Holiday Gifts for Your Gym Staff

Holiday gifts for your climbing gym staff

December is here, the holiday season has arrived, and you still need to get your employees holiday gifts. Don’t worry, it’s not too late.

You might ask yourself, “Can’t we just pay them minimum wage, deduct taxes, and wish them a happy holiday?” Before you answer, take a moment to walk around the gym and remember the important role your staff play in the success of the business. They probably deserve a little something extra this year-end.

holiday cash

Without a doubt, the ultimate holiday gift for any employee would be more pay, more benefits and better working conditions. Don’t let doodads and gadgets take the place of true enhancements for your staff, give back in a more impactful way all year round if you can.

Still, modest add-ons to year-end bonuses can help improve morale in a small way, especially after the busy holiday season. While the list of tangible trinkets is seemingly endless, this holiday feature explores a wide variety of creative and useful gifts for your core employees.

Go beyond a box of chocolates this year. Continue reading for insider gift ideas your employees will appreciate and use.

Holiday gifts for your climbing gym staff

Routesetters Create Your Product

As the backbone of any climbing gym, routesetters labor away to create your primary product: the routes themselves. The value they contribute should be recognized all year round, and you can start 2020 on the right hold by listening to their feedback.

According to Grant Farmer, gym manager of First Ascent (Chicago, IL), “nothing drives setters crazier than the music selection of the desk staff. It’s a nice gesture to let them jam to their own tunes while getting the job done. Good luck trying to get their attention when they’re jamming out though,” explained Farmer.

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Go the extra mile this holiday season and upgrade standard hearing protection to active noise cancelling, Bluetooth headphones by Cowin for your setters. Head setter of Ascent Studio (Fort Collins, CO), Roy Quanstrom, agreed: “If the gym allows, a dope pair of Bluetooth headphones is the ultimate setter gift.” Using wireless active noise-cancelling headsets or headphones, versus wired varieties, reduces clutter so they can concentrate and move freely on the job.

Chalkbags by Pure Grit and Crimp Chimps
Images: Pure Grit and Crimp Chimps

When it comes to forerunning, setters always appreciate a designated “setters only” chalk bucket or bag. Distinguish your ‘setter bag’ from the pile in lost-and-found by customizing it. Remember that Spongebob chalk bag you saw on IFSC TV? Build your own creation at Pure Grit or Crimp Chimps. Show appreciation for your setters by customizing each chalk bag with the setter’s name and a bit of their personality. Even photos can be printed on them.

Take it one step further and stuff that chalkbag like a stocking with Rino Skin Solutions, training tools such as the Metolius GripSaver, and a boar’s hair Sublime brush. Almost every climber on your staff would enjoy this gift.

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Coaches Build Customers & Community

Your coaches condition your members, breed the elite youth teams, and probably can beat you in arm-wrestling. Show you appreciate their dedication by getting them something nice too.

Z-Bolt laser pointers can be personalized
Image: Z-Bolt Premium Laser Products

Commonly purchased for the entertainment of cat owners, coaches also love laser pointers. That secret has been out for a while, but First Ascent might be on their way to starting a new trend. “Consider getting it custom engraved with your logo and their name. Then if it’s lost, it can find its way back to its owner,” said Farmer.

Laser pointers are incredibly helpful for instructing athletes high off the ground, but how many climbing coaches have personalized or engraved laser pointers? Order an engraved laser pointer here online for only $38 dollars, or take one to a local jeweler near you to get it engraved. Be sure yours has an infrared filter to protect the eyes, and always use them wisely.

Digital hangboard systems courtesy The Beta Angel Project
Digital hangboard systems reviewed by The Beta Angel Project.

As training and technology continue to fuse, digital hangboards are quickly becoming the rage. There are various setups, differing in price, which The Beta Angel Project assesses in detail here.

These systems can give your coaches the gift of new data-driven insights, including force exerted on particular grips and work-rest ratio. Additionally, they act as logbooks and assist coaches by recommending protocols based on strength assessments and real numbers.

Looking for something slightly more budget-friendly? Give your coaches an online training course subscription to help them learn some new tricks. Both and Adventure U / Climbing Magazine offer courses with pro climbers and coaches that target specific weaknesses and include videos and interactive components.

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Front Desk Staff Are Your Public Face

Your front desk staff are the face of your climbing gym. They’re the first and last thing customers see.  Within the team you have your early-bird openers, your regulars that practically live in the gym, and your 11pm closers who stay late. Treat them all right.

While everyone can benefit from a new alarm clock, both your business and your opener might find this gift particularly valuable. Invest in the extra-loud vibrating alarm clock for heavy sleepers by Homtime – it vibrates wirelessly and includes an LED wake-up light.

Nite Ize gadgets
Image: Nite Ize

Your closers are equally important. By the end of the night they’re antsy to get home. After completing all the tasks required to close the gym, they still need to find their car in the dark. Help them out with a new headlamp, sweet keychain, or other cool Nite Ize gadget.

You likely also have that one front desk employee who picks up almost every open shift, knows the ins and outs of your POS software, and spends a fair amount of time looking at a computer screen analyzing check-in data. Troy Singh-Derawa, front desk manager of The Spot Bouldering Gym (Boulder, CO) explained, “when working the desk, I use RGP (our POS and check-in software) to run powerful analytics. After hours of staring at that screen, my eyes feel it.”

A pair of stylish blue light glasses from Zenni Optical, beginning at $15.95, would prevent your important desk employees from getting “fry eye,” and function as a new piece of swag for the face of your gym. More expensive blue light screen protectors from Ocushield, starting at $33.33 (plus shipping), would do the trick too and benefit staff with existing eye ware as well.

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