It’s been a little over a year since it was revealed that the indoor climbing scene in Boulder, CO would be getting another player. The vision of co-owners Mike Moelter and Anne Worley-Moelter, Movement Climbing & Fitness is set to open July 25th.
In anticipation of the pending opening date, Movement has a new website where you can take a virtual tour of the new facility. I was somewhat surprised by how small the virtual tour makes the gym seem, but actual pictures they have posted give a better idea of the size of the facility.
Virtual overview of Movement Climbing & Fitness
Beyond the walls themselves, I was particularly interested in the steps they took to make the gym more spectator friendly, mainly through the addition of stadium seating. Given that they specifically built the walls to meet IFSC international climbing competition standards and the owner’s connection to USA Climbing it is likely that this gym will be holding many high level comps. Based on my (mostly negative) experiences spectating at a few national comps, I really hope this new gym’s setup works well.
Probably more interesting than how well the gym will work out for spectating will be seeing how the climbing gym economy plays out in Boulder. Boulder’s The Daily Camera has an article about the new gym in which they raise the obvious questions about Movement’s close proximity to 3 of Boulder’s already existing gyms (if you count CATS). The general manager of the Boulder Rock Club is quoted as saying “he hopes the business works out” despite being “only two blocks away [from the BRC]”.
Boulder’s cluster of climbing gyms
For someone living outside the “Boulder bubble” like myself, the prospect of this many gyms existing in a place like Boulder seems hard to believe. I personally couldn’t envision paying $70 a month (the likely monthly membership cost at Movement) to climb and/or workout inside when there is so much outdoor climbing to be done year round.
What do people in Boulder think? Can Boulder sustain this many gyms or will one of the gyms not make it?
The bickering in the comments of the article may be the most entertaining part of the whole thing. Very funny.
Very civilized discussion over there.
CLASSIC: “We may be at gym saturation now, but I thought we were at Tibetan knick-knack store saturation after the first 10 opened – and I was wrong about that.”
i’d have to admit, i too thought climbing gyms were a total waste of time and money when so much outdoor climbing existed. this is what has kept me climbing v7s instead of progressing. i used to climb outside 4 to 7 days a week on sharp stone in all temperatures. this made me “fit”, but i was never very strong. even if i was strong, my finger skin was so gnarled that i couldn’t climb without pre taping a few tips on each hand, which made difficult boulder problems nearly impossible.
honestly, after having ticked off the vast majority of my after-work-possible ticklist, i’ve come to grips with the idea of a gym. i always have fun, get a better workout, see more friends, and without trashing my tips, wasting tons of gas and time, and battling snakes, ivy, ticks, bees, and choss.
i never thought i’d say it, but there have been a few times over the last 12 months when i had the chance to climb outside after work, but chose to climb in a gym instead. those decisions are probably what helped me actually send a project or two on the weekend… gameday.
plus, gym rats keep our crags less congested. double bonus!
i haven’t been there in years, so my opinion is highly outdated, but the brc patrons had the glory of being the highest concentration of dooshbags i have ever encountered [save only for rifle]… which says a lot since even the spot has been known to lure a pretty obnoxious scene…. but whatever, shirtless skilless fools need to try to get the attention of the co-eds somehow, right.
i hope the new gym can avoid this unfortunate situation.
Always entertaining Socky. Always.
Movement has something no other gym in this country will have……The Josh.
I’m with sock hands on a lot of this. I think training in a gym has some definite benefits for your “real” climbing outside. If I wasn’t so broke I’d certainly have a gym membership. That being said, $70/mo. seems pretty steep to me, but in Boulder it just might work.
As for the comments on the DC article, I’ve rarely seen an article over there stay civil for more than a few posts.
Well, I don’t live in Boulder, and I actually generally try to avoid Boulder, but over the course of a few field trips I’ve taken to the BRC, I’ve always seen absolutely HUGE crowds there. Just judging by the number of people and birthday parties on Saturdays in December, I think there’s plenty of market for new rock gyms in the area.
And Mr. Hands is totally right. The strongest I’ve ever been was after regular training in a gym. We do have plenty of after work climbing out here, but if you want to get strong, you need to go to a gym, I think.
Interesting thoughts. I guess the whole indoor vs. outdoor training points make sense even though the concept of climbing outside too much will never be a problem for me.
On a related note, this has to be the first time Mr. Hands has a) had this many people actually understand what he is writing and b) had this many people agree with him.
Maybe the best part of living near Bishop was only going to a gym when I came back to madison and visited family. I’m with you Brian. I haven’t experience the “too much real rock” syndrome yet.
Damn. $70 a month? Wow. ce
“Logan, of Jim Logan Architects, said the building should produce 40 percent less energy than other commercial buildings comparable in size and use.”
I wonder how much energy Boulders produces in a typical year of operation?
The rockclimbing close to Boulder is very low quality by any standard.
Also although CATS should be counted as a gym, given that it is the best. They could lose all their climbing business and financially not care at all.
I guess that’s one of the big misnomers about the climbing directly around Boulder. There is a lot of it, but most of it is not “great”.
Funny one James! The climbing close to Boulder may not be great but it’s a lot better than most of the cities of its size in the world. The main issue will be cost, cost, cost as 70 dollars a month is a lot of money.
everyone knows that james/sveen is crazy-horny for cats and hates colorado stone. it crumbles, it makes you bleed, it is a far drive and a far hike.
how’s the ranking of flagstaff az’s college? how ’bout the slc schools?
cali seems to require long drives to dabble in summer and winter climbing joints, way more driving for the same dryness/temps in colorado, but they have yosemite, etc.
also, the south has a few good schools that seem close to climbing towns.
so, now that james has made such a horrible decision about where to go to school, where would he go if he could do it all over again?
heck, i went to college in ohio. maybe i need to do it all over again too.
I wish James would go back to taking out his anger on Jens Larsen and not the outdoor climbing scene in CO. Much more entertaining for us non-locals.
back to the point about gyms… worse than the heat, choss, bugs, snakes, and gas is the TRAFFIC!
traffic alone makes climbing after work heinous… kills the joy faster than you can imagine. it’s AWESOME to watch the daylight hours tick away during your 20 minute turned 1 hour 20 minute commute to the crag.
if you can find a gym close by, you can climb much longer due to the driving time you saved. saved gas pays for the fee. yipeeeeeeeeee.
also, you can call your roped climbing friends names and cuss words, generally bringing their worth/right to breathe into question. this is harder to fit in if you’re going bouldering outside after work.
Watching a 30 minute drive turn into 1 hour on the way to the gym is not my favorite way to spend my precious evening time either.
Watching an 8 hour drive to your “local” sport climbing crag turn into a 10 hour drive due to traffic is…well, it’s kind of soul crushing even without the traffic.
You’re still talking…
If I could make the choice again, I would move to Boulder again. Because of CATS. Second best area in the country, but with a much better concentration of problems than Hueco.
Jeez, I can’t believe this discusion is even possible. I live in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and the nearest hill is hours away, proper rock even further. I would be grateful for any kind of rock near my hometown.
Variety is always a good thing. Though I’ve never been to CATS, the Spot and the BRC are fun and it seems having another option would just be sweet. Hopefully it will reduce the crowds slightly at all the existing gyms, and give us another option when it’s raining/snowing//tornado-ing/we’re feeling too lazy to hike with crashpads.
The workout/climbing gym combo is interesting… I have a feeling that Movement draw a rather unique crowd because of that.
Most of a climbing gym’s clientele will never climb outside for various reasons which I won’t bother to go into here. This probably explains why gyms thrive in an area with lots of climbing.
I toured “Movement” while in Boulder last month, it is a very impressive facility but it’s concept and why it will work is “climbing is fitness”. They treat it like a more interesting weight lifting and along with that add in tons of space for traditional or regular fitness like Yoga, Pilaties, Etc.
Personally, I think that ruins the spirit of climbing and dumbs it down for the masses but the power of the business plan can not be denied. The BRC is at capacity and also plays to a slightly different niche, and therefore won’t suffer much from Movement’s opening. The Spot has an entirely different niche as well and I don’t think they will be effected at all.
Like most gyms though, the quality of their routesetting and will determine if climbers climb there. I believe Chris Danielson is in charge over there? If so, CD knows and it will be good, especially if they are having the large events there. If the RS ends up sucking the place will still thrive on their “climbing is fitness” angle.
BTW, $70/month is cheap in Boulder, there is tons of money there. Piss-ant homes go for ~$300k.
Narc – nice website – I visit often.
Rhoads, just to clarify – Justen Sjong is the Head Routesetter and Coach at Movement, and they will have a strong routesetting team that will serve the variety of clientele (expert climbers, fitness climbers, recreational climbers, new climbers, etc) quite well I am sure. He and Mike Moelter have been routesetting for probably close to 3 decades combined, and that’s just the two of them. I will likely assist with some start-up routesetting – it should be really fun.
One note regarding Movement and the general topic regarding climbing indoors or out, is, as Rhoads noted – a great number of climbers who climb in the gym may never or rarely climb outdoors. In Boulder, I suspect there is a higher rate of crossover than in some areas, though certainly there will be some “gym” exclusive clientele.
Regardless of the percentages, in terms of the question of whether gym climbing hurts the sport or is dumbing down climbing in general – I think to make that conclusion presupposes a direct comparison and judgment about whether climbing indoors or outdoors is “better,” whether as a sport, a culture, or any other activity. Certainly anyone has the right to make that judgment for themselves. As some people think climbing on a rope is better than bouldering, or climbing with traditional gear is better than clipping bolts – some will always have the opinion that climbing outdoors is better or a more pure pursuit than climbing indoors.
I personally think they are just different types of climbing activities and stand on their own. While some people “train” in the gym for climbing outside, it is probably true that vastly more people climb indoors as an end in itself, and if that activity is of value to them, I hope they enjoy it.
For each climber, the goals and motivations are different. For me it’s mostly about isolated movements, which I can enjoy indoors or outdoors. For others it may be risk or adventure or the excitement of exposure or the natural environment, and those people may logically prefer the outdoors all the time. Others may prefer the social atmosphere, the ease of access, or simply the fact that it seems safer, indoors.
I think it’s just a very personal thing what people’s preferences are, and of course, like you said Rhoads, it’s smart to consider those personal preferences in business planning.
A funny analogy though, that I often use in this conversation – is whether when people started swimming in man-made swimming pools… did the people who had been swimming before only in the ocean or lakes or ponds think the new users were dumbing down the activity of “swimming.” Of course that’s just one example and does not translate exactly – but still, amusing to consider.
For my part, I think only ocean swimmers are real swimmers… everyone else is just splashing around making noise and pissing in the pool.
Kidding of course… crossing the english channel is perhaps like climbing everest. Doing canon-balls or racing your friends underwater in the rec pool does not prepare you for crossing the english channel, but who cares – isn’t it fun for some people? And I guess, for my part, I don’t even think about whether they are ruining the sport of swimming… it just seems to me they are doing something fun that they enjoy… and most of them will never venture out for any “real swimming” anyhow.
word chris. also, note that talking smack on the internet is so totally dumbing down the practice of talking smack in real life. some of us practice on the internet to hone our skills to demoralize and make people cry in real life, but some get stuck and just talk vicious smack online only and are totally civil in real life.
this is strange to me, since in-person smack talk was so important in shakespearian times and to rappers. you know, history.
interestingly, climbing gyms are a great place to practice talking smack to real people, but in a practice environment that is more real than the internet. it’s like a freaky middle earth. it’s not not real, yet not real ‘cuz it’s a climbing gym where nothing counts. this may be like swimming in man-made reservoirs? not really a pool, not really a natural lake, but great practice. weird.
my face hurts from fiduciary accounting and now i will go have a cookie.
Excellently said Chris.
Please let me clarify my “dumbing down” comment.
I would like a “climbing gym” to focus on climbing. Climbing has certain lifestyle qualities that I would like to see preserved. I think the problem with portraying climbing exclusively as fitness is that it creates a set of people who do not respect the inherent dangers of the sport or the environmental consciousness we have as climbers. There was a comment under the news article “I remember a time when 5.9 was considered tough…then along came climbing gyms and 5.11 climbers who don’t know how to coil a rope ;-)”
It is important to remember that climbing is much more than physical activity or a workout, it’s better than that and that is why I like it.
Movement can go either way, it is the whole package that creates the atmosphere that I look for when choosing a great climbing gym from a lame one, the facility itself doesn’t really matter.
A troubling trend that I saw at the CWA conference was that everyone was asking “How can we make more money?” instead of “How can I make my climbing gym great?” I say with greatness money will come.
Sock hands – love the banter.. classic as always. Only could be so well-developed in western ny.
Rhoads – I am in total agreement. The best climbing gyms will be those that create the most complete package and offer the best products to a wide range of users based on their market, and if they do that well – money will come indeed. Maintaining and promoting the unique nature of climbing as an activity is essential and even more than that – a great opportunity for climbing gyms to make money. That is part of the reason why I am such an advocate of very well-developed movement instruction programs that share that unique nature with new climbers.
And I also agree that the most important crossover with the indoor and outdoor world revolves around the question of inherent dangers of the activity and environmental stewardship.
I think some people may see a gym like Movement and think it will have as it’s primary mission, “simply” climbing as fitness, in part because the non-climbing oriented workout spaces (fitness apparatus, yoga, etc) are so substantive. I totally agree that selling or portraying climbing only as, or primarily as fitness, would limit not only the presentation of the activity to experienced and new users, but the opportunities for the business.
Since we’re talking about Movement in particular, I think (and this is my own perspective – not me speaking for the gym) the people running the gym, in strategy and operation – will not in any way “push” climbing simply as fitness, but rather have the goal of having a comprehensive fitness facility where climbing is central. Climbing + fitness, rather than climbing = fitness. For some, in Movement and elsewhere, climbing may be just a fitness work-out and businesses may be smart to at least serve those customers as they do others, but I don’t think Movement will focus on doing that as any substitute for offering climbing as a primary, exciting, and entirely unique activity in itself – far more than just fitness.
We’ll see when they open! It will certainly be an exciting year in the indoor climbing world in Boulder.
I think all the silver spoon fed trusters in Boulder will flock to Movement because they want to be seen by the Boulder elite. $70 is a pretty cheap pricetag considering the status a membership brings.
fact, $70 in the denver/boulder area for a month pass/ membership is not absurd. It is the going rate for most, and while absurd still within grasp of most peoples wallet.
the newest bouldering gym in denver is $55 a month with a $150 start up fee.
Rockn and Jamn in Denver, has a 70 month pass, and 60 dollars a month membership with a 25 start up fee.
Sorry folks out there, Denver/Boulder has a price to play indoors. The spot is $15 a session, and this in all honesty is nothing compared to the $20 a session in the gym I visit in St Louis when I visit my parents.
Fact – Climbing gyms are built to make money, and owners will do what it takes to make that money. Wouldnt you in their place? To quote “Make money, money, take money, money!”
what’s rad is that folks who only go to climbing gyms for fitness tend not to be pushers. they stop when they bleed and they never commit to savage moves.
why is this rad, you ask?
well, because v7 sending will always be impressive to these folks. therefore, v7 senders have a niche where they can still feel good about themselves and share beta and feel like a superstar, even though the baseline has now been risen to v12+.
so, while the gym-only folks may not show up to stewardship events, neither do the strongmos, and at least the gym-only folks still think that i… er… v7ers are ULTRA FRIGGEN RADGNAR!
Well, it turns out with a little snooping that my wife’s gym membership (in Madison) is, guess what, $69 a month. So I guess it’s in line, esp if they have other stuff. I take back what I said. ce
Thanks to Rhoads, Chris and everyone else who commented for their perspectives!
The BRC is making moves…
firstly: wow! This has got to be the first civilized internet debate since Al Gore invented blogs, I commend you all for not calling each other retards.
secondly: I am an ignorant foreign student, and I would like to learn more of your ways. You guys seem like experts on the subject, so maybe you could enlighten me on the matter of where I can find the best combo of climbing (preferably rock AND plastic) and attending a university (industrial design to be specific)?
thirdly: you are all retards for not converting to the metric system.