Over the past decade, Mike and Anne-Worley Moelter have provided Front Range climbing enthusiasts with countless routes, yoga classes, and more through their three Movement Climbing + Fitness locations. This week, the Moelters announced that El Cap, the parent company of Earth Treks and Planet Granite gyms, acquired their three Colorado homegrown climbing gyms.
El Cap has been on an aggressive path since it formed in 2018 as the parent company of Planet Granite and Earth Treks, which merged in 2017. The merger created the largest network of climbing and bouldering gyms at the time, and even Alex Honnold, famous for free soloing the company’s namesake in Yosemite, joined the board of directors earlier this year.
Anne-Worley Moelter says the decision to merge with El Cap came after Movement’s RiNo bouldering gym opened in June of last year. Thinking about Movement’s growth moving forward, Moelter says she and her husband were long-time friends with Planet Granite’s leadership and started having conversations about possibly working together. The couple recognized El Cap’s commitment to advancing careers in the climbing industry, philanthropy and promoting community through their gyms across the country.
“El Cap reached out to us, and it was an obvious match,” Moelter says.
It’s good news for Front Ranger climbers, who, starting next week, can now use their monthly memberships at any of the five local gyms under the El Cap umbrella: Earth Trek’s Englewood and Golden locations and Movement’s RiNo, Boulder, and Baker gyms.
Moelter declined to disclose financial details of the deal, including the acquisition price and whether any of Movement’s three gyms are currently profitable.
Nationally, Moelter says the indoor climbing industry is still growing, but when it comes to local markets, it’s a slightly different story. Climbing and bouldering gyms have popped all over the Denver metro area recently. Stapleton’s Ubergrippen opened in 2017 and Englewood’s Earth Treks in 2018. Boulder’s the Spot Bouldering Gym expanded to Denver earlier this year, while EVO Rock +Fitness is building a new bouldering gym in Golden.
“The days of ‘Build it and they will come,’ those days are gone,” she says. “Every facility has to be very, very thoughtful about the product they’re providing. All our members and guests are more educated consumers.”
Moelter says Movement is keeping all its employees with the acquisition and planning to hire more. The Moelters are also staying involved in the business. Anne-Worley was named an El Cap board member and manager of partnerships with climbing organizations like USA Climbing. Meanwhile, Mike will continue scouting for good real estate options for expansion across the Front Range.
“The Movement name is staying for now,” she says. “El Cap is having conversations about what a unified brand might look like in the future.”
Climbers can also expect the same level of fun and challenging routes at Movement, as the brand’s director of routesetting, Ryan Sewell, is now overseeing routes at all five El Cap gyms in Colorado, Moelter says. Likewise, Movement is keeping its commitment to its robust fitness, including yoga and spin classes.
“Fitness is and always has been an incredibly important piece of what we do. We want them to be some of the best (classes) in town,” she says.
El Cap now has 16 gyms in Colorado, the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. areas, California, and Oregon.
“I would say the El Cap group is growing as strategically as possible. The intent is to not grab up facilities, or growth for growth’s sake,” she says.