Specs: After opening four climbing facilities in ten years, Sender One is poised to add three more gyms in Southern California by 2024, this time in Westwood Village, Lakewood and Huntington Beach. The first Sender One facility (SNA) opened in Santa Ana in 2013, a full-service gym which caters to a wide variety of climbers. A second full-service facility (LAX) opened in Los Angeles four years later, and last year the gym chain opened its first bouldering-focused location, in Playa Vista, as well as a team training center next door to the original Santa Ana gym. According to the founders, each facility was designed with the goal of making local climbers feel at home, in part by embodying colorful flavors from the surrounding communities. The sweeping LAX walls, for example, are inspired by the runways at the nearby airport.
The Westwood Village location will be a bouldering-focused gym, expected to open early next year near UCLA. “We recently put up a barricade with a coming soon sign,” said Alice Kao, Sender One co-founder and CEO. Residing “in the historic Westwood village” in the former Mann Festival Theatre, the 8,000-square-foot facility will feature an additional 2,000-square-foot mezzanine with training boards, fitness and yoga. “The building used to be a theatre and I watched movies there in college years ago!” Kao said. And per their announcement, “The wall designs and the interior will preserve a theatre-like feel. We’re even keeping the marquee at the entrance to pay tribute to the once-popular Westwood venue.”
Additionally, owners Kao and her husband, Wes Shih, signed a lease this year for their full-service Lakewood facility, following three years of searching. The planned gym―expected to open in late 2023 or early 2024―is located two miles north of the Long Beach airport, with shops, transit routes and food options nearby. The floor space will be 28,000 square feet, which is similar in size to the 30,000-square-foot LAX gym and 24,000-square-foot SNA gym. Once finished, the facility will include a full lineup of gym amenities, to go with more bouldering and 50-foot roped walls―a height the building is undergoing construction to accommodate.
The Huntington Beach location, Sender One’s third bouldering-focused gym, is expected to open around the same time. The 9,000-square-foot facility is being designed to complement Sender One’s neighboring gyms in Orange County and Los Angeles. As its name suggests, the gym is located ten minutes from the beach, in an open-air shopping, dining and entertainment area called Bella Terra.
Walls: Walltopia (Westwood Village, Lakewood)
Flooring: Vertical Solutions (Westwood Village), Walltopia (Lakewood)
CRM Software: RGP for climbing gyms, MindBody for yoga studios
In Their Words: “One of the things I’m really proud of in the last 10 years is, even in Los Angeles, when I first started climbing at other gyms, I felt like I didn’t really belong. I felt really judged when I was climbing…So I made a very conscious decision to build a gym where I feel like I could belong, with my two little kids…and I feel like this can be part of their experience. I’m really big on building a community and events that make it very friendly for families, where families can get started.” – Alice Kao, Sender One CEO and co-founder
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