Should You Add a Climbing Wall to Your Fitness Facility?

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  • Should You Add a Climbing Wall to Your Fitness Facility?

A rock climbing wall can be a fun, safe and interactive attraction for your gym or fitness facility, that will bring in potential members looking for something more than treadmills and weight machines.  There are a number of *companies out there who will design and build custom rock climbing walls for your facility, or sell you pre-fabricated, modular versions that you can have installed within just a day or two. (*I am not affiliated with any of them.)  Facilities that choose to utilize this feature will have to consider the following issues.Climbing wall

First of all, expect to pay upwards of $20,000 for the simplest, most basic version.  Complex rock walls can run several hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, depending on a number of factors, such as:

  • Size, or square footage of surface;
  • Height – typically 20 to 45 feet;
  • Complexity – the simpler the design, the less expensive;
  • Access – how difficult it is to get the building materials to the site;
  • Type, whether modular, natural rock or gym rock;
  • Indoor or outdoor – outdoor walls may cost 25 to 50 percent more, depending on climate and working conditions during installation.

Many companies sell climbing wall packages, which include necessary climbing equipment, padded flooring options and safety training for staff members.  Get firm quotes from a number of different vendors as part of your decision making process, in order to more effectively crunch the numbers.

Additionally, a climbing wall also brings added liability to your facility, and you should consult with your insurance carrier before making any decisions.  Many lawsuits involving rock wall injuries have been related to negligent supervision, so you will need to make sure your staff is well trained and reliable.  You will also want to have a waiver drawn up, separate from the one you already use at your gym.

You will need to place your climbing wall in a location where it can be closed off to the public when the wall is unsupervised.  Preferably it should be in a locked room, but at the very least you should have some sort of chains and padlock arrangement, with clear signage to let people know it is not to be used unsupervised.

Depending on how much money you decide to spend on your climbing wall, you may want to charge an added membership cost, per-use fee, or simply include it with gym membership.  You will have to make that decision based on the cost of the wall and the added cost of insurance.

One good way to determine whether your members would be interested in a climbing wall is to ask them to fill out a short polling card as to whether they would use it, and whether they would be willing to pay extra for it.

Discussion

If you had a climbing wall installed at your facility:
1) Was it worth it?

2) Are there any issues or considerations that you would add to this post?

3) What do your members think?

If you are a member to a gym with this feature:

1)Is the climbing wall a strong factor in your membership at the facility?

 

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