Bloomberg Jumps on Climbing Bandwagon

BKB’s Newest location in Long Island City, N.Y. Photo: Bloomberg

Bloomberg Business is the latest major news publication to sing the praises of indoor climbing businesses. They profile enterpreneurs using Brooklyn Boulder’s “work-play” space.

When Joe Lemay, a 38-year-old developer in Boston, decided to leave his corporate job to launch a startup, he opted against a permanent office. Instead, Lemay spends his days at Brooklyn Boulders (BKB) Somerville, a rock-climbing gym designed to double as a co-working haven for entrepreneurs. “I’ll be sitting there coding and get up from my chair, go over to a squat rack, and do 10 reps on the rack, then come back to my computer,” Lemay says. “You can always be in the mindset of being active and productive at the same time.”

Lemay’s startup, RocketBook, produces a line of digitally enabled notebooks. The venture might not have been possible without Lemay’s time on the wall: It was during an epiphany after a midday climb that Lemay realized his company’s technology would be better suited for smaller notebooks than big whiteboards. “Climbing forces you to be completely present in the moment when you’re hanging onto a wall, trying to make that next move without falling,” he says. “It gives your subconscious its own space to think about things. When you come back, you have different ideas, angles, and perspectives you couldn’t have before.”

The story also makes a nod to the industry’s strong growth, comparing it to the explosion of Crossfit boxes across the country in the last five years.

Indoor rock-climbing is a quietly expanding exercise industry ripe for a Crossfit-like explosion. Climbing gyms boasted revenues of $151 million in 2014, up from $147 million in 2013, according to IBISWorld. That figure is expected to hit $162 million by 2019. The number of climbing gyms in the U.S. increased by 9 percent last year, with a total of 353 facilities; California is the fastest-growing state market.

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