“Three Separate Dreams Coming Together” Leads to Waco’s First Climbing Gym

image of basin climbing walls with ladders
Putting up the first set at Basin Climbing and Fitness
What began as “three separate dreams of starting an indoor rock climbing gym in Waco, [Texas],” Co-Owner Jessica Colley said, has turned into the founding of Basin Climbing Fitness (pictured)—the Waco area’s first commercial climbing gym, expected to open this fall. (All images courtesy of Basin Climbing and Fitness)

Basin Climbing and Fitness
Waco, Texas

Specs: Basin Climbing and Fitness, owned by Jessica Colley, Trinity Robb and Steel and Carley Ferguson, is expected to open in Waco, Texas, in September. According to Colley, Co-Founder and General Manager of the gym, “Basin is the result of three separate dreams…coming together to form one epic reality.” Colley noted that “the initial seeds” of the business were first planted ten years ago, when Robb and Colley were undergraduate students at Baylor University, located in Waco. The two future gym owners were connected by a mutual friend and realized they both wanted to start a commercial climbing gym in the city. In 2019, Robb and Colley partnered, and by 2020 the duo had gathered a team of investors, ready for the buildout of the gym.

Capitan software

“When the pandemic hit, we were thankfully in a position where we could hit pause on the project,” Colley said. “With rising construction costs and an uncertain future, we decided to wait until the world stabilized a bit before regrouping and moving forward.” Then in 2021, Steel and Carley Ferguson reached out after moving to Waco and beginning a climbing gym project of their own in the area. “They were under contract to buy land for a climbing gym when they learned of the project we had in progress,” Colley explained. “The four of us met and were excited to find that our separate visions aligned and that the Fergusons were the perfect fit to complete our team. We partnered together and set to work creating Basin.”

According to Colley, finding a suitable location for the new gym was a hurdle—many buildings were not tall or large enough and needed “extensive, expensive structural work.” Whenever the team found a potential space that was the right size, there were zoning or height restrictions. Eventually, the team found a plot in Hewitt—a city on the outskirts of Waco—that Colley described as “a central and accessible location” with “the correct zoning, the ideal size, and height limitations we could work within and still be able to eventually add a fullheight speed wall.”

The exterior of Basin and surrounding property
The chosen spot for the new gym, Colley said, “is a centrally located city in the Greater Waco Area, and it is rapidly growing. It is slated for thousands of new homes to be built over the next few years, and new businesses are popping up in Hewitt every day.”

Basin will feature 10,000 square feet of climbing on roped walls reaching 33 feet and bouldering walls reaching 14 feet. Additional planned amenities include a fitness floor, yoga studio, climbing-specific training area, free weights and machines, and programming will range from group classes to events and birthday parties. The gym will also have a training classroom—equipped with a TV, mini rock wall and anchors—intended for orientations, classes and clinics, so that instruction can take place without needing to close climbing areas.

Elevate Climbing Walls

“Empowerment through education is a major part of Basin’s mission and values,” Colley added, and one way the team plans to put that value into practice is by “demonstrating to [new climbers] that they do belong in a climbing gym, no matter what preconceptions they hold.” In addition to providing instruction at the gym, the team hopes to encourage more community members to give climbing a try through outreach, marketing, and connecting with local organizations nearby.

Fitness equipment at Basin
Accompanying the roped climbing and bouldering at Basin will be an assortment of fitness equipment and classes.

Colley recommended future gym owners “assemble a team of people whose skills and experiences complement each other,” making sure the team is aligned on the vision for the business. “This goes for your partners and your staff,” she added. Colley also emphasized the importance of being open to suggestions, advice and feedback throughout the project, sharing plans for the gym with others. “Your future customers have opinions, wants and needs. Their ideas are valuable,” Colley stated. “By learning from them, you can provide a gym that better fits their needs.”

Walls: Kumiki
Flooring: Kumiki
CRM Software: Capitan
Website: www.basinclimbing.com
Instagram: @BasinClimbing

In Their Words: “The biggest thing that has helped us overcome the challenges we’ve faced is definitely the community surrounding us. We have leaned heavily on the support and love of our families, who have been through the thick and the thin with us, as well as on the strength of our partnership. We have so many Wacoans that are absolutely stoked for Basin to open. Their excitement and support has been endless. Every time someone tells us they cannot wait for Basin to open or asks what they can do to support Basin, it becomes clearer and clearer that Basin already has a strong community that we are doing this for. The challenges we face pale in comparison.” – Jessica Colley, Basin Climbing and Fitness Co-Founder, Co-Owner and General Manager

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