Nonprofit Training Gym in the Netherlands Finds Its Niche

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image of climber in wildflower gym
Bouldering at Wildflower Climbing Gym
Founded in 2021, Wildflower moved to a new facility last November, but what hasn’t changed is the nonprofit’s focus on providing local climbers a “community-based bouldering gym and training center” that’s “based on equality and sustainability.” (All images courtesy of Wildflower Climbing Gym)

Wildflower Climbing Gym
Leiden, Netherlands

Specs: Wildflower Climbing Gym is a nonprofit bouldering gym in Leiden, Netherlands. Owned and operated by the Wildflower Climbing Foundation—a team consisting of Marloes Vink, Jørg Frankens and professional climber Tiba Vroom—the gym first opened its doors in October 2021. The owners are all Leiden residents and wanted a smaller, training-focused space close to home where they could develop their climbing. “Just like everywhere, there is a massive increase in new bouldering gyms in the Netherlands,” Vroom explained, noting an uptick in larger facilities in particular. The owners saw a niche for Wildflower, a “nonprofit, community-based bouldering gym and training center” designed “for motivated climbers to train and improve,” Vroom said.

OnSite

According to Vroom, finding an available building with the right size, height and open space was difficult. So, when the team discovered their first facility in the project’s early days, they adjusted their construction plans and opening timeline to snag the location. In November 2023, the gym moved to a new facility that now features “spray walls, slabs, a jump system wall, MoonBoard, and of course all the training equipment,” an Instagram post detailed.

The gym also offers a variety of youth programs and fitness classes for climbing and movement training, such as classes for mobility and strength training, women’s MoonBoarding classes, and Capoeira. “These classes make our community really tight, and it is very fun to climb in a motivated group of people with a trainer helping you improve your climbing,” shared Vroom.

Training in one of the fitness areas at Wildflower
A training gym as much as a bouldering gym, Wildflower has dedicated fitness and training areas positioned near the climbing walls throughout the facility.

In operating a nonprofit gym, the owners also aim to put equality and sustainability at the forefront of their day-to-day operations. “When it comes to equality, we have included measures such as making our gym fully gender-neutral, supporting climbing for mentally and physically disabled persons, adjusting our prices for people who have less to spend, etc.,” Vroom said. “This way, we take down barriers for new or existing climbers to get more out of our sport.”

In terms of sustainability, the gym uses green energy and educates climbers on climbing responsibly outdoors. “We organize courses and retreats to teach people how to rock climb while preserving nature, and we share things about it on our social media. We believe that climbing gyms have the responsibility to teach their climbers how to climb well in nature, as they are creating the people who will be going to the crags,” continued Vroom.

Trango Holds Pardners

For others looking to start a nonprofit climbing gym, Vroom recommends staying flexible throughout that process and connected to the member base. “Don’t be afraid to change [the plan] if reality is different,” she said. “Especially with nonprofits, it’s all about community. [The community members] are the ones who carry your business and make your time worthwhile. Make sure to give them the attention that they need and ask them for help if you need it…Listen to your climbers! They are the ones enjoying your gym every day.”

A climbing class at Wildflower
In addition to fitness and climbing classes, Wildflower offers gym-to-crag education intended to “teach people how to rock climb while preserving nature.”

Walls: Owner/Contractor
Flooring: Benky Climbing
CRM Software: Sportivity
Website: wildflowerclimbinggym.org
Instagram: @WildflowerClimbingGym

In Their Words: “Success looks like a place where everybody feels welcome and at home, finds their own way to enjoy climbing to the fullest, and shares this experience with the community. It looks like a place where we (the crew) can do our own training and teach people how to train, as well. The gym has to be able to financially support itself and the trainers that contribute to it. That is what I believe to be a very successful Wildflower.” – Tiba Vroom, Co-Founder and Co-Manager of Wildflower Climbing Gym

Harness Consulting