90s Canadian Gym Plans Big Extension

Guelph Grotto gym before the renovation
The interior of Guelph Grotto before work on the gym extension and remodel began. “Our community deserves a gym that reflects modern climbing,” said owner David Perozzo. (All images courtesy of Guelph Grotto)

Originally opened in 1994, the Guelph Grotto was one of Ontario, Canada’s first climbing gyms. In order to continue growing its member base and expand its programming, the gym recently announced an extensive expansion and remodeling plan that will begin in earnest in November.

“We needed more space. We were constrained,” owner David Perozzo told CBJ. “We found that the size of our current gym, although we are very happy and proud of what we had designed and built, imposed dangers to our clientele on busy evenings. It was a natural time to expand as our city is growing quickly and the community has wanted this project to happen for years. Our community deserves a gym that reflects modern climbing.”

Trango Holds Pardners


The gym’s original footprint was 5,300 square feet. Upon the completion of the expansion, the gym will reopen in December with an additional 7,800 square feet of ground space. The new design will be intentionally more open-concept: “We want to help foster a better community. We made the design an open concept area and more accessible for people with physical disabilities and we are implementing new policies and community outreach to encourage diversity,” General Manager Nick Perozzo said.

Early climbers of Guelph Grotto
Some of the early users of Guelph Grotto. In expanding the facility, the operators hope to continue growing the gym’s community too.

The expanded climbable space will be a mix of rope walls (6,500 square feet) and bouldering surface (3,135 square feet). All top rope walls will be leadable. The expansion will include the addition of a number of new amenities, including a Kilter Board, aerial silk lines for a silks-specific program, a designated children’s section, and a fitness area. A yoga/pilates studio will be unveiled after the expansion is completed, and the installation of air conditioning is scheduled for next summer.

Walls: Walltopia
Flooring: Flashed (with carpet-bonded foam for the top-rope mats)
CRM Software: Rock Gym Pro
Website: www.guelphgrotto.com

Rendering of the Guelph Grotto gym renovation
After the planned extension (depicted here) is completed, Guelph Grotto will have 7,800 more square feet of open gym space to welcome community members on busy nights.

In Their Words: “We opened in a generation when climbing gyms were not common. Although the first few years were challenging and many people felt we would fail, with the strength of our staff and the great community, we were able to create a positive, accepting community. Our success also came from our ability to adapt to trends. We were one of the first in Canada or Ontario to have seamless mats, e-waivers, and aerial silks.”
—David Perozzo, Owner

Harness Consulting