How to open a climbing gym

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Opening a climbing gym is an exciting yet big project, and it might be hard to know where and how to start. DÉLIRE wants to help you make your dream a reality by sharing the knowledge we gained in our rock climbing gym projects, compiled in a simple guidebook.

DEFINING YOUR NEEDS

Step one: dream big. After you visited different climbing gyms, think of all the concepts and characteristics you preferred. Put them all together to create your dream climbing gym and add your personal touch. It’s important determine at this early stage what will make your gym unique: it’s your competitive advantage.

You can already identify your business’s mission and values, which will guide you every day, in every decision you make. Question the people around you and your future customers. What are your friends and climbing buddies expecting? What services will you offer? Rope climbing? Bouldering? Kids climbing gym? Maybe all of those! Will families be welcome, will they have a dedicated room for the kids? Or would you rather be a hardcore climbers’ club? In other words, do your shopping list.

At this point, you need to think of all the key parts of your project. There’s a lot to think of. Spaces and buildings to rent, gear and hardware to buy, and so on. You can already contact our team at this stage. With our solid experience in building rock climbing gym and operation, we’ll make sure nothing is forgotten.

Don’t neglect your needs regarding the gym’s maintenance and your staff’s wellbeing. For instance, the use of loose chalk can cause your space to become very dusty and hard to clean. Make sure it’s easy to maintain and to use robust, commercial-grade materials.

We’ve seen so many different projects, with their very own features. None is better than another. With genuine effort, every rock gym project has a chance of success.Whether it be a small coop, an outdoor park structure, a school wall or a 40,000 ft2 megaproject, if it’s well planned, climbing lovers will be there.

PLANNING YOUR BUDGET

Then comes the complex task of writing your business plan, which lists your project’s features and their costs. Think about the market and your estimated traffic. Calculate your income, expenses and financing.

Once again, feel free to contact us; our 360° service will help you make a realistic budget. Our experienced team knows how much can cost the layout of common areas, furniture and climbing holds. Plus, amongst our services, we also offer structures and mattresses. Of course, the final cost will be influenced by the quality of the chosen materials and the time required for the professionals to deliver.

DESIGNING YOUR CLIMBING GYM

While working on your business plan, you can already start looking for spaces and business partners. Don’t base your decisions on prices! Make sure every professional working with you—architect, general contractor, wall manufacturer—has a solid experience and enjoys a solid reputation in the rock climbing gym industry.

Your gym’s success depends highly on its layout, but this step takes time and knowledgeable, skilled resources. Always work hand in hand with an architect and our design team. Our experts will be happy to help with the arrangement of climbing walls, the space limitations, the surface needed. We’ll also point out the key aspects to take into account regarding your building’s structure. A climbing structure can be built on any type of building (steel, concrete or wooden structure).

Just keep in mind that walls take space. For instance, overhanging walls require much more space than face walls.

PLANNING YOUR SCHEDULE

Your construction schedule will be influenced by many elements such as financing, design, submissions and construction.

Allow 4 to 6 weeks for financing, depending on the source (private or from a bank). When you’re happy with the design and your funding is confirmed, we need to be involved quickly in the preproduction stage. This will prevent useless delays on the construction site.

If the space is big enough, we can start working simultaneously with the contractors. By coordinating our efforts, we’ll make sure to avoid delays. Don’t worry, we’re entrepreneurs and gym owners ourselves. We work every day with different stakeholders and, just like you, we’re concerned by the speed of execution.

Once the space is ready, allow your professional routesetters a few days—usually no more than a week—to set problems and routes. You’ll also need up to a week to train your specialized staff, which will be easier and faster for bouldering than rope climbing. Plan some time for hiring, training, marketing and accounting.

The last few days before your grand opening will be emotionally charged. But once your first climber will set foot in your gym, you’ll be highly rewarded for your hard work.

Please feel free to contact our team for more info. We’ll guide you out with your schedule and assist you in your planning.

That’s it! You’re now ready to go and make your own climbing gym! Climbing is now bursting. The opportunities are infinite. Just remember your keys to success : surround yourself with the right partners, choose the best suppliers and, amongst everything, keep your community at the core of every decision.

DÉLIRE escalade has three climbing gyms and one factory specialised in climbing walls production.

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