Danish Gym Continues to Expand, Nears Completion of 9th and 10th Locations

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image of aarhus boulders
image of aarhus boulders
After opening its first bouldering gym in 2010 and adding seven more since then, the Boulders climbing gym chain in Denmark isn’t letting up the gas, with two more gym projects soon to be completed and another handful on the way. (All photos courtesy of Boulders)

Boulders
Denmark

Specs: Boulders, a Danish bouldering gym chain with eight open facilities, is planning to complete two new gyms this summer. Founded in 2009 by Frank Vilstrup and Søren Clausen, Boulders is now owned by Vilstrup, Martin Petersen (since 2014) and Ole Mørk (since 2019).

OnSite

In 2005, “Boulders started as an ambitious project under the name ‘CPH Blocs,’ with the aim of creating climbing facilities for climbing enthusiasts,” Petersen told CBJ. “They worked to find suitable premises, but committing to the project was a challenging task.” From 2006 to 2009, Vilstrup organized mobile climbing competitions constructed on Abekatten containers for multiple climbing disciplines, from standard climbing comps to deep water soloing. Then, in 2009, the company signed a five-year lease for its first gym, repurposing a former lamp factory.

image of hvidovre boulders
“From 2020, we have opened five more gyms,” Petersen said—including the pictured Hvidovre location—“and we are looking at an increased rate of expansion from this point on.”

That first gym—formerly called Copenhagen Boulders, but now just Boulders—opened in 2010, followed by the Aarhus Nord facility in 2014 and the Wichmandsgade facility in 2017. “From 2020, we have opened five more gyms, and we are looking at an increased rate of expansion from this point on,” Petersen said. Expansion has always been the goal for Boulders, Petersen explained, but the business previously lacked the finances and organization to expand. “Now we do, and we are stepping on the gas,” he stated.

When choosing a new facility, finding a suitable building has been the hardest part for the team, since the requisite building height, size and location can be hard to come by. “If it was easier,” Petersen said, “we would already have a handful more gyms.”

Elevate Climbing Walls

Petersen added that the Boulders gyms are designed with sustainability in mind. The climbing walls are built with bamboo panels, for instance, and the team uses products and services from local hardware stores and carpenters. “We also exclusively use green electricity and serve organic drinks and snacks in our cafes,” Petersen continued.

All Boulders gyms—planned and open—are bouldering gyms, the bulk of which have workout areas, Kilter Boards, spray walls, children’s areas, and lounge space. “We cater to all stages of a climber’s life, while having a good time in good company,” said Petersen. In November 2023, Boulders opened its eighth gym (Amager Landevej), built in a preexisting facility in Kastrup. The 1,650-square-meter (5,413-square-foot) industrial building features walls reaching 4.5 meters (15 feet) which were built by local carpenters.

image of aarhus city spray walls
Most Boulders gyms, including the pictured Aarhus City facility, offer a variety of spray walls and system boards catering to different climbing abilities.

Boulders’ gym number nine, expected to open early this summer, is being constructed in an existing facility in the center of Aarhus. “We already have a gym very close by, but it was completely packed with people. We would like to capture that market and give everyone a better experience, without too many people,” Petersen said. The Aarhus gym will feature Walltopia walls in an 1,850-square-meter (6,070-square-foot) space, with similar amenities to those found in other Boulders locations, but scaled up to fit the “second biggest [gym] in Denmark,” said Petersen.

Later in the summer, Boulders is set to open gym number ten, which is being built in an existing 2,000-square-meter (6,562sqft) facility in the central/western part of Copenhagen. According to Petersen, climbers in the area “need proper climbing facilities!” He noted the team is “constantly asked by people in those area codes” about a new climbing gym, “and now we will deliver.” Petersen added that, with the next two gyms already signed “and a handful more on the way,” the team is “really making progress this year and the next two.”

image of hvidovre desk
When planning a new gym project, Petersen recommends thoroughly learning about the city’s market prior to construction, to ensure climbers are receiving the amenities and services they want most.

Walls: Owner/Contractor; Walltopia (local carpenters for the Amager Landevej gym; Walltopia for the two Summer 2024 gyms)
Flooring: Benky; Walltopia (Benky for the Amager Landevej gym; Walltopia for the two Summer 2024 gyms)
CRM Software: “Cannot disclose”
Website: boulders.dk

In Their Words: “Learn the market. What is it your customers really want? It is probably not the same as you. What angles of climbing wall? What type of routes? What types of memberships? They are funding the adventure and the business, not you. So, give them what they want.” – Martin Petersen, Co-Owner of Boulders

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