New Texas Gym Combines Guiding, Coffee, Climbing

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Sessions Climbing + Fitness walls
Ten years in the making, Sessions opened in El Paso this year with roped climbing and bouldering terrain and a vision of serving the area’s outdoor climbing community and new climbers alike. (All images courtesy of Sessions Climbing + Fitness)

Sessions Climbing + Fitness
El Paso, Texas

Specs: Sessions Climbing + Fitness, a 14,900-square-foot mixed discipline climbing facility, recently opened in El Paso, Texas. Albert Alvarez, Sessions’ co-owner and General Manager who is also from El Paso, developed his enthusiasm for climbing at Hueco Tanks in college. “Over the years I had an itch to share my passion for the sport with the El Paso community,” he said. He began actively working towards that goal in 2011, but some unexpected hardships forced the project to start over from scratch. Through mutual friends he eventually met Nicholas Villalobos, Sessions’ other co-owner who shared the same vision for the gym, and got to work designing its second iteration. “We began construction in August of 2021 and opened our doors on August 26th, 2022,” Alvarez said. “It was a long ten-year journey, but we’re here!”

 

As a metropolitan area with a large outdoor climbing community and only one other climbing gym―The Cave Climbing Gym, which opened in 2016―Alvarez believed there was room for more indoor climbing in El Paso. “Many cities the size of El Paso already support three or more gyms. It was just essential and common sense to bring a state-of-the-art facility to the Sun City. And even better, it just so happens to be my hometown.” The owners eyed the west side of the city due to the growth in the region and nearby highways that made it easy to access. After being unable to find a suitable building in the area, they decided to build Sessions ground up.

Sessions Climbing + Fitness features 56-foot lead, top rope and auto belay walls, as well as speed climbing and bouldering terrain. Training options include a 12×12 Kilter Board, campus boards, hangboards, a yoga/fitness studio, and a full-service fitness gym. Classes cover pilates, aero yoga and core conditioning, and the gym also has a café and pro shop to visit after a session.

Routesetting on Sessions' roped walls
Setting on 56-foot climbing walls is all in a day’s work at Sessions, which also has a section of walls dedicated to speed climbing.

Guiding services―which were noted in the gym’s early announcements―have also been incorporated from the outset. “After my first iteration of the gym failed, I pivoted and created an outdoor guiding company in the Southwest,” Alvarez stated. “Our roots are in outdoor guiding and tours. We are also very mindful of the impact we may have on the outdoor climbing environment locally and want to ensure that our users transition to outdoor climbing in a way that they become stewards of the land.” He recommends that gym operators who are looking to begin guiding programs should start small and work with landowners and federal park organizations “to ensure you are following all the rules and regulations.”

Also core to the owners’ hopes for Sessions is making the gym’s services more accessible to the El Paso community. Families earning less than $55K a year, for example, can receive a 50% discount on a family membership through the Climbing Together program. And the gym has a Noe Perez Scholarship fund which offers free membership and transportation to children participating at Ciudad Nueva, “a local non-profit that works towards helping underprivileged youth,” said Alvarez.

Having fun at Sessions
Sessions was built to be a bridge between indoor and outdoor climbing and a space that all members of the local community could enjoy.

Walls: Vertical Solutions
Flooring: Vertical Solutions
CRM Software: Capitan
Website: www.sessionsclimbing.com
Instagram: @sessionsclimbing

In Their Words: “We’re building a community, not just a gym. The Southwest has always been filled with passionate climbers, but there has never been a place [like this] where they could connect and bond with climbers of all shapes, sizes, ages, and skill level. From the start our goal has been to create a community for these climbers as well as anyone looking to break into the sport. When you come to our gym, you get the small gym feel where everyone is close, everyone talks [to each other], and the staff know your name. That’s what we feel truly makes us different.” – Albert Alvarez, Sessions Climbing + Fitness co-owner and General Manager