2022 CBJ Gym List Awards

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Gym List Awards 2022
Gym List Awards 2022
Photo of SoCal Bouldering courtesy of Flashed

As a business journal team, one of the things we appreciate at CBJ is that every business and businessperson has a story. A total of 44 new climbing gyms opened across the United States, Canada and Mexico last year; every one of these individual gyms has a unique story about the hurdles they overcame just to open their doors, the team of people who breathed life into the project and work hard day in and day out, and the local community members they serve who make it all worthwhile. The CBJ Gym List Awards this year go to gyms and brands from multiple states, countries and continents, and their stories represent only a small fraction of the work that’s going on in the industry that we could commemorate.

Approach

 

The Developer of the Year award, in particular, was actually the impetus behind the creation of the awards in 2019. We love celebrating climbing businesses big and small that are having an impact in local communities—we’ve been recognizing the largest climbing gyms, chains and builders ever since CBJ’s first Gyms & Trends report of 2013—and that’s why we made sure to have awards based on climbing wall surface as well as climbing gym locations. While it’s certainly not the only measure of success, in basing the Developer of the Year and supplier awards on gym locations, we hope to acknowledge a greater diversity of climbing markets and communities, in addition to the large, impressive climbing facilities that opened last year.

So without further ado, please join us in celebrating the climbing gym and brand winners of the 2022 CBJ Gym List Awards! (In conjunction with this article, be sure to read the full Gyms & Trends report for 2022 here.)

Scroll or click to see the following awardees: Central Rock Gym – FA Climbing and Fitness – Flashed – Movement – projectROCK – Rock Gym Pro – Walltopia

Movement Design District
Photo of Movement Design District courtesy of Movement Climbing, Yoga & Fitness

Largest New Climbing Gym 2022
(based on total climbing wall surface)

Movement Design District
Dallas, TX

Movement, the largest climbing gym chain in all of North America, also opened the largest climbing gym on the continent in 2022. Clocking in at 35,880 square feet of climbing surface, Movement Design District adds a wealth of roped climbing and bouldering to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The opening of the state-of-the-art facility makes Movement the first climbing gym chain stateside to reach 20 locations—with 6 gyms on the West Coast in California and Oregon, 9 between Colorado, Illinois and Texas, and 5 on the East Coast in Maryland and Virginia. Movement has already announced another gym is on the way, as well, in the Denver area.

All Movement Climbing, Yoga & Fitness facilities feature a diverse blend of those three offerings, and the new Design District gym is no exception. In addition to 56-foot climbing walls, notable amenities at the new gym include fitness and cardio zones, classes for climbing, yoga and group-fitness, youth programming, saunas, and a gear shop. The facility also serves as a complement to Movement’s other Dallas location, The Hill—a bouldering-focused gym that’s less than 15 miles away—in providing roped walls for top rope, lead and speed climbing in a different part of the city. The Design District, according to a press release, has a “unique and vibrant” community in an area that’s “known for its fine-art dealerships, furniture showrooms, and eclectic shopping experiences set against an industrial backdrop.”

“We’re extremely excited to be expanding our presence in Dallas,” Movement CEO Jeremy Levitt said last year. “The Design District climbing gym further enhances the diversity of activities already in the area and will give the community a welcoming place to gather and share their passion for fun and adventure through climbing and fitness.”

Rockwerx

 

Top Ten Largest New Climbing Gyms of 2022
(based on total climbing wall surface)

1st – Movement Design District – Dallas, TX – 35880 sqft
2nd – projectROCK – Easley, SC – 32000 sqft
3rd – First Ascent – Arlington Heights – Arlington Heights, IL – 28000 sqft
4th – Alta Climbing – Gilbert, AZ – 27300 sqft
5th – The Cliffs Gowanus – Brooklyn, NY – 25000 sqft
6th – The Post (Touchstone) – Pasadena, CA – 22500 sqft
7th – Summit Grapevine 2.0 – Grapevine, TX – 19105 sqft
8th – Cleveland Rocks – Cleveland, OH – 18000 sqft
9th – Goat Climbing Gym – Hackensack, NJ – 17595 sqft
10th – Session Climbing – Santa Rosa, CA – 17132 sqft

FA Station Square
Photo of FA Station Square courtesy of Walltopia

Largest New Bouldering Gym 2022
(based on total climbing wall surface)

FA Climbing & Fitness Station Square
Pittsburgh, PA

FA Climbing & Fitness opened the largest bouldering gym in North America last year, and it wasn’t in a typical location for the Chicago-based gym developer. With six climbing gyms in Illinois—including the large Arlington Heights gym that also opened in 2022—FA Climbing & Fitness Station Square stands out in being the gym chain’s first location outside of Illinois. In total, FA Station Square offers 10,000 square feet of bouldering terrain in a 30,000-square-foot facility that has a climbing training area with campus boards, hangboards and a MoonBoard, two yoga studios and a full fitness gym, various climbing and fitness classes, a pro shop, and a lounge and workspace.

Jon Shepard and Dan Bartz, two of the gym’s co-founders, had spent some time in Pittsburgh and took the plunge when the right property opened up. Located in a former railway station, as the name implies, FA Station Square was designed to retain some of the unique flavor of the original building. The gym’s modern climbing and fitness offerings, according to a press release, are thus “wrapped in the unique architecture and history of the Freight House.”

“We’re honored to make the CBJ list this year!” said Bartz. “FA Station Square is an exciting adaptive reuse of an iconic Pittsburgh space, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to serve the Pittsburgh climbing community with a thoughtful mix of world-class climbing terrain, routesetting for all ability levels, yoga and fitness offerings, and a warm, welcoming atmosphere. If you’re in town for the CWA Summit in May, come check it out!

Thrill Seeker Holds

 

Top Ten Largest New Bouldering Gyms of 2022
(based on total climbing wall surface)

1st – FA Climbing & Fitness Station Square – Pittsburgh, PA – 10000 sqft
2nd – Vertical Rock Tysons Corner – Tysons, VA – 9000 sqft
3rd – Salt Lake Bouldering Project – Salt Lake City, UT – 8736 sqft
4th – Stone Summit Atlanta Bouldering – Doraville, GA – 7879 sqft
5th – Rock Haven – Gresham, OR – 6200 sqft
6th – Central Rock Gym Harvard Square – Cambridge, MA – 5000 sqft
7th – Benchmark Climbing Berkeley – Berkeley, CA – 4638 sqft
8th (tie) – Central Rock Gym Fenway – Boston, MA – 4000 sqft
8th (tie) – Fargo Climbing – Fargo, ND – 4000 sqft
10th – Rock Spot Malden – Malden, MA – 3500 sqft

projectROCK Easley climbing gym
Photos of projectROCK Easley courtesy of projectROCK

Tallest New Climbing Gym 2022
(based on peak indoor climbing wall height)

projectROCK
Easly, SC

In 2022, the tallest new climbing gym was without a doubt projectROCK, with its mammoth 84-foot, rock-realistic climbing walls (27 feet taller than the runner-up). Opened in June of last year in Easley, South Carolina, the developers of projectROCK designed the gym to create the “illusion of traveling to popular climbing destinations throughout the Americas”—the same idea behind their first facility, opened outside of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 2017. Because the local climbers must travel far to get to major crags, projectROCK gyms were designed to mimic popular climbing spots around the country, like Yosemite Valley, Joshua Tree and Devils Tower.

Owner Marc Landau took that concept to the next level with projectROCK Easley, replicating the rock texture found in these areas as well as a bit of the rock wall heights in opening one of the tallest climbing gyms in North America. The gym’s 32,000 square feet of climbing surface includes RADrock realistic replicas of Delicate Arch and Monkey Face and an American Valley kids’ area, which has a Golden Gate Bridge traverse wall and other U.S.-themed features.

“The year 2022 was certainly a challenging one for us—opening a gym just coming out of a pandemic, dealing with the onset of a (real or perceived) recession, and battling a personal health challenge,” said Landau. “While the future is certainly unknown, we are confident the climbing will take people in the Upstate of South Carolina to new heights!”

EP Climbing

 

Top Ten Tallest New Climbing Gyms of 2022
(based on peak indoor climbing wall height)

1st – projectROCK – Easley, SC – 84 ft
2nd – Goat Climbing Gym – Hackensack, NJ – 57 ft
3rd (tie) – Movement Design District – Dallas, TX – 56 ft
3rd (tie) – Sessions Climbing + Fitness – El Paso, TX – 56 ft
5th (tie) – First Ascent – Arlington Heights – Arlington Heights, IL – 55 ft
5th (tie) – Alta Climbing – Gilbert, AZ – 55 ft
7th – Cleveland Rocks – Cleveland, OH – 54 ft
8th – Summit Grapevine 2.0 – Grapevine, TX – 50 ft
9th – Session Climbing – Santa Rosa, CA – 48 ft
10th (tie) – The Cliffs Gowanus – Brooklyn, NY – 45 ft
10th (tie) – Central Rock Gym Arsenal Yards – Watertown, MA – 45 ft

Central Rock Gym Fenway
Photo of Central Rock Gym Fenway courtesy of Central Rock

Developer of the Year 2022
(based on new climbing gym locations)

Central Rock Gym

The 2022 Developer of the Year award goes to Central Rock Gym (CRG) in opening three new climbing gyms last year, bringing their grand total to 18 facilities in the Northeast. Since first winning the award in 2019, a year in which CRG owners Joe and Ed Hardy opened five new climbing gyms, CRG hasn’t stopped planning new facilities. In 2022, CRG’s gym development was concentrated in the Boston metro area, where CRG opened two bouldering-focused gyms (Fenway and Harvard Square) and one roped climbing gym (Arsenal Yards) to supplement its existing Boston, Cambridge and Watertown locations. In total, the three new gyms add 15,000 square feet of climbing to CRG’s fleet of gyms in the Northeast, plus fitness and yoga offerings.

CRG’s isn’t done developing either. Three more CRG climbing facilities are in the works in the Northeast—West Hartford (CT), Chelsea and Troy (NY)—as well as a new bouldering-focused gym in Tampa, Florida. Once the four new gyms open, Central Rock is expected to be one of only two climbing gym chains in North America to reach 20+ locations and the only gym developer to do so entirely through self-builds (i.e., not through acquisitions of existing gyms).

“Central Rock Gym has continued to grow as the national awareness of climbing has moved into the spotlight with new films, and the addition to the Olympics,” Ed Hardy told CBJ last year. “Our most important form of growth is to provide our existing communities with additional locations. This gives our members more climbing options, and helps reduce commute times for segments of the population that do not have gyms…We are also on the lookout for markets where the climbing community still needs its first or second gym.”

chart of climbing gym developers who added locations in 2022

Walltopia climbing walls Touchstone The Post
Photo of Touchstone The Post courtesy of Walltopia

Climbing Gym Wall Builder of the Year 2022
(based on new climbing gym locations)

Walltopia

Boasting 16 new climbing gym builds in North America in 2022—13 in the U.S., 2 in Mexico and 1 in Canada—Bulgaria-based Walltopia has won the Climbing Gym Wall Builder of the Year award for the second year running. In fact, Walltopia was chosen for 36% of all new climbing gym builds on the continent. These gyms opened as far south as Adamanta Puebla in Mexico and as far north as J2 Bouldering in Ontario. Combined, Wallopia built over 250,000 square feet of climbing surface across 6 bouldering-focused and 10 mixed-discipline gyms, including last year’s largest climbing gym (Movement Design District) and largest bouldering gym (FA Station Square).

Walltopia completed their first U.S. climbing gym project in 2007 and has since established themselves as one of the pre-eminent climbing wall manufacturers in the world. They have constructed walls ranging from 75 square feet of climbing surface in Coquitlam, British Columbia, to 68,641 square feet in Innsbruck, Austria. In 2022, Walltopia manufactured the climbing walls of 96 new gyms internationally. And already in 2023, Walltopia has been announced as the wall provider for 7 new climbing gyms worldwide (3 in North America).

“All of us at Walltopia take pride in this award and are honored to be recognized for our product(s) and services,” said Adam Koberna, President of Walltopia USA. “But in the end, this award belongs to our customers. Nothing happens without their vision and determination to grow the sport and create amazing climbing facilities. So, we share this with our customers and thank them for trusting us and for being part of the Walltopia family.”

Trango Holds Pardners

 

Top Climbing Gym Wall Builders of 2022
(based on new climbing gym locations)

1st: Walltopia – 14 gyms
2nd: OnSite – 6 gyms
3rd: Vertical Solutions – 5 gyms
4th (tie): EP Climbing – 3 gyms
4th (tie): IMPACT – 3 gyms
6th: DÉLIRE – 2 gyms

Flashed flooring at SoCal Bouldering gym
Photo of SoCal Bouldering courtesy of Flashed

Climbing Gym Floor Installer of the Year 2022
(based on new climbing gym locations)

Flashed

The 2022 Climbing Gym Floor Installer award goes to Flashed, with 10 new climbing gym floor installations between the U.S. (7) and Canada (3). In 2021, Flashed was tied for second place with 6 new gym installations, and Flashed only increased its popularity in 2022 in being chosen as the floor installer for 24% of all new climbing gym builds across the U.S. and Canada. These gyms included the tallest climbing gym (projectROCK Easley), the large Summit Grapevine facility in Dallas, Texas, and the nearby SoCal Bouldering gym in Calgary, Alberta.

Based in Calgary, the Canadian flooring company prides itself on its small business origins, scientific approach to climbing gym flooring, and environmental and community focus. Since beginning as a modest operation in the founders’ basement, Flashed has grown to become a climbing gym and flooring staple in North America, providing the flooring and installation for dozens of climbing gyms as well as numerous USAC competitions over the years.

“We are strong believers that climbing is a celebration of adventure, personal challenge, and community,” said Keith Nalepa, Sales Director & Office Manager at Flashed. “Our tested and tried multi-layered padding provides the best catches, with emphasis on performance, durability, and customer services. Our new Bespoke customization allows gym owners to make the climbing atmosphere as unique as they and their local communities are. Helping to create these experiences and prideful connections is why we are climber’s #1 choice in padding and we are happy to support along this journey.”

Climbing Gym Management Series

 

Top Climbing Gym Floor Installers of 2022
(based on new climbing gym locations)

1st: Flashed – 10 gyms
2nd (tie): Cascade Specialty – 5 gyms
2nd (tie): OnSite – 5 gyms
4th (tie): Kilter – 4 gyms
4th (tie): Strati – 4 gyms
6th: UCS – 3 gyms
7th: Revival – 2 gyms

Rock Gym Pro software
Image courtesy of Rock Gym Pro

Climbing Gym Management Software of the Year 2022
(based on new climbing gym locations)

Rock Gym Pro

Rock Gym Pro (RGP) has won the Climbing Gym Management Software of the Year award for the second year running, providing the CRM/POS software for 16 new U.S. climbing gyms and 5 new Canadian gyms last year. For years, RGP has been the most popular gym management software at North American climbing gyms, and that continued to be the case in 2022. Similarly to 2021, when RGP was chosen for 37 new builds in the U.S. and Canada, 50% of all new climbing gyms across the two countries in 2022 selected RGP as their CRM/POS software. These gyms spanned as far west as Touchstone The Post in California and as far east as Goat Climbing Gym in New Jersey.

As the climbing gym management software of choice, RGP also provides a window into the state of climbing gym revenues in the industry, and the revenues recorded in RGP in 2022 well surpassed pre-Covid levels. Based on RGP data, average total revenues per climbing gym were estimated to be 19% higher in 2022 than they were in 2019. By year’s end, total revenues last year across climbing gyms using RGP exceeded $845 million—an all-time high at RGP.

“The team at Rock Gym Pro is honored to be recognized by Climbing Business Journal with this award for the second year in a row,” said Maria Trysla, Business Leader for RGP. “This recognition is a testament to our continued commitment to the support and growth of this incredible indoor climbing gym community, and we look forward to further improving our software with some very exciting updates in the near future.”

Asana Climbing

 

Top Climbing Gym Management Software of 2022
(based on new climbing gym locations)

1st: Rock Gym Pro – 21 gyms
2nd: Approach – 8 gyms
3rd: MindBody – 5 gyms
4th: Capitan – 2 gyms

Routesetter Bundle from Chalk Cartel

 

THE GYM LIST 2022

New U.S. Roped and Mixed Climbing Gyms of 2022

RANK NAME LOCATION WALLS HEIGHT
1 Movement Design District Dallas, TX 35880 sqft 56 ft
2 projectROCK Easley, SC 32000 sqft 84 ft
3 Alta Climbing Gilbert, AZ 27300 sqft 55 ft
4 (tie) First Ascent Arlington Heights Arlington Heights, IL 25000 sqft 55 ft
4 (tie) The Cliffs Gowanus Brooklyn, NY 25000 sqft 45 ft
6 The Post (Touchstone) Pasadena, CA 22500 sqft 40 ft
7 Summit Grapevine 2.0 Grapevine, TX 19105 sqft 50 ft
8 Cleveland Rocks Cleveland, OH 18000 sqft 54 ft
9 Goat Climbing Gym Hackensack, NJ 17595 sqft 57 ft
10 Session Climbing Santa Rosa, CA 17132 sqft 48 ft
11 ASCEND Point Breeze Pittsburgh, PA 14000 sqft 42 ft
12 Sessions Climbing + Fitness El Paso, TX 13000 sqft 56 ft
13 Volta Climbing Trenton, ME 7970 sqft 40 ft
14 Central Rock Gym Arsenal Yards Watertown, MA 6000 sqft 45 ft
15 CoMo Rocks Columbia, MO 5115 sqft 18 ft
16 Fort Rock Climbing Center Fort Myers, FL 4025 sqft 32 ft
17 Gravity Lab Durango, CO 3500 sqft 25 ft
18 Rapp Rocks Climbing Gym Fredericksburg, VA 3000 sqft 25 ft

New U.S. Bouldering Gyms of 2022

RANK NAME LOCATION WALLS HEIGHT
1 FA Climbing & Fitness Station Square Pittsburgh, PA 10000 sqft 15 ft
2 Vertical Rock Tysons Corner Tysons, VA 9000 sqft 18 ft
3 Salt Lake Bouldering Project Salt Lake City, UT 8736 sqft 17 ft
4 Stone Summit Atlanta Bouldering Doraville, GA 7879 sqft 14 ft
5 Rock Haven Gresham, OR 6200 sqft 17 ft
6 Central Rock Gym Harvard Square Cambridge, MA 5000 sqft 15 ft
7 Benchmark Climbing Berkeley Berkeley, CA 4638 sqft 15 ft
8 (tie) Central Rock Gym Fenway Boston, MA 4000 sqft 15 ft
8 (tie) Fargo Climbing Fargo, ND 4000 sqft 15 ft
10 Rock Spot Malden Malden, MA 3500 sqft 15 ft
11 (tie) Boulders & Brews Fayetteville, AR 3000 sqft 15 ft
11 (tie) Recreate Climbing and Fitness gym Butte, MT 3000 sqft 13 ft
13 Grip Bouldering Grand Junction, CO 2500 sqft 15 ft
14 (tie) Mosaic Boulders Berkeley, CA 2000 sqft 16 ft
14 (tie) The Mountain Project Bozeman, MT 2000 sqft 12 ft
16 Volcanic Rock Gym Kailua, HI 1500 sqft 14 ft
17 Duluth Climbing and Fitness Co-op Duluth, MN 966 sqft 15 ft
18 Asylum San Diego, CA 800 sqft 15 ft

New Canadian Climbing Gyms of 2022

Calgary Climbing Centre – SoCal Calgary, AB bouldering wall
Rose Bloc Greenfield Park, QC bouldering wall
J2 Bouldering London, ON bouldering wall
Bloc Action Mascouche, QC bouldering wall
Pursuit Climbing Stratford, ON ropes and bouldering wall
Allez Up Verdun Verdun, QC bouldering wall

New Mexican Climbing Gyms of 2022

Adamanta Satéllite Naucalpan de Juárez, DF ropes and bouldering wall
Adamanta Puebla Puebla, PU bouldering wall

Behind the Data

This feature article is intended to serve as an extension of Climbing Business Journal’s annual Gyms and Trends report. The research and data collection for 2022 was done largely by Naomi Stevens and Scott Rennak, with writing and editorial duties shared by Naomi Stevens, Joe Robinson and John Burgman. The data is proprietary to CBJ, and a further explanation of the methodology can be found in the 2019 Gyms & Trends report.

Climbing gym growth from 1990 from CBJ gym map

CBJ is dedicated to researching and reporting accurately on the climbing gym industry in North America. Climbing gyms have been proliferating across the world since the early 1990s. The first gyms had flat walls and rudimentary holds, and often possessed inadequate air filtration, lighting, and landing zones. Modern climbing gyms, in contrast, often have vast open spaces with beautiful natural light, intricate wall designs and features, industrial HVAC, and are filled with bright and interesting shapes of plastic, fiberglass and wooden grips. The industry has grown up, and modern climbing gyms now cater to a diverse and expanding clientele.

Thrill Seeker Holds