New Bouldering Gym in New Hampshire Is Fully Adjustable

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Slab Walls at GraniteWorks
GraniteWorks opened this month near downtown Keene, New Hampshire, with four adjustable climbing structures and a focus on beginner and advanced climbers alike. (All photos courtesy of GraniteWorks Gym)

GraniteWorks Gym
Keene, New Hampshire

Specs: GraniteWorks, a bouldering-focused gym, opened in Keene, New Hampshire, this February. The 2,400-square-foot gym features approximately 1,200 square feet of climbing, consisting entirely of adjustable walls and boards—three Kilter/Lemur Adjustable Slab walls and one Kilter Board on an adjustable Lemur frame—in addition to hangboards, peg boards and fitness equipment. According to Abigale Hansen, co-owner and General Manager of GraniteWorks, 2023 was the time “a lot of the pieces just fell into place” for the business. She and co-owners Shaun Kozlowski and Scott Hansen found what they believe to be “an absolutely amazing space in a developing work/live community,” Abigale said, with the help of Hilary Harris, the gym’s consultant. “With Hilary, Scott and Abby, and myself on board, we had a great spread in experience and knowledge to make something happen,” Kozlowski said.

OnSite

In 2010, Kozlowski moved to the Keene area and discovered the nearest climbing gym at the time was over an hour away, and he felt Keene had a great community to support climbers. So, Kozlowski began to consider opening a gym in the area. “This looked like a lot of walks around the community for years to locate a space that could work for the community, a few failed attempts to make a space/opportunity happen, multiple rejections from financing firms, [and] giving up,” Abigale described. Kozlowski moved back to Keene in 2020, after a short time away in Connecticut, which sparked a rebirth of the effort. Then, he hired Rockwerx as a consultant and gym builder, was contacted by Harris and notified of an available property, partnered with Abby and Scott Hansen, and began to make GraniteWorks Gym a reality.

Kilter Board at GraniteWorks
In addition to the three Slab walls, GraniteWorks has a 12×12 Kilter Board Original Layout.

After working with Rockwerx, which helped the team complete a demographic study of Keene and the surrounding area, the owners found that “due to the size of the city and the population, Keene was better suited to sustain a bouldering gym.” And part of the impetus behind opting for adjustable walls was a goal of catering to both beginner and advanced climbers, given the space they had to work within. “It can be changed spur of the moment, so if we have more of an advanced crew there that day, and they all want to see a little bit harder [climb], we can make that happen,” Kozlowski said in an article at The Keene Sentinel. “Or, if we have a school crew that needs easier walls, we can make that happen, too,” However, Abigale did note the gym has the potential to expand in the future, if met with a demand for top roping.

GraniteWorks was built in a preexisting building in an industrial part of the city. “This space offered us enough room and head height, it was within walking distance of the downtown [area] and the local college and other schools, and it’s a part of a growing work/live community,” Abigale said. “We feel that there is great opportunity for success in Keene due to the absence of other gyms, as well as close proximity to many colleges, schools and camps.”

TACO Skin Sander from Chalk Cartel

While the gym is up and running currently, getting to that point wasn’t easy for the team. “The permitting process was a bit of a bear, and so is financing,” Abigale explained, noting they also faced supply chain issues. Developing the market for climbers has been another challenge, but GraniteWorks won’t be alone in that respect. Climb Monadnock, another new bouldering-focused gym located near the downtown area, opened in Keene last December. “Thankfully we have a lot of climbers in the area, but developing interest and participation from non-climbers will take some time,” she added. “We have been doing a lot of networking with our community’s Chamber of Commerce to get the word out, and talking with multiple schools to see how we can partner and support their Rec. and P.E. offerings.”

Abigale’s words of advice for gym operators looking to open a facility in 2024: “Don’t do it alone! Get a good team, spend the money for good connections, and work for the good of your community. It’s so much more rewarding.”

GraniteWorks event with Hannah Grimes Center
The GraniteWorks team—pictured at a sneak peek event with board members and staff of the Hannah Grimes Center in town—hope to partner with more local organizations in the Keene area.

Walls: Kilter
Flooring: Kilter
CRM Software: GloFox
Consultant: Rockwerx
Website: graniteworksgym.com
Instagram: @GraniteWorksGym

In Their Words: “All the challenges have been overcome because of a great team, advisors and community we have. That may sound a little cliché and simple, but it’s the reality. Our advisor, Hilary, has been paramount in the permitting and business development of this gym, Kilter has been extremely supportive in the financing process, and our community is so pumped and willing to help with whatever we need to help us get going. There is an old African proverb that says, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone; If you want to go far, go together,’ and we have definitely experienced this!” – Abigale Hansen, GraniteWorks co-owner and General Manager

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