Can climbing gym be profitable?

In the last post climbing gym memberships we mentioned article Rethinking Climbing Gym Memberships by Andy Laakmann who is the creator of Rock Gym Pro software solution. Thus, it would not be completely unreasonable to guess that he might have an idea what gyms are dealing with in regards to membership enrollment size and other business related numbers.

Based on his comments to the forum post one can conclude that small gyms have 300+ and really big ones 3000+ members.

We know one big climbing gym that has its 250 spots parking lot full between 5 pm and 10 pm. People commute, use bikes and public transportation, that gives us 250×1.5=400 people. On average people climb 2 – 3 hours, 2 “shifts” from 5 to 10 pm give us 400×2=800, plus morning and lunch visitors, total around 1000 visitors per day. Most people climb 2-3 days a week, gives us clientele size 2,000-3,000. Some of those 2000-3000 are one-timers, but still, it is quite possible that the gym might have around 2,000 – 2,500 members.

3000 members can bring about $300,000, plus one-timers/kids/rent/etc bring about $200,000, together probably around $500,000 ( gives hypothetical revenue example $750,000). The insurance rate for climbing facilities is typically between 2 – 3% of the revenues ($10,000-20,000). Need to subtract facility fees, rent, repair, equipment, staff compensations and such, which is probably around 100K for a big gym. The (speculative, we admit) numbers do not look too bad for the big gym, but not so great (money wise) for the gyms with less than 1000 members (especially if you have to return the loan to the bank). Andy somewhat confirms that climbing gym is tough business:

Running an profitable climbing gym is hard, far harder and far costlier than most people realize. Climbers who have access to a profitable and well-run gym should consider themselves lucky.

Andy’s makes another interesting comment:

Gyms draw their clientele from a 20 minute radius of middle and upper middle class folks between the ages of 20-45.

It follows from it that for a new gym to have a success it better be located a) in densely populated area and b) people in the area should be interested in sport activities and be able to afford visiting gyms. Well, that is not really a secret or surprise. See the map mentioned in our post, in the US gyms in are grouped in clusters around metro areas where mostly upper middle class people live.

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