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Conquer Climbing encourages residents to reach new heights

BusinessConquer Climbing encourages residents to reach new heights

Mike Churey, has been rock climbing and bouldering for the past 15 years and has always dreamed of owning his own climbing gym.

The climber, who is a Burlington resident, recently celebrated the grand opening of his gym Conquer and Climbing on January 13, 2024, and since then, he’s garnered around 125 members ranging from ages five to 63.

“We had our soft opening on December 18, 2023 and then on January 13 we had the Mayor, MP, MPP and around 150 people who came out to the grand opening,” said Churey. “We also had a big competition that day and we had Temptation Kitchen come in and make waffles for us and that was all super fun.”

With just under 3,000 square feet of bouldering space, Churey describes Conquer Climbing primarily as a bouldering gym.

“It’s climbing without ropes, and so we have 16-inch mats beneath the 16-feet-tall walls, though not all climbing problems go all the way up. Usually, if you can climb a ladder, you can definitely climb something in here,” he chuckled. “We also have four auto belays as well, it’s a little bit more of a gentle climb and if you’re nervous about falling, it lowers you down automatically which is really nice.”

Conquer Climbing employee, Owen Van Leeuwen, smiles behind the café counter on Saturday, January 20, 2024.

The gym also hosts various events, features a lounge area with a couch and games, a small café with coffee and pastries, children’s party room, yoga space, and a fitness room for those looking for a full body workout to add to their routine. 

Churey said that he is also working on getting the back-ordered holds for the gym’s Kilter board. The board can be adjusted anywhere from five degrees to 70 degrees automatically and features customizable problems.

“It’s cool because no matter where you use a Kilter Board around the world, all of the holes on the board are standardized and it’s the exact same pattern,” said Churey. “You can connect your phone and you can pick one of the over 100,000 problems and it will light up the holds for that specific problem.”

Guests check out Conquer Climbing’s nearly 3,000 square feet of bouldering space on Saturday, January 20, 2024.

The board is meant to help strong climbers challenge themselves.

“We don’t have a lot of problems that are meant for someone who is a super strong climber, but we have so many new climbers, and so 95 per cent of the climbs are for someone who is somewhat new,” he said. “Having the Kilter Board fully set up allows those people who are close to a pro level, to climb at their level with thousands of problems.”

Conquer Climbing has a variety of day pass and memberships options for both students, adults and families, as well as options to buy or rent climbing shoes and accessories. Yoga classes will also soon be available in multi-week or drop-in programs.

The Burlington resident decided to open his business in Brantford after spending time in the city, and seeing that there was something missing.

“I worked in Brantford for years and back in the day I did a lot of volunteer work with United Way,” said Churey. “So, I always knew about the city and in the past ten years, the demographics have been changing and the city has grown a lot. There just wasn’t really any indoor wintertime activity like this.”

“Around 15 years ago, I went climbing with ten of my friends at Climber’s Rock in Burlington,” he said. “I climbed that first day and two days later I bought a membership.”

Churey said he’s been hooked ever since.

“I love the physical aspect of it, it’s a great workout for your body but it’s also a great mental workout too. You really have to figure out how the holds are set up and how you’re going to use your body to climb up, and you have to think about all of that before you even get up on the wall,” he said. “It’s also a great social sport because you could be a terrible climber and be standing right next to an amazing climber, but you could both be talking about the same thing. For me, those are the three components that really make it kind of a special sport.”

Guests take a peek at Conquer Climbing’s fitness room on Saturday, January 20, 2024.

Churey spent two years searching for an indoor spot that worked and when he finally found his Dalkeith Drive location, he quickly began taking the next steps to build up his climbing gym.

Since opening, the owner says the coolest thing he is seeing is the newer members that are growing an interest.

“Some people are here six times a week, and they might only climb for 20 minutes, but they’re also just hanging out,” said Churey. “They’ll have a coffee or they’re just talking with their new friends that they made climbing here. So for me, that’s the coolest thing because no matter how nice you make a place, you can’t force connections and community like that. It’s neat to see it really taking off that way and it makes me happy.”

As for those who are already involved in the climbing community, he says they have expressed their gratitude.

“So far people have been excited and the response has been good. For the climbers who live in Brantford, they’ve either been driving to Hamilton or to Cambridge and so they have been saving gas money alone,” he chuckled.

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