By Jason Lantz
Oct 15, 2012

Carlo...

quite a bit of a gyms income is not really from climbers unless you have a wide base like the gyms in boulder. quite a few support themselves through birthday parties and programs run with a local college or outing clubs... therefore it's worth planning out your gym accordingly. Climbers that are trying to make the most of an afterwork pump are frequently annoyed by these other clientele.

Personally, i like to train on uninterrupted 45 degree runs. To many people make walls way to complex when a good route setter is all they really need...

and like mel brooks said... "merchandizing, merchandizing, merchandizing."

PS. You are never going to be adjusting that crack... just put in a feature and texture it well. get ahold of jim bowers at www.synrockholds.com/... his coatings are the best texture out there.


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By claudio ricardez
From ESCONDIDO
Oct 15, 2012
Mt. Woodson

This is a good idea for cracks at a gym. Check it out if you get a chance.
www.cracksystems.com/


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By Woodchuck ATC
Oct 15, 2012
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008

claudio ricardez wrote:
This is a good idea for cracks at a gym. Check it out if you get a chance. www.cracksystems.com/



That looks pretty wicked...and costly too! 20,000 with additional building prep costs for less than 20 ft high is alot. Think of all the plywood wall footage you could build for that money.


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By claudio ricardez
From ESCONDIDO
Oct 15, 2012
Mt. Woodson

You can make the towers as tall as you want up to 36' or so. The crack modules are interchangeable so you can create different width cracks on the same route. If you are starting a gym and have not built a crack wall it may be cheaper to just build one, but you only have one crack to use. This way you can always create new crack routes and widths.
If a gym is already built this is good because it doesn't take up a bunch of floor space to build a new wall.
Your basically adding 4 new crack routes that can be modified to a gym. Depending on how popular it becomes I would think you will make your money back pretty quick. But than again I'm not in the gym business so I may be mistaken.


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By Carlo Nyte
Oct 19, 2012

To Erik W: Those are some great ideas, I have been looking up a few gyms to see what they offer, and the good ones have a designated weight and or yoga room. The more you can offer people the more the happier they will be.

To Anthony A: I definitely plan on offering daily intro classes and having a staff member to walk around to help and advise to climbers and to keep the gym safe. As for quarter formal and informal competition, that sounds like a great idea. It would give people something to look forward to and a way to bring attract new people. Since competitions are costly, I will probably only be able to afford a couple the first few years, but as they get popular I will increase them. I will certainly have more affordable classes then some of the climbing gyms that I have been to, but since climbing is still a specialize activity it doesn't make sense from a business standpoint to have the same prices as a "regular" gym. A regular gym can attract your average customer, a climbing gym only attracts people with more of an adventurous mindset. And because climbing walls aren't cheap, the memberships can't be either, but I will try to be fair as possible without digging myself into a hole.

To Rob Gordon: From the different gym owners I have talked to, it doesn't make too much sense to have just a boulder only rate, especially because there is no convenient way to monitor people. As I mentioned earlier though, I will try to make the prices not so outlandish, but at the same time you can't expect quality stuff for cheap prices. I've been the broke college kid before, so I do understand and will try my best.

To Jason Lantz: I plan on having a sectioned off area for children and birthday party events. I know how annoying it is to have kids running around, and how dangerous it could be. I will make sure to keep the age groups separated so everyone can enjoy their time. And with the crack systems wall you could adjust the crack wall or at least change it out the route.

To Claudio Ricardez: I've climbed at Solid Rock in Old Town, so I know how fun they are and their benefits. I plan on making a trip down and talking to Jon about it. I have a different design in mind and a feature I would like to have added. Once I get further along in the project I will call or meet with you guys to discuss it.

Thank you all for your time and feedback, I will definitely incorporate as much as I can so that I can build a great climb that everyone can enjoy. Thanks again and take care!

Sincerely,
Carlo Cherisier


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By claudio ricardez
From ESCONDIDO
Oct 22, 2012
Mt. Woodson

Carlo,
FYI, John L. w/ Crack Systems is not at Solid Rock anymore, but if or when you need to contact him to talk about crack walls,let me know and I can send you his contact info or put you in touch with him.


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By A.Javi.Gecko
From San Diego, CA
Oct 22, 2012
V3, Castle Hill, NZ

Make something like this happen... either in a boulder cave or with longer cracks.

www.dpmclimbing.com/articles/view/revolutionary-climbing-wal>>>


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By Will S
From Joshua Tree
Oct 22, 2012

I too, have climbed at Solid Rock in old town and used their crack tower (while on business down there, not as my regular gym).

My advice is to build side by side wooden fixed-width cracks. Much better for training, much cheaper, much more compact. The tower is a kind of novel, but even with the changeable panels it suffers from the same problem of cracks molded into the wall...you get them wired, using the exact spots that are easiest/work for your size. For fixed width parellel sided wooden jobs, there is no "wiring", it actually develops technique.

I'd also say that having worked at, set in, and trained in over a dozen gyms over the years, Solid Rock Old town is hands down the worst POS gym I've even seen from every perspective. The floor sucks, the terrain is mediocre, the setting sucks, they don't rate half the stuff which makes projecting or doing 4x4s a PITA, it's filthy, staff has some insanely loud barking-ass dog going nuts in the bouldering room, prime terrain was inaccessible becase someone decided a good time to set problems was during peak climbing hours. Total shit show, and I send everyone I know who is in that general area to Mesa Rim.

Go there (SR-OT), take notes, and do the exact opposite.


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By Ben Beard
From Superior, AZ
Oct 22, 2012
roo, my only son, the stare that takes down a herd of 'stock

girls climb free...


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By A.Javi.Gecko
From San Diego, CA
Oct 22, 2012
V3, Castle Hill, NZ

Also, I visited a sweet gym in Auckland, New Zealand that had a small play room with short, colorful obstacles/walls for kids. If your target market is strong, young climbers you probably dont need this (and those climbers will probably crag it more often than gym it) but if you want to get older, fitness-minded folks who have to pay for both childcare and a gym membership, this could get the parents climbing (and keeping an eye on the kids from the top of the wall) more often and spur a younger generation to fuel future membership.


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