I want a bouldering gym! What do I do?
- ~ Decide if you have the time, energy, community and/or money to invest in learning a totally new thing. Even if you worked at a gym, you probably have no idea what goes into the construction and management of every little aspect of it.
~ Spend as much as you can on a good wall design and facility layout, and make it as big as you can. In certain communities, you will grow in ways you didn’t expect and that can be just as detrimental as being too small.
- ~ Realize that a successful, quality gym takes years of experience to figure out. If you start really small on a shoestring budget, your end product will be worth it.
How much will insurance cost?
- Not that much. It’s based on the income of your gym and it shouldn’t be a major factor in whether or not you do this project. You can afford it. It’s also up to you if you want to hold it, anyway. There’s no law that says you need to – weigh your risks.
I want a yoga studio and a restaurant/cafe and a workout space . . .
~ Consider your audience. Do you need them to bring that in? If so, is this really a good idea? If not, if this is just something you want, do some research on facilities that have these things – is it worth it to them to have it all? Is the investment, staff, etc going to balance the income and time suck? Remember, the bigger the project, the more hard it will be to manage successfully.
How much did it cost you to build yours?
~ This is sort of an irrelevant question. Cost is dependent on a lot of things. We saved hundreds of thousands by doing it ourselves and asking for support from the community, but it doesn’t mean you’ll have the same resources. We also had an established membership to draw from financially and skill-wise when it was time to do the gym up properly. It depends on how you construct yours, where you live, the price of materials, how much labor you have to pay for, etc. etc.
How do you advertise the gym?
~ We don’t. People find out about us through word of mouth. It’s like Fight Club.
Why are you a non-profit?
~ So we don’t have to deal with taxes, but the tax form we have to fill out is way worse than plugging stuff into TurboTax. We’re a 501(c)7 social club, which means that no donations can be written off. We still pay property assessment taxes and employment taxes, etc. It might contribute to goodwill that it’s a non-profit, but there’s not been any tangible benefit. It just seemed like a good idea at the time. Seriously. We also have to structure things so that we don’t get into trouble with the IRS with our activites, whereas regular gyms can do whatever.
Why are you an LLC?
- ~ A Limited Liability Corporation literally “corporate” the gym into a fake human being. When sued, the LLC is liable, not the principles. It’s a good way to protect your personal assets if you run, or are involved with, a climbing gym.
What software do you use?
- . It’s local to San Luis Obispo which was handy when we had troubles getting the door system to work. There are better programs if you don’t have a fancy door, and they’re free. See
How do I get the money to fund this?
~ Well, if you have the assets, you wouldn’t be asking, right? The answer is your community. Come up with a way to let them invest/loan in the gym and if it’s something your area can support, it will work out. Just remember to design it so you protect yourself and those people whose money you handle. Money can spoil relationships and the whole experience.
How big should I go with this?
~ Depends what you’re doing. We say start small. But but but, if this is in anyway going to end up not just a climber’s cave, don’t settle for anything less than 16 foot walls. It’s the standard and if you’re not used to it, it will seem high (especially if you opt for top-outs) BUT it will not be as dated in the future when all the gyms are that high except yours and you can’t compete.