A few weeks back we took a trip to the World Indoor Climbing Summit, it was an awesome experience, so we wanted to tell you all about it!
Heading to Sofia
Boarding the plane to the World Indoor Climbing Summit (WICS), hosted by Walltopia in the beautiful city of Sofia, we were really excited to meet the people behind some of the outstanding centres we’d had the opportunity to visit, as well as the indoor climbing community from across the world.
In the weeks leading up to leaving for Bulgaria, it began to feel like it may have been a mistake to make the decision to go. With so much work going on at the centre to have everything ready for our opening date, it seemed as though we didn’t really have the time to be taking trips to Europe. On our return, however, after a wonderful week of learning, meeting new people, and, of course, the visit to the Walltopia factory to see our walls being built, we knew we’d made the right choice.
One of the best parts about the summit was the opportunity to share our own ideas about how we would like to do things, and get feedback on what might work better. We got to learn how operations vary between different cities and countries, and, in the final instance, feel reassured that we’ve already got a lot of things right. Learning of all the new developments in the indoor climbing industry, as well as the exciting new tech that was in the pipeline was a real highlight of the trip. We wanted to use the trip as a learning experience, to enable us to provide a great centre for you all, with the help of our new friends in Sofia!
5 things we learned at WICS
- There’s a lot of enthusiasm and excitement in the indoor climbing industry at the moment from all across the world. Interest in the sport is growing rapidly. Inclusion in the Olympics is definitely a factor but the access to modern indoor climbing centres is also a chief contributor. There’s a new kind of climber who gets their first experience climbing by bouldering indoors, and a growing number never climb outside. This is because bouldering is just so easy to turn up and do- you need no experience and you can do it on your own. Plenty of people also now look to bouldering as a fun alternative to going to the gym
- Some people argued that massive centres that cater to every aspect of climbing were the way forward, but there were also people telling us that focussed spaces are what works best. We wanted to make our space super inclusive and accessible to beginner’s so we thought a dedicated bouldering centre worked best with our philosophy. Our Fun Wall gives kids a really exciting introduction to climbing too (while also including a speed wall so we can all get competitive!)
- It might be obvious, but successful gyms are the ones where people want to come back time and again. At WICS we became even more certain in our view that we want to create a community here where people are comfortable, confident and look forward to spending time here doing more than just climbing. That’s why we’ve made a lot of room for our café; we wanted a space where everyone could get to know each other over a good coffee.
- There’s more tech surrounding the industry than we’d appreciate. Most notably in the development of holds where there’s some really advanced research going in to man made materials. This is so we can make our holds strong, lasting and not wear down. With different companies all researching this it was impossible to take photo’s but it was striking to us that the conditions in the hold factory resembled that of a science lab.
- The climbing community is incredibly friendly; everyone wanted to help us out, and give us support and advice. It’s unlike most other industries we’ve worked in. We hope the friendliness of the climbing community can filter down and come through in our centre too, because we think it’s one of the things that makes this sport so unique!