New Virginia Gym Finds Room for a Bit of Everything

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Rapp Rocks facility and founders
Rapp Rocks founders Nic Wolfe (left) and Adam Cox (right) only had a 5,000-square-foot space to work with, but they found a way to pack in roped walls, bouldering walls, and a 12-by-12-foot training board in their new full-service gym. (All images courtesy of Rapp Rocks)

Rapp Rocks
Fredericksburg, VA

Specs: Rapp Rocks, a mixed discipline climbing gym in Fredericksburg, Virginia, opened to the public in April this year, after a year of planning. The climbing type was debated at length, but founders Adam Cox and Nic Wolfe eventually decided their gym―which is named after a local river crag―would best serve their community by offering both roped climbing and bouldering. Fredericksburg is within an hour drive from several climbing gyms in neighboring cities and previously had a family fun center with a climbing wall, but the city lacked the nearby, serious climbing environment that Wolfe and Cox wanted. On the one hand, a full-service gym could help introduce new climbers to more aspects of the sport, but a larger facility would come with its own set of financial and logistical hurdles. “We decided to keep things as small as we could while still satisfying the pre-existing demand in the area,” Cox said about the decision.

 

The building search wasn’t easy either, given that the founders still wanted to have enough room for some additional amenities and ensure the gym and its climbing community would be easily accessible. “Trying to find a building within your square footage range, with enough parking spaces, high enough ceilings, good street view, and close proximity to residential areas is just about impossible,” Cox explained. Fortunately, they found a 5,000-square-foot space with 60-80 parking spaces, 25-ft ceilings, a cross-fit next door, and a brewery across the street. The gym is also close to several neighborhoods and the local country club.

OnSite walls and Kilter Board at Rapp Rocks
Rapps Rocks’ climbing terrain may not be plentiful, but it has served the purpose of offering a wide variety of climbing and accompanying programming to the local community.

Despite limited space, the founders still found room for a small gear shop, a hangboard area, and a Kilter Board. (Kilter holds also comprised the bulk of the gym’s opening set). And alongside their youth team programming, Rapp Rocks provides homeschool meetups for children each week, since there’s a substantial homeschooled population in town. “We want to be somewhere you can hang out, drop your kids off, do some work, get a workout in, eat some good food, and feel at home,” said Cox. “Being so young, we knew that starting small and expanding was a smart move, and that decision is definitely proving to be wise.”

Youth programming at the gym
In addition to youth team programming, Rapp Rocks also prides itself on offering weekly homeschool meetups in a city where homeschooling is quite common.

Walls: Onsite
Flooring: Onsite
CRM Software: Approach
Website: www.rapprocksclimbing.com
Instagram: @rapprocksclimbing

In Their Words: “Being as small as we are, we can interact with everyone in the gym at once. Even when we were only three weeks in, I already knew dozens of people’s names when they walked in, and the entire gym cheered for kids as they reached the top of the wall for the first time. Seemingly overnight, we had created an encouraging, positive environment that is without a doubt changing lives on a daily basis…Every community is unique and deserves the irreplaceable benefits that a climbing gym can bring, so we feel very grateful to be the ones who can provide that to ours…Every human is unique, and our collection of them can’t be replicated or replaced. I think that’s what makes every gym special.” – Adam Cox, co-founder of Rapp Rocks