Indoor climbing, which mimics the challenges of rock climbing using artificial structures, is a popular sport among rock climbing enthusiasts and fitness nuts looking to challenge their bodies in new ways. Indoor climbing gyms offer year-round access, regardless of weather conditions. They are also an excellent starting point for young people or beginners, as it's much safer than climbing outdoors, where conditions can't easily be controlled. If you can verify the demand, starting an indoor climbing gym could prove to be extremely lucrative.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- Climbing wall
- Rental equipment
Conduct market research to ensure the viability of the business. Start with Census.gov to obtain information about the local population and demographics. While your target market will include professionals between the ages of 20 and 40, keep in mind that children between the ages of 5 and 18 also will comprise a significant portion of your revenue. Parents are much more likely to attend a facility that caters to their children via day care or kid's programs.
Learn the safety issues associated with opening an indoor climbing gym. Contact your licensing department to learn the safety requirements and liability insurance amounts needed to operate in your county, as well as business permits and additional licenses, if applicable. Then create a detailed business plan to present to potential investors.
Secure significant commercial space, at least 5,000 square feet, for your climbing gym. Ideally, look for a locale with easy access to a university, 'downtown' or residential area. In particular, look for a building that can offer enough vertical space to accommodate your wall. Another space consideration is the amenities you offer, such as a Pilates or yoga studio, weight room, locker rooms, conference room, viewing area and parking.
Hire a design company to help you develop your climbing wall. You'll want to construct a wall that will challenge your clients and also work for beginners. A design company can provide you with the rental equipment that you will rent to clients and might be able to connect you with a liability insurance provider that works specifically with climbing gyms.
Develop a list of safety rules and regulations for your gym. Consult with an attorney to help you develop your climbing waivers.
Develop a series of climbing courses for beginners, intermediate and advanced climbers. Create a mandatory safety training course for beginners. It should cover creating knots, belaying, securing harnesses, proper equipment and appropriate climbing clothing and footwear. More advanced courses might cover rappelling, anchoring, rescue, racing and lead climbing. Also offer private instruction at an additional cost. Offer discounted rates to those in groups of three or more.
Hire qualified and certified instructors to teach the courses. Look for those with certifications approved by the Professional Climbing Guides Institute, a non-profit organisation that governs the certification process. Ensure that your staff is prepared to volunteer at local events and schools as a way to generate interest in the sport and get involved in the community.
Purchase chalk pads, harnesses and shoes for rent, in addition to other amenities for your Yoga studio, weight room and changing rooms. Vending machines that offer healthy snacks and refreshments are another good source of revenue.
Tips and warnings
- Offer day passes and memberships which might include free classes, guest passes and other discounts.
- Offer Wi-Fi.
- Offer team-building programs, competitions, birthday parties, Parent's Night Out and after-school programs.
- Consider offering a portable wall to rent out at events, fairs and parties.
- Create a notice board or message board where members can look for climbing partners.
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