The state of software for climbing gyms

15 08 2008

When I started blogging about software for indoor rock climbing gyms back in 2006, there wasn’t much available in the arena of rock gym software. Just two short years later I’m amazed at how much has changed — a number of existing companies have spun off their health club management software into more specialized climbing gym applications, and I’m sure more are on the way.

As someone who has been developing and selling software for climbing gyms for over a year, this is very encouraging for me — contrary to what one might think, competition is good…it means that there’s actually a market for the product or service.

Signs of Growth

My first clue that this was a market searching for a viable product came at the first annual Climbing Wall Association Summit in 2007. During the summit, Vertical Relief Enterprises led a workshop on using their software to manage a rock climbing gym. The eye opening part for me occurred during the Q&A session — I couldn’t believe how many climbing gym managers were dissatisfied, even disgusted, with the software they were using.

Just one year later, at the 2008 Climbing Wall Summit, there was some great constructive discussion among climbing wall managers and representatives from three software companies about the real needs in climbing gym software.

So where do we stand now?

Well, it appears that climbing gym managers now have a few viable options when choosing software to help them manage billing, memberships, check-ins, and wall activity.

The newest entry for commercial climbing gyms is Rock Gym Pro, created by Andy Laakmann from Wyoming. I met Andy at the CWA Summit, and he seems like he has a great no-nonsense mindset about how software should work. I haven’t tried RGP, but I would bet it’s worth a look if you run a decently-sized commercial gym.

The best option for recreation centers and university climbing gyms is ClimbPoint. As the creator, I may be a little biased when gushing about how simple and intuitive it is to use, but others seem to agree.

There are also a number of health club management solutions that some climbing gyms seem to be working with. Among them are Club Sentry, Gym Assistant and Check Free / Aphelion. FirmPOS was also in this boat just a couple years ago, but now seems to have a special version tailored to climbing gyms.

The future

While there are a number of offerings available now, I believe we’ve only scratched the surface in truly streamlining climbing wall management. I expect that ClimbPoint will be on the cutting edge in developing creative solutions for climbing walls, and with the increase in players in this market, I’m hopeful that the real winner will be climbers and climbing wall managers.

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