Founders are behind similar gyms in Austin, Seattle
For Will Hanson, bouldering could be one of the next big sports.
Hanson is one of the founders of gyms in Seattle, Austin and now Minneapolis that specialize in bouldering, a form of climbing without ropes or harnesses. The sport is gaining traction with young climbers and is even set to get its Olympic debut at the 2020 games in Tokyo. Hanson’s gym, the Minneapolis Bouldering Project, is set to give local climbers, from beginners to trained athletes, a home base along the riverfront near the North Loop and Near North neighborhoods on West River Road.
Hanson, a Minnesota native and a climber himself, said bouldering, which has climbers take to nearly 18-foot padded walls with foam floors below, is an approachable sport for young kids and adults.
“Having never done it before, you can walk in and we can give you a pair of shoes, give you a short little orientation and you can go and do it,” he said. “Climbing is really intimidating for a lot people. It’s got that extreme sport moniker. So we try to remove that level of intimidation, and bouldering is a really good way to do that.”
Hanson and the gym’s co-founders have opened similar gyms in Seattle and Austin that on top of the large climbing walls, combine yoga studios, fitness studios, saunas and weight rooms under one membership. Minneapolis Bouldering Project will also include a mezzanine lounge with Internet and a youth-specific area for young athletes and their coaches. Hanson envisions the gym hosting youth competitions.
“A lot of our business is we just introduce people to the sport, and we try to do it in an inclusive, welcoming manner. But then we also want to cater to that core climbing community that come in to train…,” he said.
The gym will offer monthly memberships that will be in the ballpark of $68-$70 for adults and $12-$18 for kids. Minneapolis Bouldering Project will offer shoe rental — the climbers use a ballet-like shoes to grip footholds — and day passes.
The more than 40,000-square-foot gym will be located just north of Plymouth Avenue near the North Loop neighborhood in a building that is set to welcome a taproom and brewery from Pryes Brewing later this year. Hanson expects the gym will pull from the North Loop neighborhood and the nearby Northeast Minneapolis neighborhoods, though it will also be a destination for climbers from around the Twin Cities.
Minneapolis Bouldering Project is slated to open this fall at 1433 W. River Road N.
“I think climbing is going to continue to be really successful. It’s becoming much more mainstream,” Hanson said.