Boulder gym climbing walls double as "research lab"

Uprising Boulder Gym owner Sefton Priestley in the climbing room where customers test new climbing holds.
Dean Kozanic

Uprising Boulder Gym owner Sefton Priestley in the climbing room where customers test new climbing holds.

The Uprising Boulder Gym has a double purpose: providing challenging indoor terrain for climbers and useful research and development information for its owners.

The closure of the popular YMCA climbing wall in the CBD prompted Sefton Priestley and his business partner Vaughan Jones to open the new climbing gym beside The Tannery shopping complex in Woolston in June. 

Priestley freely admitted R&D was a powerful motive too. Their other company, Uprising Climbing Holds, manufactures climbing holds in Christchurch and sells them globally, with Clip 'N Climb entertainment centres being a major customer.

He said Uprising Boulder Gym climbers provided instant feedback on the thousands of colourful climbing holds dotting the walls.

"We lost count somewhere around the 10,000 mark. The cool thing is that a huge number of holds are prototypes or test shapes that don't exist anywhere else in the world.

READ MORE: Uprising Climbing Holds: Business against the wall

"It's not just a great gym, it's also a cutting edge testing facility where we will create new shapes and test them straight away. With the opening of the gym we have expanded up to 500 shapes."

The climbing community also played a big part in developing the new gym. 

"We wouldn't have been able to do this without that buy-in from the climbing community. We do our best to listen to them and get their input.

"We really wanted to set up something that was more focussed towards adults, people who are already climbers and people who are a bit bored with the gym and wanted a workout that challenged their brains as well as their muscles.

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"We found the balance between a facility where you can go to learn how to climb and being the premier training facility for climbers in the country."

The gym offers free one hour introductory coaching sessions for beginners, "chicks n' chalk" climbfit classes for women, online booking, regular gym equipment and swipe card access for members.

Priestley said the package was appealing for those who wanted to fit in climbing around their busy lives and the social aspects of a climbing gym were a plus.

"Boulder gyms are the fastest part of indoor climbing worldwide. With rope climbing you need a climbing partner to hold the rope, you have to organise someone to go with and you have to have a harness.

"With a boulder gym you just come along and get into it. It's very social. It's not as much of an adventure adrenaline experience, but it's a really fun workout."

Priestley said franchising Uprising Boulder Gym was part of their longer term plans.

"Once we have a real grip as to how the [climbing] community wants these facilities to be, we'll be in a position to expand the 'uprising' around the country."

 - Stuff

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