CBJ press releases are written by the sponsor and do not represent the views of the Climbing Business Journal editorial team.
Sportrock Climbing Centers Gaithersburg, MarylandSpecs: Sportrock Climbing Centers, a DC-Maryland-Virginia (DMV) area climbing gym operator, recently announced a planned expansion into Gaithersburg, Maryland. According to Jeffrey Shor, the Director of Marketing at Sportrock, the founders of Sportrock met while training at one of the original indoor climbing walls in the U.S., affectionately known as Zich’s Garage. Zich’s parents allowed their son Steve to talk them into letting him and his friends cover their detached garage in Chevy Chase with plywood and glue-on rocks to create a low-tech climbing wall for training during the damp D.C.-area winters. Eventually the glue was replaced with t-nuts, the rocks with early climbing holds, and the climbers started establishing first ascents at the New River Gorge and other nearby crags. “The demand outgrew the space,” Sportrock’s website details, leading to the opening of the first Sportrock location in Rockville, Maryland, in 1994. Although expansion wasn’t the operators’ original goal, Sportrock eventually opened additional gyms in the neighboring Virginia suburbs of Alexandria and Sterling, and those facilities have both been expanded multiple times. In 2006, the original Rockville location closed when Sportrock lost the lease. Since the closure, the business has been looking for a suitable Maryland location. With a planned opening of the Gaithersburg location at the end of 2023, the owners see coming back to Maryland “as a full circle moment,” Shor said. Walltopia Flooring: Strati CRM Software: RGP Website: www.sportrock.com/rio Instagram: @sportrock In Their Words: “Since I became President in 2005, Sportrock has not deviated from who we are: climbing gyms For Climbers, By Climbers. We stay true to who we are—the local climbing gym focused on great routesetting, authenticity, a community orientation, and a place for climbers to practice, train and develop their skills as rock climbers—and we always will. We’re active members in our communities, we climb at our gyms, and it’s a palpable sense that you get walking through the facilities and being part of the communities.” – Lillian Chao-Quinlan, Executive Chairperson of Sportrock’s Board of Directors
It’s Q1 preorder time!Get all the shapes in your favorite colors. Order by September 27th.
The NEW Bold website is here!And it’s a lovely one! To place a preorder just order what you want — no need to limit yourself to what’s in stock. You can choose any shape, from any brand, in any color. Make sure to create a wholesale account to get gym discounts. And don’t forget to get that order in by September 27. www.boldclimbing.com What’s this Q1 Preorder thing? Each quarter we bring in big stock shipments from our brands. Place your order before September 27th and it will get a free ride over the Atlantic! You will receive these shapes in Q1 2024 (January – March). Choose ANY of your favorite macros, volumes, colors, and textures. It doesn’t matter what we have in stock. Timelines: 360 produced shapes should arrive to you by December (at the latest March). Blocz produced shapes should arrive to you in January (at the latest March). * If you have a certain deadline contact us for more details. How to order? Order any shape on our website and we will take care of the rest. You will receive these shapes in Q1 2024 (January – March). On the website shopping cart you can choose to have all your shapes/products shipped together or seperately when available. Email email@example.com for more info. Deadline September 27th! Order Now
CBJ press releases are written by the sponsor and do not represent the views of the Climbing Business Journal editorial team.
Annually revisiting planning and budgets for the coming year is an essential step to creating a sustainable business.Make next year your best year ever by building a plan with your colleagues that will bring clarity and alignment to the team’s work as well as empower everyone’s performance. In this session we will cover how to collectively build an annual roadmap that will keep your organization aligned to what matters most. Ready to learn more? Join us Thursday, September 21st at 11:00am MDT for “Make Next Year Your Best Ever”. This is the latest webinar in our Climbing Gym Management Series with host Gavin Heverly of Rise Above Consulting. CBJ Members: RSVP Here For Free Access** Not a Member? Purchase Access Here for $59
Miss our previous webinars?No, you didn’t! Recordings of our earlier sessions are accessible 24/7 with a Plus or Premium membership or individual purchases of $59. Here’s what some attendees said: “There were definitely a lot of takeaways, which we are already implementing into our processes.” Andrew Kozak, Vice President, Sportrock “Fantastic webinar! We’re going to share with other staff who couldn’t attend.” Patrick Bodnar, Marketing Manager, The Spot “Really well done and put together nicely!” “Dense with information.” More webinar excerpts here **Live webinars are offered as a FREE member benefit to staff of CBJ member businesses at the Biz level and above. Each staff member must RSVP, although managers can RSVP for multiple staff. The on-demand video recordings are available to staff at Plus or Premium member businesses and individual purchasers. Questions about accessing these recordings? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Not a member yet? No problem, RSVP and be sure to enroll 48hrs before each webinar:
Previous webinarsBuild Programs Your Customers Will Love Sales Strategies To Launch Strong And Keep Growing Building Loyalty Through Customer Service Design Hiring and Retaining Your All-Star Team Setting Your Culture Up For Success Launching Your First Climbing Gym
Just a few thoughtsAn interesting mix of new stuff this week. Great links for setters – podcasts, a video, a photo contest, new shapes. A deep dive on neuroplasticity. CEC kicks off it’s season. And two very cool Kickstarters that met their goal but it’s not too late to support. See The Freshest Job Posts Here
Community & Culture
- Are We Born to Climb? (D Scott Borden, The Climbing Zine)
- Podcast: Alannah Yip Sounds the Alarm on Eating Disorders (The RunOut)
- Kickstarter: Ultra Portable Crash Pad (Sick Sequence)
- Kickstarter: Finger Bouldering (Finger Bouldering)
- Sep 8-9: World Cup Koper 2023 (IFSC)
- Adam Ondra and Janja Garnbret Win Legendary Rock Master Comp (Aaron Pardy, Gripped)
- Launch of the 2023-2024 CEC Competition Season (Christiane Marceau, CEC)
- Entries now open for the British Lead, Speed and Paraclimbing Championships 2023 (Zoe Spriggins, BMC)
- RFP Hosting Facilities – 2024-2025 Season (Christiane Marceau, CEC)
- Video: Using Depth & Angles in Setting – Route setting insights, tips & tricks (Beta Routesetting)
- Podcast: Routesetting in the Age of Social Media – Stefanie Myr (CBJ, Holly Yu Tung Chen)
- Podcast: Max Maisonneuve – Two Worlds Collide – Music and Route Setting (The Dihedral)
- Route Setter Magazine Photo Contest 2023 (8a.nu)
- New Climbing Holds and Volumes of September 2023 (CBJ)
- The 10 Principles of Neuroplasticity Will Help You Hike Your Project (Evan Schneider, Outside)
- The Essential Push-Up, Why It Helps And How To Do It Correctly (Hayden Carpenter, Outside)
- Video: How to Use Deloads to Climb Harder & Reduce Injuries (Hooper’s Beta)
- Video: How To Climb Harder Without Getting Stronger – ft. Eric Hörst (Lattice Training)
Comp Team Coach Elite Team Coach The Spot Colorado “Looking for an exciting opportunity to share your passion for climbing and shape the next generation of champions? Look no further than The Spot Gym! We’re seeking experienced climbing coaches to join our team and help us take our competitive climbing programs to the next level.”
JOB SEEKER TIPS:How to List Education on a Resume in 2023 By Eric Ciechanowski “Including the year you graduated and earned your degree is optional. Adding the year hints at how old you are, which can lead to hiring bias issues. You should skip the graduation year if you’re over 40+ years old. You should include the expected graduation year if you’re working on a degree but have yet to graduate.” Read the full article here
LATEST JOB OPENINGSSee all current jobs // Post your job FT = full time PT = part time
|RECENT/TOP JOB POSTS AT CBJ||LOCATION||TYPE|
|Assistant Manager at High Point||Huntsville, AL||FT – manager|
|Head Coach at Alta||Gilbert, AZ||FT – coach|
|Routesetter at Movement||San Francisco, CA||FT – routesetter|
|Floor Manager at Gripstone||Colorado Springs, CO||FT – manager|
|Comp Team Coach at The Spot||Golden, CO||PT – coach|
|Gym Director at Movement||Golden, CO||FT – manager|
|Elite Team Coach at The Spot||Louisville, CO||PT – coach|
|Head Routesetter at Bigfoot||Morganton, NC||FT – routesetter|
|Head Routesetter/Assistant Coach at Gravity Vault||Chatham, NJ||FT – coach|
|Head Setter/Assistant Coach at Gravity Vault||Chatham, NJ||FT – coach|
|Assistant Head Setter and Comp Team Coach at Gravity||Hamilton, ON||FT – coach, routesetter|
|Director of SRPI at Sportrock||Alexandria, VA||FT – coach, manager|
Career Centers of Climbing Industry
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/access-fund.png||Access Fund||https://www.accessfund.org/inside-access-fund/careers||organization||USA - CO|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/wi-adventure-rock.png||Adventure Rock||https://adventurerock.com/jobs/||facility||USA - WI|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/alpine-climbing-adventure-fitness.png||Alpine Climbing Adventure Fitness||https://climbatalpine.com/about/careers/||facility||USA - CA|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/american-alpine-club.png||American Alpine Club||https://americanalpineclub.org/jobs||organization||USA - CO|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/ascend.png||ASCEND Climbing||https://www.ascendclimbing.com/ascend-jobs||facility||USA - OH, PA|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/ascent-studio.png||Ascent Studio||https://ascentstudio.com/employment/||facility||USA - CO|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/bonfire-collective.png||Bonfire Collective||https://thebonfirecollective.com/team/||service||USA - CO|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/bouldering-project.png||Bouldering Project (pick location)||https://boulderingproject.com/||facility||USA - MN, TX, UT, WA|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/ab-calgary-climbing-centre.jpg||Calgary Climbing Centre||https://calgaryclimbing.com/employment/||facility||Canada - AB|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/central-rock-gym.png||Central Rock Gym||https://centralrockgym.com/careers/||facility||USA - CT, FL, MA, NY, RI|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/delire-1.png||Delire||https://www.delirescalade.com/en/carrieres||product||Canada - QC|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/eldorado-wall-company.png||Eldorado Climbing||https://eldowalls.com/pages/careers||product||USA - CO - Louisville|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/entre-prises-1.png||EP Climbing||https://epclimbing.com/na/en/ep-usa-careers||product||USA - OR - Bend|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/Logo-Everlast-Climbing-square.jpg||Everlast / Kumiki / Groperz / eXpression||https://everlastclimbing.com/pages/careers||product||USA - MN|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/fa-climbing.png||FA Climbing||https://faclimbing.com/careers/||facility||USA - IL, PA|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/on-guelph-grotto.png||Guelph Grotto||https://www.guelphgrotto.com/careers||facility||Canada - ON - Guelph|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/trublue.png||Head Rush Technologies // TRUBLUE||https://trublueclimbing.com/about/careers||product||USA - CO|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/high-point-climbing.png||High Point Climbing & Fitness||https://www.highpointclimbing.com/employment||facility||USA - AL, TN|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/impact.png||IMPACT||https://impactclimbing.com/careers/||product||Canada - ON - Milton|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/junction-climbing-center.png||Junction Climbing Centre||https://www.junctionclimbing.com/employment-opportunities||facility||Canada - ON - London|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/metolius.png||Metolius||https://www.metoliusclimbing.com/job-openings.html||product||USA - OR - Bend|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/metro-rock.png||MetroRock||https://metrorock.com/||facility||USA - MA, NY, VT|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/momentum-1.png||Momentum||https://recruiting.paylocity.com/recruiting/jobs/All/df699b76-9e67-4daa-9236-27d597e75dbf/Momentum-LLC||facility||USA - TX, UT, WA|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/movement-2.png||Movement Gyms||https://movementgyms.com/careers/||facility||USA - CA, CO, IL, MD, OR, TX, VA|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/Logo-OLC-jpg.jpg||OLC Architecture||https://www.olcdesigns.com/about-us/#teammember||service||USA - CO|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/Logo-OnSite.png||OnSite||https://www.theonsite.com/copy-of-carrières||product||Canada - QC|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/organic.png||Organic Climbing||https://organicclimbing.com/pages/employment-opportunities||product||USA - PA - Philipsburg|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/peak-experiences.png||Peak Experiences||https://www.peakexperiences.com/employment||facility||USA - VA|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/va-sportrock.png||Sportrock||https://www.sportrock.com/join-our-team||facility||USA - MD, VA|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/stone-age-climbing-gym.png||Stone Age||https://climbstoneage.com/employment-staff/||facility||USA - NM - Albuquerque|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/ut-the-front.png||The Front||https://thefrontclimbingclub.com/careers/||facility||USA - UT|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/the-gravity-vault.png||The Gravity Vault||https://gravityvault.com/careers||facility||USA - CA, NJ, NY, PA|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/the-north-face.png||The North Face||https://www.thenorthface.com/en-us/about-us/careers||Product||USA|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/the-pad.png||The Pad||https://www.thepadclimbing.org/employment/||facility||USA - CA, NV|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/co-the-spot.png||The Spot||https://www.thespotgym.com/careers||facilities||USA - CO|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/trango.png||Trango // Tenaya||https://trango.com/pages/careers||product||USA - CO|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/treadwall-fitness-1.png||Treadwall||https://treadwallfitness.com/careers/||product||USA - MA|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/nc-triangle-rock-club.png||Triangle Rock Club (choose location)||https://www.trianglerockclub.com/morrisville/about/employment/||facility||USA - NC, VA|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/co-ubergrippen.png||Ubergrippen||https://ugclimbing.com/jobs/||facility||USA - CO|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/UK-Climbing.png||UKC (jobs in UK)||https://www.ukclimbing.com/news/job_finder/||organization||United Kingdom|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/vertical-solutions.jpg||Vertical Solutions // Habit // Proxy // Pebble||https://vsclimbinggyms.com/company/careers||product||USA - UT|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/vertical-world-1.png||Vertical World||https://verticalworld.com/||facility||USA - WA|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/VITAL.png||Vital||https://www.vitalclimbinggym.com/careers||facility||USA - CA, NY, WA|
|https://www.climbingbusinessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/zenith.png||Zenith Climbing||https://zenithclimbing.com/employment/||facility||USA - MO|
Meet the future of Green Climbing!At EP Climbing, we’re delighted to announce that we’ve entered into a partnership with Greenholds, the creator of a groundbreaking, environmentally friendly solution for climbing holds. Greenholds’ circular system responds to the need for sustainability in climbing walls and provides a solution for gyms, schools and local communities looking to reduce their carbon footprint. As a pioneering market leader in the world of indoor climbing, we’re constantly looking to the future, so joining Greenholds on its mission to make sportsclimbing more sustainable was an easy decision to make. We’re excited to be involved in this new generation of climbing holds, beginning with both training and downclimbing holds, which are 100% recyclable and made in the Netherlands using raw materials from waste streams. This collaboration will see EP Climbing and Greenholds join forces to spread the word of sustainability. We believe that it’s crucial to improve our impact and we see this partnership as an exciting opportunity to drive forward sustainability. GREENHOLDS’ PRODUCT Get ready to discover the fruit of years of research into materials and engineering! These wear-resistant, lightweight and easy-to-clean climbing holds deliver both high-end performance and a solution that protects the planet. POSITIVE REVIEWS FROM CLIMBERS AND OWNERS Following extensive testing in several climbing gyms over the past two years, they have received very positive reviews from climbers and owners. We believe that these new-generation holds have the power to inject some “green” into our industry! WIN-WIN SOLUTION FOR BOTH SIDES And, because it’s all about reducing the carbon footprint, you can return your used holds to us, which will then be reused as raw materials to be fed back into the production loop – a win for both business and the environment. This system clearly demonstrates that it is possible to produce holds sustainably. As if that wasn’t enough of an incentive, when you return your used holds you’ll get a discount on your new ones. WHEN CAN YOU TRY THEM OUT? EP Climbing and Greenholds will be attending several trade events together this autumn:
- The ABC Conference in Rotherham (UK) on 14 and 15 September
- Salon de l’Escalade in Grenoble (France) on 29 and 30 September
- Vertical Pro in Friedrichshafen (Germany) on 24 and 25 November
CBJ press releases are written by the sponsor and do not represent the views of the Climbing Business Journal editorial team.
Timestamps00:00:00 – Intro 00:01:53 – The Expensive Boulders Instagram account 00:06:40 – Initial goals of the account and its evolution 00:15:45 – Representation of routesetting on social media 00:21:07 – How does this representation of routesetting impact routesetters? 00:29:03 – Focusing on aesthetics 00:32:14 – Setting advice surrounding social media 00:43:52 – Evolution of Myr’s setting philosophy over time 00:48:13 – Myr’s mentors 00:56:55 – Training a new setter 01:04:38 – Setting harder than you climb
CHEN: I’m wondering whether you could elaborate on maybe some initial goals you had for the [Expensive Boulders] account, what you hope the community would gain from it, and whether it has evolved or not?MYR: …I think it’s really cool to be able to walk into a gym and see all sorts of different boulders. There’s a lot of variety, but if you look at my account or our account, you’ll actually see that there’s predominantly—I wouldn’t say it’s one type of boulder, but it’s definitely a certain flavor of boulder, and it’s boulders with big holds. You would be surprised to see that on the account and then actually see where I’m from…the gym that I grew up routesetting in, which has only been the last eight years. We don’t have any sort of wall terrain that allows for us to set with holds that big. Even some of our volumes can’t fit on all of the walls that we have. And we are extremely limited as to what we can do in terms of big coordination moves on slab or on vert or anything that forces you to stay close to the wall. Because of the density that we have to have on our walls, because of how small our gym is, we actually cannot really facilitate that…
Feel free to disagree with me on this, but I think that social media’s representation of routesetting could potentially be skewed. What are your thoughts on that?Oh, I think it absolutely is…Because if you are on a boulder that is just “pull and be strong,” someone can be really strong and they can hop on it and they can climb it and make it kind of look chill. I feel these days if we see a video on Instagram of someone just climbing something like that and they’re really strong, they make it look really easy. Is it something that’s going to keep our attention? Or are we going to scroll until we find the thing where there’s some dude doing a six-move paddle and then catching something with one arm, and then that’s the kind of movement that happens very quickly and it catches your eye? …It hits that spot in your brain when you see something crazy and outlandish like that because your first thought is: “Oh my gosh, that’s crazy. I could never do that.” …Depending on the gym, most of the routes are not that kind of route, and I feel if that’s all we’re seeing as routesetters, it can be kind of tough to break out of that and get creative just making what you could consider just “original,” “vanilla,” “normal” routesetting where you’re just pulling, which I think is really fun…
Social media absolutely focuses on aesthetics. And sometimes when the climber in the video is really strong and they make something look really easy, it’s difficult to tell the functionality of the climb. So, how do you think this slightly skewed representation of routesetting is impacting routesetters?I think it’s interesting. At least for me, it has allowed me to get myself into a little bit of a rut and feel a little bit stuck sometimes. Because when it comes to aesthetics versus functionality, I will tell you right now that I’ve set routes that are super aesthetic and I’m like, “Gosh, that is so pretty. It’s literally perfect. I cannot believe how pretty and perfect this is and how everything matches. Everything is turned and set the way that I want it.” But then, in forerunning, one part doesn’t work. And the best solution will give my community the route that is best for them, that they will have the most fun on, that they will gain the most from…It’s all about making sure that for the grade, for the type of movement, the climber is enjoying themselves, they’re having just the right amount of difficulty, just the right amount of risk—all that stuff. There have been times where I’ve had to compromise aesthetics for functionality and be like, “Yeah, this hold does not match the hold set. Everything is dual-tex here, but this one isn’t. But this move is too hard for what this wall, what this set needs it to be, and it needs to change.” And I’ve also had some of my setters go through the same thing, too…
You said that generally you’re going to sacrifice aesthetics for function, and 99% of the time I agree with that. But is there any time where you are willing to sacrifice functionality for aesthetics?I’m sure that there is…If it was something like, “Oh, the route with this perfect aesthetic turns out to be just a touch harder, or maybe they will have to work a little bit harder to keep their feet on.” I think the answer to that would be: If it teaches a good lesson—if it’s something that makes them work harder and end up using better technique or they have to get better body position or something like that—I think that is fine. I definitely have sacrificed the functionality to keep an aesthetic because I’m like, “Well, this will just be a really good opportunity for them to do X, Y and Z with their foot placement.” But if it’s something that I feel would not be beneficial, especially for the difficulty—that would be grossly inappropriate for the difficulty—then I will make the executive decision to be like, “No, we should switch it out.” But sometimes things turn out so perfect that maybe it’s Ok if [the climbers] have to work a little harder. And I think that might be the only time…
So, with your experience on Expensive Boulders and running or now co-running a big social media account, how has the evolution of routesetting online changed your philosophy over the years?I was thinking about this, and I don’t really know if it has. I think the only way that it maybe has changed it is just what I was saying earlier about putting more focus on creating climbs at lower grades that are eye-catching and look fun. Because it pains me to think about someone walking into the gym and getting so excited to look at a climb, like “that climb looks really exciting,” and then realizing that, where they’re at now with their skill level, they wouldn’t stand a chance on it. Just prioritizing those lower-level climbs…
Going back to philosophy, can you tell us about the major influences or mentors who really shaped who you are as a routesetter, and maybe some major lesson that you’ve taken away from these people?Well, my most prominent mentor is the owner of Climb Tacoma. His name is Brian. Actually, if you’re curious about Brian Doyle, he owns Climb Tacoma, obviously. He is in the Leavenworth Guidebook. He is a Leavenworth first ascensionist, and he and his best friend Jason own the gym. And Brian pre-COVID was the manager, and he was very involved in the gym…He hired me to work the desk and coach kiddos, the non-competitive team. And then he even said, “Hey, it’d be really cool to get you in routesetting, too. It’d be really good to have a woman on the team.” …And then, yeah, he taught me everything that I know about setting. And one of the biggest things that he has instilled in me is that our routes are here to not only give people a really enjoyable time but also to teach them something. At every level, there’s something that someone can learn, and there is also level appropriateness. I probably would not ask a V0 climber to do a heel hook or a toe hook, but you can introduce those in maybe V2, definitely V3 if you do it in a very simple way that feels very comfy…
Let’s say right now you would hire a novice setter with little experience but a lot of psych. Can you run us through as a head setter how you would approach training this setter?…Well, I think it’s important to understand types of holds. And this is actually something that whenever I teach any sort of Intro to Climbing, a climber’s first day in the gym, I will teach them hold name jargon, so that I can communicate with them. And so, without having that good knowledge base of that kind of communication, it’s really hard to set a route. Because when you’re setting a route, it is a form of communication; you’re asking the climber to do certain movements. So, first I would want to make sure they understand what matching is, what smearing is. Flagging is super important, foot switching—stuff like that. I would want to make sure that they understood that first of all, because you should be asking climbers to do techniques like that in your climbs… I would probably with a newer setter—it would really depend where they’re at in their own climbing—but I would probably start with asking them to set a really simple movement first…For me, I found that it was very helpful when holds were picked out for me and I was given a little bit of direction, but not too much direction where I felt none of the creativity came from me…And then I always make sure that they know, “Hey, if you get stuck, it’s always good to ask for help. I always want to hear any questions that you have. You can never ask too many questions. But also, at the same time, I want you to feel confident enough to try things…”
Supporting Your OperationsThe climbing gym industry has seen a lot of major changes and improvements since the first climbing gym stateside opened in 1987, but the way members pay for access has stayed fairly steady. The biggest change has been pricing, which has naturally increased with improved product offerings and inflation, but the way members have been able to pay for access has almost always been monthly or prepaid yearly. This constant begs an important question that many of you are likely wondering: “If the industry standard has always been monthly or annual memberships, why would I introduce a weekly-billed membership? The pros better be pretty amazing in order to consider this addition.” Well, the short answer is that they are, so let’s jump right in. For starters, billing weekly will increase your revenue on that membership by 8% over a year, even if it’s the same weekly cost as the monthly-billed membership. This uptick is possible because when you bill monthly you are billing your members twelve times over the year, so you essentially bill them for 48 weeks, but when you bill them weekly you bill them for 52 weeks. That’s four more weeks of billing that are not captured when billing monthly. While no one likes a price increase, a small bump is more likely to be well received when it’s going toward a good cause, like supporting the well-being of the staff running the gym. There’s a tertiary effect when you bill members in this manner, and we will use the recent month of June as an example. If you pay your employees every two weeks on a Friday, then in June you likely encountered paying payroll three times. For some companies, that could make finances a bit tighter. But if you bill weekly, you actually bill your members for a fifth week in June as well, helping to cover the operational costs associated with supporting that same membership. Now let’s dig into some of the fun stuff…data.
Reducing Administrative HeadachesMembership logistics can be challenging to look at statistically because raw numbers change on a daily basis with new purchases, cancellations, members going on and off hold, etc. So, in order to simplify things, we looked at each time a membership was billed and then compared weekly billings to monthly billings. We focused on anonymized data from June 2022 to June 2023 from at least 15 gyms using Approach. Here’s what we found:
- Weekly-Billed: Across 94,641 billings, 9081 failed, which equals a 9.5% failure rate (a majority of these failures were due to insufficient funds).
- Monthly-Billed: Across 85,510 billings, 15,545 failed, which equals an 18.1% failure rate (a majority of these failures were due to insufficient funds).
- Weekly canceled memberships equaled 2.6%.
- Monthly canceled memberships equaled 3.1%.
Giving Members OptionsBased on our research and our discussions with gyms across the industry, we believe that billing weekly is a great tool that any gym can add to their arsenal. There are also some other positive aspects of weekly billing that are hard to quantify through data but we believe are worth mentioning, so let’s talk about those benefits next. One of those positives is that consumers are less likely to cancel a $20 weekly payment versus a monthly payment when, in many cases, the weekly payment is very close to the cost of a day pass. The same goes for membership purchases. A few of the gym owners we have spoken with have an easier time converting members from a day pass purchase to a $20 weekly membership versus an $80 monthly membership, even though they pay the same price every 4 weeks. Lowering barriers to entry makes financial sense for your business, and it’s good for customers and the sport of climbing as well.
Weathering the UnexpectedThe next big positive about weekly memberships is that they can actually help your business ride the waves of economic or other shocks. The extreme scenario dates back to the start of the pandemic, when climbers paid for an entire month of membership only to see their gym shut down, raising questions about getting their money back. In the scenario of a weekly-billed membership, you capture a significantly less amount of money upfront than a product that takes 30 days to use. It is our observation that most gyms in the industry use cash-based accounting, with a handful of the larger operators using GAAP reporting. Well, if you realize revenue based upon how much a membership has been used, like in GAAP reporting, then weekly-billed memberships get realized much faster and decrease your outstanding liabilities. Here’s an example: A gym has 1000 members paying $80 a month and they are billed monthly. Halfway through the month, the business has a flood and must shut down. That business has $40,000-worth of outstanding liability that members could ask for since they cannot use the facility, as opposed to $10,000-worth of outstanding liability if all those members had been on weekly billing. The last consideration for offering weekly memberships is dealing with chargebacks. Just about every gym that we have spoken with has had a member who pays for a membership for six months and then calls the gym saying, “I didn’t know that I was paying for it, and I want my money back.” We’ve unfortunately heard stories about some members even using a gym for two to three months and still submitting three chargebacks for their membership. When you bill weekly, there is a greater amount of effort required by the consumer to submit twelve separate chargebacks for three months. Fortunately, most customers aren’t out to game the system, and weekly billing can help gyms and customers avoid getting into this situation at all. Even if there aren’t multiple chargebacks, we believe it’s less likely for someone to submit a single chargeback over a $20 payment versus an $80 payment.
Staying Ahead of the CurveOverall, we believe that in less than five years a significant portion of the climbing industry will be leveraging weekly memberships to strengthen their business and give their customers more options. It’s not a new concept, but in this industry it is not currently widely adopted. Today, we have more and more clients making the decision to sell weekly memberships, and we are excited to see their business performance increase with the offering. Approach’s goal as a company is to build world-class products that help small business owners across the world make their business better for everyone involved. We continue to build features that are changing the game for gym owners, and we’re not stopping anytime soon.
About the AuthorAndrew Potter is an American entrepreneur and founder or co-founder of multiple companies (including ROKC climbing gyms and Approach), and community is the heart of his mission. Conceptualized in 2014 during his third tour in Afghanistan with the 75th Ranger Regiment, ROKC began as a dream to make climbing available to everyone in Kansas City. After dealing with the struggles of operating a multi-facility climbing gym company, Andrew co-founded Approach with the hopes that he could ease the pain that he went through for other gym owners. His goal of providing enterprise-level products for small business owners is still his focus today. Aside from business, Andrew is still an avid climber and loves surfing on jugs in the Red River Gorge. Most importantly, Andrew is a loving husband and father to three children.
This story was paid for by the sponsor and does not necessarily represent the views of the Climbing Business Journal editorial team.