“America’s Oldest Gym” Adds a New Location

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Photo: The original Vertical Club location in the mid-1980s. © Vertical World
Photo: The original Vertical Club location in the mid-1980s. © Vertical World

Vertical World North
Lynnwood, WA

Specs: 20,000-square-foot facility includes top ropes and lead walls, a bouldering area, cardio equipment, and ample lounge space to accommodate the market around Puget Sound. A 9,000-square-foot mezzanine overlooks the gym’s floor. The new facility joins other Vertical World locations—in Seattle and Redmond.

Vertical World first opened its doors in 1987—called Vertical Club at the time—by founders Dan Cauthorn and Rich Johnston. Although the gym moved to several different facilities around Seattle over the years, Vertical World is widely recognized as “America’s First Climbing Gym.” The new Vertical World North location adds to that legacy.

Additionally, Vertical World was an early adopter of a gym-based youth team. Johnston told CBJ: “That whole thing of developing a youth program was really important to me back then—I thought it was not a money-maker, but just a cultural thing that we needed to do…that the kids would really benefit from a program like that. That was many years ago, but that’s probably one of the parts of the business that I am proudest of.”

Photo: A look inside the new Vertical World North facility. © Vertical World

Walls: Elevate Climbing Walls (a company that Johnston also started in the late 1980s)
Flooring: Asana and Cascade Specialty
CRM Software: Approach
Website: north.verticalworld.com

In Their Words:“We put a lot of time and energy into the environmental psychology of the gym’s interior design and lighting. We wanted to make sure it’s something that people have never seen before. The look, the feel, the textures, the way the customers interact with the space—that was really important to us. We didn’t want to repeat what we did [in the Seattle location]. We have a lot of fun with our vision of the company and we try to do something unique every time we do anything.”
— Rich Johnston, Founder