The Pad Goes Coast-to-Coast, Plans New York Gym

Image of the pad employees in climbing gym
The Pad Climbing has expanded throughout the western United States but is making the leap to the east coast with their newest facility.
The Pad crew in the gym
The Pad Climbing team—which operates three gyms across California and Nevada—is making the leap to the East Coast with their newest gym project, The Pad’s second planned gym that’s expected to open this year. (All photos courtesy of The Pad)

The Pad Binghamton
Binghamton, New York

Specs: Owned by Kristin and Yishai Horowitzalong with employee owners and shareholders, since 2017—The Pad opened its first climbing gym in 2002 in San Luis Obispo, California, and has expanded multiple times since then. (More on The Pad’s history can be found here.) Now, with full-service gyms in San Luis Obispo (CA) and Henderson (NV), a training center in Santa Barbara (CA), and a full-service Santa Barbara gym planned for Fall 2024, The Pad is making a jump across the nation with its latest gym project—located in Binghamton, New York.

Elevate Climbing Walls

Binghamton is home to some of Kristin’s close family members, and ever since going to her dad’s high school reunion in 2006, she has wanted to develop a gym in the city. “I just knew that the community would love it the way that my community in SLO did,” said Kristin, The Pad’s CEO and founder. “People have invested in the community since its founding so it’s really appealing for the specific demographics we serve: college students, young professionals, families…” Kristin also hopes the gym will help fill the room for more “third spaces” in Binghamton’s outdoorsy community: “People love going outdoors, hiking, kayaking, biking…so bring all of that together and that’s ideal for us.”

Members of the Kristin and Yishai's family
“It took me getting my husband/partner back for the family reunion in 2021,” said Kristin (pictured with her family). “He was sold immediately, and 50% of my vacation was driving around with my cousin who does trade work in town showing us potential buildings, my kids asleep in the back of the car.”

According to Kristin, ironically, the timing wasn’t great for a new facility. “It wasn’t something we were actively pushing for,” she explained. “My mom died [in 2022], and my dad suddenly died in September [2023]. Two weeks later, the real estate agent called with the perfect building.” After casually mentioning the available location, Kristin said investors expressed interest in the project. “So, between the money and the building just sliding right in there, I like to think my parents were working together from wherever they are and made it just so simple and easy, we can’t say no,” she said.

The chosen building required minimal alterations, as “it had a previous life with similar use,” Kristin noted, and could already accommodate climbing walls of substantial height. “Climbing gym locations are hampered by three main issues, in my estimation: parking (plentiful), height (perfect), and how the roof is supported. If there are a lot of columns, you have to do creative workarounds—not the case here,” Kristin said. Going forward, The Pad will only need to update bathrooms and office spaces, besides the climbing areas. “That’s why this is such a great opportunity for us,” she added. “It has taken us nine months to just get through subjective architectural review [for the planned Santa Barbara gym]…This one is just plug and play.”

The Pad Binghamton under construction
We’re very Walltopia loyal,” Kristin said of the new gym’s buildout (underway in the background). “The installation teams are wonderful people, and they move so fast and are great at problem solving.” (Pictured in the foreground: Joe Maier, Setting Director at The Pad)

The 15,000-square-foot, mixed-discipline Binghamton gym will feature 40-foot rope walls and 16-18-foot bouldering walls, as well as “all the amenities, services and programs you’ve seen us offer at other locations,” a recent blog post on The Pad’s website details. One of those services will be 24/7 access to the bouldering portion of the facility. Another hope for the gym is that it will be beginner friendly, and Kristin notes the team is “keen to design a really cool kids area.” The Pad Binghamton is also being designed with the Binghamton University college crowd in mind.

Capitan software

“The Pad (and before it, SLO Op) has always been a remote operation,” Kristin said of the move across the country. “Yishai and I aren’t ‘office people,’ and before it became a real job, we did everything we did on computers.” Even from California, The Pad’s owners have stayed connected to the climbing communities around Binghamton. That connection recently led to a partnership with Keith Liao, owner of the Cayuga Climbs gym in nearby Ithaca, who will be a part-owner and board member of The Pad Binghamton. “There’s something really magical about teaming up with a gym owner locally,” Kristin said. “We don’t want to be outsiders coming in. We want to have deep local roots when we do this. Having a partner as sincere and supportive as Keith who is established in the area is a big part of my excitement for going to Binghamton.”

image of cayuga climbs competition
The style of the Cayuga Climbs bouldering gym (pictured) was inspired by The Pad’s original SLO Op location. “I think there’s a lot of potential for small business owners to collaborate in a way that’s beneficial to everyone—our members, our staff, our community,” said Liao. “By working together, we’re going to be able to have a better offering for members and get more people introduced to the wonderful sport of climbing.”

Walls: Walltopia
Flooring: Climbmat
CRM Software: Approach
Instagram: @ThePadClimbing

In Their Words: “How do you define success, exactly? I think it’s just heart. We had budgeting talks recently, and all of my team really buys into where Yishai and I are trying to go right now, and they also feel totally supported in their own goals by us. For me, that’s success. The money comes if everyone is happy…My team is interested in making our members and visitors happy, so if everyone is getting what they want, how can you not be successful? Even when things feel like they’re falling apart—at the end of the day, we’re all community builders, and you’ve got thousands of people who won’t let you fail if you haven’t let them down.” – Kristin Horowitz, CEO and founder of The Pad

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