Building Your Dream Gym: 3 Expert Tips From IMPACT Climbing

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Unlike some sports, climbing is as much about setting and achieving a personal challenge as it is about enjoying the experience as it happens. The feel of the grip, the angle of the wall, the placement of the holds and volumes…Every detail, down to the materials, impacts the experience—and we know a thing or two about impact.

Strength, creativity and balance are at the heart of climbing. As climbers ourselves, these are qualities we pride ourselves on bringing to each of our builds. With decades of experience building gyms of all sizes, we know there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.

“Meeting a fellow climber and helping them bring their dream to life—we love that feeling,” says IMPACT CEO Kyle Wilson. “IMPACT is made up of both climbers and craftspeople because we’ve built a lot of gyms. We know how important it is to partner with experts who have the talent and experience to help you succeed. Every single person on our team is just as invested in your project as you are.”

Opening a gym is a significant investment. The majority of gym owners who choose to go down this road share our passion for climbing and want to make it their life’s work, like us. That’s why we don’t just build walls, we also help kickstart businesses by offering consulting packages, including a financial calculator that projects return on investment.

However, there’s a lot to know before deciding to make the jump. Here are three key pieces of advice we can offer anyone interested in building their own climbing gym.

IMPACT walls at Aspire Climbing Whitby
Whatever the size or stage of the gym project, IMPACT has the services to help make the dream a reality, from business consulting to full facility design. (Photo of IMPACT walls at Aspire Climbing Whitby; all images courtesy of IMPACT Climbing)

1. Start with a Scrupulous Partner

From figuring out finances to finding a space, there’s a lot to know about starting a climbing gym. As with picking a climbing partner, building your business will be a lot smoother when you work with someone who truly has your back. Look for a partner who understands your vision, as well as the business landscape, and can help you balance your priorities with practicalities.

The right partner should:

  • Understand the scope of this undertaking, and have the knowledge and expertise to guide you through all the stages of planning your project.
  • Combine creativity with knowledge of industry standards to ensure safe, strong and visually stunning walls.
  • Create custom designs to suit your space—not cookie-cutter solutions.
  • Use high quality materials so that your walls are built to last.
  • Stay with you every step of the way, even after your initial project is wrapped, offering warranties to ensure the longevity of your gym.

Many of our clients, including Pursuit Climbing in Ontario, Canada, started with our business plan, ultimately launching successful gyms, and we’re proud to have supported them through the entire journey.

IMPACT carpentry
“IMPACT is made up of both climbers and craftspeople because we’ve built a lot of gyms. We know how important it is to partner with experts who have the talent and experience to help you succeed,” says Wilson.

2. Climb Corners, Don’t Cut Them

Skilled handiwork is key to a solid climbing experience—literally. Building strong walls with the best materials, like reinforced steel and strong birch hardwood, ensures that your walls are made to last. When you craft a strong skeleton using sturdy materials, you can feel the difference—your walls won’t bend or flex, so climbers can focus on solving the challenge. Attention to detail, from the colours you choose to the design of the volumes, is key to encouraging climbers to keep coming back. That’s why IMPACT offers total customization, providing completely unique designs for every project.

Personal preference also plays an important role in climbing, so it’s critical to take even the smallest details into consideration in your design. Textures are a perfect example of where preference often comes into play. For instance, IMPACT offers two unique proprietary textures, developed with a variety of preferences and uses in mind. VelvetGripTM, our most popular surface, provides the perfect blend of grip and friction without being overly abrasive, so it works well for a variety of climbing areas. TalonGripTM, on the other hand, is more abrasive for increased friction—perfect for slabs or flat walls.

Skilled handiwork at IMPACT
A climbing wall is only as good as the professionals and parts used to build it, which is why IMPACT relies on experts in their craft and high-quality components every step of the way.

3. There’s Always Another Peak

Don’t rest on your laurels—or your rocks. Regularly reset your routes to keep the climbs challenging and enhance them with new volumes, but don’t be afraid to think even bigger. We always tell clients to start with a dream you can grow into. If you start with a modest goal, and leave some space for expansion, you can always build upon your existing features and programming later to draw in a wider audience.

The climbing industry is continually evolving, so working with a partner who has historic knowledge of both the industry and the climbing landscape, and who stays on top of trends, is invaluable when it’s time to upgrade or expand.

 

Interested in learning more about building your own climbing gym? We can help—reach out for a free consultation.

 


This story was paid for by the sponsor and does not necessarily represent the views of the Climbing Business Journal editorial team.
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