The Growth and Effect of Indoor Rock Climbing
A few years ago if you wanted to learn how to rock climb, you had to find someone who would teach you the ins and outs of climbing to learn the ropes. Today you don’t even need ropes or to leave town to learn how to climb. A decade ago there were less than 80 indoor rock gyms in America; today there are over 900 in North America alone.
Before 2009, Will Butierez had never rock climbed a day in his life. He started out by climbing in one of the few indoor gyms in the country at the time. Will learned the ropes by climbing day in and day out learning the fundamentals and local outdoor climbs. As indoor gyms allow the ability to try maneuvers right off the ground with mats at the bottom to test your limits and grow. Will’s growth continued as he became the first person to summit all 3 flatiron domes of Rockefeller formation in a day. Rock climbing has had such a profound impact on Will that he has personally taught over 100 people how to rock climb and even worked with AMGA for a while.
Just as Will continued to grow, so did the indoor rock climbing industry. With an average growth rate of 35 gyms a year, the market continued to expand and pull new people into rock climbing. The Outdoor Foundation finds that indoor climbing is the biggest way to get more people into traditional forms of outdoor rock climbing by starting locally in an environment that is accessible all year round for $10 for a day.
Rock climbing gyms allow the opportunity to learn and perfect moves in a safer fashion than being suspended above jagged rock below. You don’t have to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to get started or drive out of town. The high concentration of climbers in a close proximity gives the chance to get tips and advice from tons of different people who specialize in styles of climbing.
The climbing industry has grown annually attracting tens of thousands additional young climbers per year. According to the Climbing Business Journal, the industry grew by 9% in 2014 and 15% in 2015. There are a scheduled opening of over 40 more gyms in 2016. The predicted forecast is a stable growth averaging 10% til past 2020.
Due to all the high demand for indoor climbing, Will now travels the country as a consultant for these rock gyms ensuring that the flooring safety is sufficient working with Flashed designing custom floors and crash pads for each gym which provide a higher degree of cushion and safety avoiding prefab design by custom building and designing for each gym. In our recent interview with him, he told us that by having safe areas for climbing it can inspire more people to climb and “leave a mark in the community.”
There are no signs of climbing gyms slowing down anytime soon in the future. The passion for climbing continues to grow and inspire the generation of Will Butierez‘s who make their start with indoor climbing. More people have more access than ever before as they continue to emerge in every major city and the movement of climbing will continue to leave a mark in the community.