Top 6 Cities to Open a Climbing Gym


Memphis, TN

Population of Metro Area: 1,341,690
Number of Public Climbing Gyms: 0

In the heart of Dixie lies a city of 655,155 without a single dedicated climbing-only gym. This is surprising because Memphis is the largest city in Tennessee and the largest city along the Mississippi river. But the city has not seen the gym development that Nashville and Chattanooga have seen, due perhaps to a myth that there is no climbing community.

Climbing, however, is not unheard of in the city. The area is currently served by a non-profit community center with an 11 anchor wall, and a national-chain fitness facility with a small wall. With several top climbing destinations within 5 hours of the city there is likely a budding climbing community that would be eager to use a local gym to train for their weekend warrior trips to the Obed or the boulders of HP40.

In 2012 Forbes named Memphis as one of the top emerging cities in the US. According to the Downtown Memphis Commission the population rose 7% from 2000 to 2010, and much of that increase can be attributed to young professionals. These workes are being attracted by one of several Fortune 500 companies in the area and are inclined to put down roots because of the city’s affordable living. The Council for Community and Economic Research ranks the Memphis area as the 5th least expensive urban area in the US. Memphis also boasts some of the lowest tax burdens and good real estate investment opportunities. This is evident in the incredibly low square foot asking price of industrial property at $29/sq ft and office buildings at $81/sqft.

The median age of Memphis residents is 33, but it is the 22,365 students at the University of Memphis that will give any size gym a steady supply of members and employees.

With all of these attributes, Memphis represents one of the best markets for an entrepreneurial climbing gym company to take the first-mover advantage and set the stage for future development in the region. As High Point in Chattanooga and Climb Nashville have shown, Tennessee is no climbing back-water and a smart business owner should take another look at the Bluff city.

Harness Consulting