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On Friday, Earth Treks opened the largest climbing gym in the United States, but they don’t want that to intimidate you.
The fitness company’s vast, 53,000-square-foot complex took over the old Sports Authority headquarters in Englewood, which has been empty since the retailer shuttered in 2016. The Englewood facility—Earth Trek’s second Colorado gym; the first location is in Golden—features 55-foot climbing walls with 10-foot ceiling overhang extensions, a yoga studio, a fully-equipped fitness area (think standard weight lifting and cardio machines) and even the company’s first child-care center.
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The enormity of the space is meant to be accommodating, rather than daunting, says marketing director Tori Barnett. From casual yogis and extreme climbers to couch potatoes looking for some excitement, the new gym is designed to support visitors of all levels. “Our hope is that every single person who walks into this facility feels welcome and excited,” says Barnett, who insists climbing can be for everyone. “It’s approachable if you are three years old or 103 years old.”
Still, considering the company’s founder, Chris Warner, is a lifelong climber and professional mountaineer, whose conquests include Everest and K2, “approachable” may not be the first word that comes to mind when you look up at the looming climbing walls. Warner founded Earth Treks as an expedition guide company in the 1990s, but after a life-changing experience on Alaska’s Denali, transitioned it to the indoor climbing company that today includes 11 facilities in five states.
Last year, Earth Treks merged with Planet Granite, and plans to open gyms under both names in the coming years. As in Englewood, many of these gyms will be repurposed spaces. Already, the company has renovated an old tennis and racquetball facility, multiple historic buildings, and even an empty movie theater. Right now, it has its sights sets on Chicago.
Barnett says that when considering new areas for expansion, Earth Treks “looks at the communities there to see if they would support it or want it.” Earth Trek’s newest facility came after the company decided to deliver more gyms to the Mile High City. “The Denver metro area has always been great to us,” Barnett says. Englewood was an easy choice: “People in Englewood love adventure and fitness.” The ability to repurpose the massive space vacated by Sports Authority was just an added benefit.
A day-long event on September 22 will celebrate the gym’s opening and give thanks to the Englewood community for welcoming Earth Treks and bearing with the months of construction. Free open climbs and clinics will take place throughout the day, and a DJ will help transition the gathering into a full-fledge party in the evening. Barnett hopes the event will be an opportunity for first-timers to try climbing in a safe, welcoming environment.
“We just want to invite people in and show our passion for this,” she says.
If you go: 1050 W. Hampden Ave., Englewood