“We wanted to be able to evolve in this sport, but we were limited by the existent wall, that covered some 12sqm. At first, we decided to set up a climbing wall for practice to meet European standards. The idea gained magnitude, and we own at the moment, apart from trainers, also panels for beginners and intermediate trainees,” said Bogdan Micu one of the Natural High Climbing Gym’s pioneers.

Although is considered extreme sport, climbing is an enjoyable activity, new in Romania, that helps in building muscle tonus. “Very less aspects of this sport may considered as extreme. They take place in full safety conditions, with special cords and controlled settings,” he added.

Gym climbing required an own investment of EUR 120,000, in a location leased for six years. The sports itself was the main focus since the beginning, profit coming second. “Even if today everybody is guiding by profitability tests, and almost nobody invests in something that will have a return of investment in maximum 10-12 years, we had the courage to defy rules” Micu explained.

They aimed at having the biggest climbing wall in Romania

Although they did not have any previous experience in business field, young climbers carried out with the investment in a gym included in Romanian Federation of Climbing circuit, that will soon be included in international circuit.

The climbing wall, that covers 600 sqm was designed for all types of climbers, starting with beginners to advanced, with over 50 possible tracks and different difficulty levels. The wall can bear 60 persons simultaneously and a monthly flow of 300 subscribers.

The investment focused on gear. Plugs, that account for 7,000, were imported from Belgium, a part of the cords and climbing footwear were imported from France and attachement harness from Czech.

There was also considered the possibility of providing classes for beginners and classes of improving climbing skills, with authorized trainers included in Mountain Guides’ Association in Romania, but also fitting the leisure space with a minibar. The gym’s program is daily between 16:00 and 22:00.

“At the opening day, the gym was full of visitors. Although there was no starting business plan or cash flow, it seems it will have a great success,” Micu added, saying he did not expected 180 persons to arrive at the opening night.

The monthly expenditures, including the rent and maintenance staff costs were estimated at EUR 1,800, and incomes following to derive from subscriptions mainly; activities will cost approximately EUR 500 monthly, given the primary estimations.

Subscriptions will be made according to entries number. An entry costs RON 15, four entries RON 50, eight entries RON 70, and for unlimited acces the fee will be RON 90.

“We forecast 100 monthly subscribers and EUR 40,000 turnover for first year of activity,” project’s manager explained.

He estimates that monthly incomes will mount to EUR 3,500, with EUR 1,200-1,700 monthly profit. Thus, investment will recover in a very long interval, Micu stressing that the “gym was not designed for profit”.

Future plans: wall climbing classes in universities and highschools

The company initiated a marketing campaign in Brasov, designed to sports fans, climbers and to those who love the mountain. Main target audience: youngster and children.

“The promotion must target a specific market segment and we framed a marketing campaign environing these main directions. We posted billboards and flyers in high traffic areas, mountain clubs and specialized stores,” Natural High manager said.

The promotion was carried out through activities conducted on site, with mobile walls, and classes for children. Investments will mount up to 10% of the monthly profit, and the initial invesment of EUR 5,000.

As for future plans, the pioneers of the project, would want climbing to be accesible in gym classes within universities and highschools and business’ presence in mass-media to be made by already well-known sports events.

“We will try to include climbing in gym classes of highschool and universities. We will organize Press Cup, Highschool Cup and other contests in national and international circuit,” Micu mentioned.

For the moment, the business of wall climbing will remain in Brasov, the company planning on setting up a gym specially designed to this sports with European funds. “In Brasov only, we will forward a proposition to City Hall, to lease the space we intend to build on,” he added.

Translated and adapted by Camelia Oancea.