Private climbing halls in full swing

Momentary fashion or real swell? Climbing is taking place at great speed in France, driven by private rooms more comfortable than the old gyms, which are attracting more and more followers.

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really the popular sport of the moment”, estimates Zoé Armbruster, suspended with the blue shots of the bright room of Arkose Nation in Paris.

The 33-year-old climber, who started out in the United States, was disappointed when she returned to settle in the French capital six years ago. To continue, she had to register with a federation. But recently, the number of private rooms has “it blew up, it’s crazy, everyone is getting in! “.

“Over the last five years, there has clearly been an acceleration confirms Grégoire de Belmont, and that’s felt inside Arkose: the chain, which he co-founded in 2013, now has 21 rooms and plans to open four more in 2023. His Nation “climbing loft,” with its industrial glass roof, large sofas, its restaurant and its microbrewery, is emblematic of these new private rooms, which offer for the most part bouldering walls, where climbing without insurance, especially young CSP+ workers from 25 to 35 years old.

France now has some 200 trading rooms and more than half have been developed “the last ten years”, according to Ghislain Brillet, president of the youth union of the Climbing Walls Union. In two decades, the sector has gone from a few isolated rooms run by fans to large networks of actors, each with their line, more sporty or silly. “Number 1 in number of rooms is Climb’Up (29 rooms), in billing is Arkose”, details Mr. Brillet, “then we find behind, in a pocket handkerchief, Vertical’Art, the Altissimo and Block-Out string halls.”

What explains this success? The strong media presence since climbing entered the Olympic Games, the diversity and friendliness of the climbing walls

To explain this boom, Mr. Brillet evokes a strong media presence since the entry of climbing into the Olympic Games, the fact that this sport “completely mixed” let “men and women, beginners and experienced to practice together” and the “sociality” places compared to low cost gyms.

For him, the market has been able to build itself in complementarity with the French Mountaineering and Climbing Federation, where the routes rarely change and places are limited. “Here it is super flexible, we can go from here to there for an hour, it is much more compatible with our way of life. confirms Zoé Armbruster, who is also grateful to be able “bouldering training”when the FFME essentially offers the route.

Benefits that its president Alain Carrière does not deny, who, like many of the 110,000 licensees, also goes up in private rooms. Not governed by commercial logic, the saturated Federation struggles against a lack of means, but has an advantage “having large clubs in small provincial towns, which will never have private rooms “. “It’s a bit like two opposite worlds working together. summarizes Jules Delourme, spokesperson for Vertical’Art.

According to a study by Union Sport et Cycle, private rooms account for some 350 million euros of cumulative turnover in 2022, but the climbing market -between purchases/rentals of equipment and sports tourism- accumulates more than 650 million euro. and this market “most profitable sector” for manufacturers of sports equipment with “huge margins” goes “keep increasing”believes the sports sociologist Éric Boutroy, thanks to the exchange rooms, “main mover today for the rock climbing boom

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