New Spanish Gym Designed To Be a “Prism Beyond Sports”

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Bouldering at Sputnik Climbing Legazpi
Earlier this year, Sputnik Climbing opened its fourth facility in Spain—third in Madrid—with the Legazpi location, a bouldering, fitness and social space designed to “invite users to come in and repeat.” (All images courtesy of Sputnik Climbing)

Sputnik Climbing Legazpi
Madrid, Spain

Specs: Sputnik Climbing is a Spanish climbing gym chain that came into existence in October 2016 with the Alcobendas location. According to Fernando Hernandez, CEO and co-founder of Sputnik, he, his family and his friends decided to “manage an indoor climbing gym, similar to the facilities that are being developed in other European countries—France, Germany, Austria—and not yet in Spain.” After several years of working as a mountain guide and teacher, Hernandez committed to the career pivot, and the Alcobendas location became a reality.

Retail chalk from Chalk Cartel

It wasn’t long before the Sputnik Climbing operators started getting to work on the next project. “After almost two years of successfully operating our first facility, we decided that there is an opportunity for growth in the sector in Madrid, and we began to imagine a bigger project at an international level,” Hernandez said. “We are immersed in a growth plan that proposes the opening of one or two centers a year in different strategic locations in provincial capitals throughout the Spanish geography.” In a three-year span, Sputnik opened the Las Rozas location in October 2020, Berango in October 2022, and Legazpi on July 27th of this year.

Sputnik Legazpi's auto belay area
In addition to 180+ bouldering problems, Sputnik Climbing Legazpi has 40 routes on 6-meter roped walls that can be climbed with the gym’s 16 auto belays.

The Legazpi facility was built in an industrial warehouse, drawing a “triangle in Madrid with the other Sputnik facilities, Alcobendas and Las Rozas,” Hernandez described, with the goal being to provide users with “a Sputnik near home” throughout the city. However, seeking a downtown location came with other challenges: There were few suitable buildings with the desired 3,000-square-meter space and sufficient height for climbing walls; potential renter competition was high; and the building had to be available at a reasonable price. Eventually, a former logistics warehouse became available, and the Sputnik operators were able to transform the facility into a “prism beyond sports,” in the words of Hernandez.

La Cantina de Legazpi Restaurant
La Cantina de Legazpi Restaurant is owned and operated by Sputnik and remains open later than the climbing portion of the facility, encouraging visitors to stick around after their sessions.

Sputnik Legazpi is a 3,200-square-meter facility with bouldering, auto belay climbing and multiple training boards. Besides a competition bouldering circuit, the gym offers classes, youth programming, family activities, and family, fitness, yoga and coworking areas. “We understand that climbing facilities are becoming more and more meeting spaces, something similar to a social club where the community meets and participates,” Hernandez explained. The facility was crafted to “invite users to come and repeat,” said Hernandez, in part by adding the La Cantina de Legazpi Restaurant attached, which has over 100 tables and extended hours compared to the climbing area.

For other climbing gym operators looking to create successful single locations and/or chains, Hernandez recommends searching for a site that is big enough to fit the vision, defining the company culture, and drawing up a good operation plan. “There are no magic formulas,” he said, “[only] investment in people and a lot of work.”

Approach

Walls: Walltopia
Flooring: Walltopia
CRM Software: Deporwin
Website: sputnikclimbing.com/rocodromo-madrid/legazpi/
Instagram: @SputnikClimbing

In Their Words: “Our business is to make people happy. We take care of our users, and we are very careful with details. We trust in building an honest business with all participants: users, workers and partners. We invest a lot of time, effort and money into making that happen. People perceive it, understand it and appreciate it. It may not be the model with the highest percentage of profitability, but it is a very consistent model that shows that a balanced model can be made within the climbing industry, where the bet is on building a solid brand, with a clear difference in the service model perceived by the user and the working/personal conditions of our team of workers. We are the only company in the sector that has modified its collective agreement to work four days a week instead of five. The loyalty of our users (the Sputnik family) accompanies us, and we are very grateful for it.” – Fernando Hernandez, Sputnik CEO and co-founder

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