Become A Member   |   Newsletter Sign-Up   |   Print Page   |   Sign In
Thrive - A Climbing Business Blog
Blog Home All Blogs
The Climbing Wall Association's blog is a place for indoor climbing professionals to find useful and relevant information from industry and business experts. Stay on top of best practices, thought leadership, and trends by subscribing to Thrive - A Climbing Business Blog! www.climbingwallindustry.org/lines

 

Search all posts for:   

 

Top tags: operations  leadership  management  staff training  coronavirus  COVID-19  company culture  risk management  community development  customer service  customer experience  human resources  programming  employee engagement  marketing  member communications  member retention  customer satisfaction  climbing culture  routesetting management  staff retention  youth team  youth training  coaching  routesetting  standards  member acquisition  OSHA  certifications  employee turnover 

Is More Stimulus Coming?

Posted By Garnet Moore, Tuesday, September 15, 2020
small business stimulus

The timeline for more federal coronavirus stimulus in the US has been delayed for at least a month, but there is still some chance that we will see legislation passed before November 3. A lot of the public discussion around stimulus pertains to unemployment benefits and Economic Impact Payments, and while those seem less likely to be included in any upcoming stimulus, there are several likely provisions that will help small businesses.

 

But first, here’s where we’re at in the negotiations. Additional stimulus has been actively discussed since the CARES act first passed on March 27. Very quickly, the House introduced the HEROES act which did not gain traction in the Senate. The Senate responded on July 27 by introducing the HEALS act, which pared the cost of the relief package and focused heavily on business needs.

 

The price tag on this bill was still in dispute and Senate Republicans crafted a new smaller proposal titled Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act. This proposal seems to indicate the direction that future relief packages may take focusing narrowly on certain sectors or interests rather than attempting to cover the needs of the entire country. This bill has not been successful yet and alternate packages are being discussed.

 

While a final bill may or may not incorporate some relief for climbing gym workers who are still experiencing unemployment, the possible areas of support for small business seem to be less contentious and there are several potential provisions that gym owners should be tracking:

  1. You may gain some extra protection from the liability of coronavirus related lawsuits. Excluding gross negligence, employers are likely to be shielded from many lawsuits. Potential complaints would have to demonstrate that any damages they incurred were due to exposure to coronavirus and that the business did not make reasonable efforts to comply with government standards or guidance.
  2. For small businesses with at least a 50% reduction in gross revenues there may be an option to secure another loan through the Paycheck Protection Program. Similar to the first instance of the PPP, these loans may be forgivable if significant portions are used for payroll costs.

    The exact rules are likely to continue to be discussed, but as of now, it is possible that these loans could equal 2.5 times your total monthly payroll cost for a defined period maxing out at $2 million.
  3. There may be an expansion of the Employee Retention Tax Credit to cover more workers, larger businesses, and lower the reduction in revenue needed to qualify. There is also the possibility that businesses could now make use of both this credit and the PPP, although not for the same payroll costs.
  4. This most recent bill did not include the possibility of automatic loan forgiveness for PPP loans less than $150,000 but this idea has broad support and may come back in future proposals.
  5. On a fun note, the HEALS act allowed for a 100% deduction of business meals through the end of 2020. This was missing in the latest proposal, however if it does return in future legislation make sure to cater a nice meal for your staff and support a local restaurant.

We will continue to monitor the status of stimulus for small businesses and advocate on behalf of the indoor climbing industry. There is still some chance that further aid will be available in the coming months, and as soon as more details are available, we will report on the key provisions that affect our industry.

 

Garnet Moore Head ShotAbout the Author

Garnet Moore is the Interim Executive Director at the Climbing Wall Association. Garnet brings more than a decade of experience in the climbing industry, serving gyms, manufacturers, and many climbing friends and partners.

 

Tags:  advocacy  coronavirus  COVID-19  finances  public policy  stimulus 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

Fostering Connection and Inspiration at the Survive & Thrive Workshop

Posted By Laura Allured, Monday, September 14, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Kristin Horowitz Marc Gutman Laura Allured

On September 2 and 3, 2020 the CWA hosted the Survive & Thrive Workshop, its first-ever all virtual workshop. The event was built to give gym owners and senior leadership a framework for success during COVID. 150 people from over 25 states and 3 countries, including more than 40 different gyms and 20 sponsors, joined online for two days jam-packed with learning and activities.

 

The “venue” in this case was a virtual event platform called Whova, a hub site where attendees could navigate to different sessions and also message other attendees, join virtual meetups, visit interactive sponsor pages, and contribute toward discussions on the lively Community Board. Community Board topics include, “Work from home parents,” “Diversifying climbing communities,” “gyms still closed,” “new pricing structures,” and “competition ideas.”

 

 

Day 1 kicked off with a keynote address by Sam Thiara, an expert business coach who emphasized the importance of CARE: Collaboration, Adaptability, Resilience, and Empathy. Attendees then had the option of joining Track 1 or Track 2, 90-minute deep dives into two areas: Adaptable Business Models and Leading Through Coronavirus. The track sessions were a mixed format of presentations, panels, and Q&A, with a robust virtual chat and question threads happening during presentations.

 

Day 2’s tracks focused on Financial Positioning & Self-Advocacy, with panelists from a variety of gym sizes, locations, and years in operation, and Marketing & Community Engagement. Each day also included breakout sessions into pre-assigned “pods” with names such as “Pod Belay!” “Pod Save the Queen,” and “Orange is the New Pod.” These fun pods provided a more intimate, confidential space for groups of 10-15 to open up and share challenges with one another. Problem Solving sessions also allowed pods to tackle a problem together using the interactive brainstorming tool, Miro, then a delegate from each pod presented their takeaways.

 

Financial Survival and Advocacy

 

The two days of live programming wrapped up with a closing keynote with business coach, Marc Koehler presenting on how to build a strong team culture, and a special guest speaker, Tommy Caldwell, speaking on overcoming adversity. Attendees walked away with more confidence, more connections, and new skills to tackle very immediate issues facing their gyms. One attendee wrote, “Magical occasion to connect and exchange with other people from the industry in #2020craziness. 14/10 would recommend!”

 

Additional activities include a photo contest, leaderboard to show those who were most engaged, a sponsor passport contest, sponsor and raffle and giveaways, running through the end of the month! Raffle prizes include holds, volumes, massage chairs, climbing gear, and more.

 

Purchase an On-Demand Ticket to watch this valuable content and gain access to the interactive ecosystem. Once on the platform, you’ll have access to the content and networking tools for the next 6 months! Ticket sales end September 30.

 

LEARN MORE

 

Tags:  advocacy  business development  community development  company culture  coronavirus  COVID-19  customer experience  diversity  employee engagement  financing  human resources  JEDI  marketing  member acquisition  member communications  member retention  programming  public policy  regulations  risk management  staff retention  staff training  virtual events 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

How to Self-Advocate to Local Health Authorities

Posted By Climbing Wall Association, Thursday, July 16, 2020
Local Health Departments

If you own and/or operate a climbing facility you are probably facing the question: “When will I reopen?”

 

Everyone’s circumstances are unique - some gyms have already reopened, some may have been forced to reclose, others may not have received much guidance at all. If you feel that your state or locality’s decisions are not representative of your gym’s overall preparedness or public health and safety measures, there are some steps that you can take to initiate a dialogue with those agencies to help communicate your readiness to open and your care for public health.

 

1. Find out who your local health authorities are and how best to contact them.

2. Organize your data and your thoughts

Make sure that you have your data organized and your thoughts laid out. For example, here are some talking points to consider when you are building your case on why climbing gyms should be permitted to resume operations in your area:

  • Risk management is inherently a part of climbing and a part of operating a climbing gym. Climbers trust science (it protects their lives with every ascent) and understand the importance of carefully evaluating risk and taking recommended and tested steps to mitigate it. Unlike the public, climbers and climbing gym operators are uniquely positioned to adapt to and embrace new risk management measures to keep themselves and their entire community as safe as possible.
    • You manage risk every day and instruct your visitors what risks are present and how you expect them to cooperate to mitigate these risks.
    • Your visitors regularly comply with your policies while actively assuming some of the risks associated with climbing.
  • Evidence shows that coronavirus is difficult to catch from surfaces, and primarily transfers directly from person to person. This means that in terms of contact transmission, climbing gyms pose no more of a threat than does any other activity where one opens doors, picks things up, uses equipment, etc., when hand sanitizing and social distancing measures are applied.
    • Dr. John Whyte, chief medical officer for the health care website WebMD, says that the CDC's slight update brings clarity and helps to reduce fears. “Many people were concerned that by simply touching an object they may get coronavirus, and that’s simply not the case. Even when a virus may stay on a surface, it doesn’t mean that it’s actually infectious,” Whyte said. “I think this new guideline helps people understand more about what does and doesn’t increase risk. It doesn’t mean we stop washing hands and disinfecting surfaces. But it does allow us to be practical and realistic as we try to return to a sense of normalcy."
  • Highlight any measures your climbing gym is taking, such as:
    • Installing hand cleaning stations at frequent intervals
    • Making changes to your physical layout to help with distancing
    • Enforcing social distancing
    • Limiting gym capacity beyond what local laws allow
    • Requiring climbers to book time slots to control the amount of people in the gym
    • Taking temperatures prior to entry and asking health screening questions
    • Playing reminders between songs over the loudspeakers, asking climbers to please respect social distancing measures and to sanitize your hands before and after climbs
    • Requiring staff to wear masks
    • Requiring climbers to wear masks

3. CWA Roadmap to Reopening

You can use the CWA Roadmap to Reopening as a framework to record your own COVID-19 specific plan if you have not already documented your policies. Having a set of procedures, analyses, and protocols in writing will help demonstrate how seriously you take the situation and give the presiding authority a way to analyze your readiness to reopen or remain open.

 

In some areas, gyms have grouped together to present cohesive and non-contradicting plans to their governments. This may help drive your regulators to see climbing gyms as distinct from other businesses and help ease any decisions around closing and opening.

 

VIEW ROADMAP

 

4. CWA Reopening Position Paper

We have published an official position paper, which can be used as part of a packet of information you provide to your health authorities. The paper presents the CWA’s views on reopening climbing gyms. It includes information to help public health officials understand the nature of the activities in a climbing gym, the history and culture of risk management in our industry, and the work that the CWA and many individual businesses have already done to identify and address new risks related to COVID-19.

 

DOWNLOAD PAPER

 

5. Get in touch!

After you find out who is making decisions about your business, give them a call or email. They are there to represent you and your community, and they will be willing to talk – even if they are overburdened and strapped for time. It just may take a few tries and some patience.

 

You can also leverage your local business support organizations such as an SBDC or a chamber of commerce. The organization that is best positioned to help depends on what level of government you need to contact.

 

Better yet, if you, your members, or any other gyms in your state have connections to lobbyists or representatives, find out how to make that connection personal. Networking is a very effective tool in these situations.

 

Tags:  advocacy  coronavirus  COVID-19  leadership  public policy  risk management 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

An Open Letter to Congress for Further Financial Relief Measures

Posted By Climbing Wall Association, Friday, July 10, 2020
Open Letter to Congress

The following is a letter written by the Climbing Wall Association to Members of Congress regarding COVID-19. The letter recommends the passage of high-priority financial relief measures that would help address the threat the ongoing pandemic poses to small businesses, including climbing gyms. A PDF version of the letter is available for download.

 

RE: URGENT REQUEST TO CONGRESS TO PASS THE HEALTH AND ECONOMIC RECOVERY OMNIBUS EMERGENCY SOLUTIONS ACT, THE PANDEMIC RISK INSURACE ACT, AND ADDRESS COMMERCIAL RENT ASSISTANCE FOR CLIMBING GYMS AND OTHER SMALL BUSINESSES

Dear Secretary Mnuchin, Speaker Pelosi and Leaders McConnell, Schumer and McCarthy:

 

We are grateful Congress extended funds through expanded Small Business Administration (SBA) loans and grants within the recent Senate proposals. We are deeply concerned, however, that the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and the severity of the economic impacts of extended closures and reduced capacity operations will require more urgent relief measures for small businesses.

 

As you know, employers everywhere are permanently closing due to financial distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Climbing gyms are no exception. The indoor climbing gym industry has been growing year-over-year for over 20 years and was forecasted to be an almost $1 billion industry in 2020. Climbing gyms and other fitness and recreational facilities all face severe layoffs and the threat of bankruptcy during this crisis. This has affected, and will affect, tens of thousands of Americans. Through no fault of their own, climbing gyms are losing their ability to provide for members and employees due to lost revenue on account of massive forced public safety closures and reduced capacity operations. Climbing gyms and other such facilities rely on memberships and active visits for survival.

 

The Climbing Wall Association (CWA) and its membership ask for Congress and the Administration to urgently pass the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, which we hope will support the industry and its employees, who live and work in practically every Congressional District, in enduring the present COVID-19 pandemic crisis. The HEROES Act includes, but is not limited to the following measures:

  • Provides additional direct payments of up to $1,200 per individual
  • Expands paid sick days, family and medical leave, unemployment compensation, nutrition and food assistance programs, housing assistance, and payments to farmers
  • Modifies and expands the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides loans and grants to small businesses and nonprofit organizations
  • Establishes a fund to award grants for employers to provide pandemic premium pay for essential workers
  • Expands several tax credits and deductions
  • Provides funding and establishes requirements for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing
  • Eliminates cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatments
  • Extends and expands the moratorium on certain evictions and foreclosures
  • Requires employers to develop and implement infectious disease exposure control plans

The bill also modifies or expands a wide range of other programs and policies, including those regarding Medicare and Medicaid, health insurance, medical product supplies, consumer protection requirements, and pension and retirement plans.

 

We also take this opportunity to reemphasize our support of the American Society of Association Executives’ proposal for a pandemic risk insurance program (PRIP). This measure (“Pandemic Risk Insurance Act of 2020”; PRIA) would mandate that businesses who demonstrate significant business interruption and sharp decline in present and future revenue would be insured in case of a possible pandemic or epidemic.

 

This measure would create a federal "backstop,” much like the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), for insurance claims related to a pandemic or epidemic. The specific purpose of pandemic risk insurance would be to provide for a federal loss-sharing program for certain insured losses resulting from a certified pandemic/epidemic.

 

Following are the ASAE’s proposed details for PRIA:

  1. This measure would create the PRIP, a three-year program to provide a government reinsurance backstop in the case of epidemic/pandemic.
  2. For purposes of this measure, an epidemic is defined as the occurrence in a community or region of cases of an illness, specific health-related behavior, or health-related events clearly in excess of normal expectancy. A pandemic is defined as an epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people.
  3. When the Secretary of Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General, certify that an “epidemic” or “pandemic” event has occurred within the confines of the United States, then this measure will immediately take effect.

The climbing industry and its employees also advocate for legislation that mandates eviction moratoriums and temporary rent relief measures for commercial tenants, especially small businesses like climbing gyms. This legislation should prohibit commercial evictions if the basis for eviction is the non-payment of rent due to financial impacts as a result of COVID-19 and should be applicable for a period of at least 3-6 months. Demonstrable financial hardship or disruption to business income due to COVID-19 is the recommended determining factor for commercial rent relief eligibility.

 

We request that Congress and the Administration enact measures to curtail the imposition of late fees and other charges related to unpaid commercial rent that may have accumulated since March 2020 due to financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to give landlords the support they need to take these steps. All levels of government and banks will need to come together to work to ease property tax and utility payments. These measures are necessary and overdue and must be enacted swiftly to avoid a massive default on rent, and the permanent closure of thousands of small businesses. The climbing industry and all small businesses need solutions that prevent us from going into unmanageable debt.

 

The business models of the climbing gym and fitness industries are uniquely vulnerable in the present crisis. As we confront this evolving and unprecedented period, we call on Congress and the Administration to ensure that America’s fitness and recreational facilities and their employees across the country can remain resilient. Tens of millions of Americans rely on these businesses in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle.

 

The Climbing Wall Association is the only trade association addressing the needs and interests of the indoor climbing industry. We serve climbing gyms, climbing wall operators, climbing wall manufacturers, equipment manufacturers, consultants and others involved in the climbing industry, and provide trade association services to more than 500 companies in the climbing industry. We provide relevant and actionable climbing business resources that keep the industry healthy and thriving. We do this through advocacy; developing industry standards; publishing industry news, data and analysis; sponsoring certification and professional development programs; and producing community-building and educational events.

 

Thank you for your consideration and continued support of our country during this challenging time. If you have questions regarding this urgent request for critically needed support for the fitness and recreation sectors, particularly climbing gyms, please contact Garnet Moore, CWA’s Executive Director, at garnet@climbingwallindustry.org or 720-534-2120.

 

Sincerely,

 

Rick Vance
Chairperson of the Board of Directors
Climbing Wall Association

 

Garnet Moore
Interim Executive Director
Climbing Wall Association

 

Tags:  advocacy  coronavirus  COVID-19  public policy 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

Uniting to Face the Challenges Ahead

Posted By Laura Allured, Friday, April 17, 2020
Membership Assistance Program

We recognize that every indoor climbing business will encounter financial hardship over the coming year, so we are excited to announce the launch of our Membership Assistance Program: one free year of CWA membership for every climbing business in the world.

 

To help ease your financial burden, we’re giving you one less expense to worry about by providing uninterrupted access to our membership resources. The CWA is doing everything we can to support the industry during the current closures and to prepare for the reopening and rebuilding process.

 

What is the CWA’s Coronavirus Action Plan?

  • Coronavirus Resource Hub: We’ve created a centralized hub to address issues and challenges specific to the indoor climbing industry.
  • CWA Community Calls: Ask questions, share ideas, and get actionable advice from experts on our twice-weekly calls. Sign up now if you have not already!
  • Timely Articles: We're regularly publishing articles with guidance, best practices, and information on the most time-sensitive issues facing the industry.
  • Advocacy: We're building a coalition of small business associations and member organizations to advocate for our industry's inclusion in economic relief legislation.
  • Public Policy: We're coordinating industry volunteers with high-level experience to research, communicate, and shape public policy.
  • Lobbying: We're actively lobbying and making connections with state and national legislators.
  • Research: We’re convening industry experts and researchers to guide the creation of post-coronavirus operational and hygiene procedures.
  • Guidance: We’re developing guidance and best practices around reopening and rebuilding your business.

Just like you, our team is focused on finding creative and effective ways to get through this situation. We’re collaborating with industry professionals, thought leaders, and organizations from around the world to form a united front as we recover.

 

Through the Membership Assistance Program, we’re removing all barriers to membership in order to preserve the strongest possible community of indoor climbing businesses. Join us on the journey back to thriving operations!

 

When you’re ready to join, follow these simple steps:

  1. Pick your username.
  2. Enter your contact and member information.
  3. On the Membership Dues screen, enter the number of additional locations you have.
  4. Enter the promo code MembershipAssist if you’d like to take advantage of a free membership.
  5. Verify your billing details and click “Submit”.
  6. Make any partial payments or contributions you wish to our COVID-19 fund.

 

JOIN THE CWA

 

We look forward to welcoming you to our community, because together we’re stronger. If you need assistance accessing your free membership or if you have any questions, please email us at membershipassistance@climbingwallindustry.org.

 

The Membership Assistance Program could not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors. These companies have chosen to support the indoor climbing industry despite the challenges that we all face. Check them out and show them some love!

 

Membership Assistance Program Sponsors

Summit Level Sponsors



Lead Sponsors



Top Rope Sponsors



Anchor Sponsors



Sender Sponsors



Basecamp Sponsors


Tags:  coronavirus  COVID-19  member spotlight  public policy 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

The Impact of H.R. 6201 “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” on Indoor Climbing Gyms

Posted By Garnet Moore, Friday, March 20, 2020
Families First Coronavirus Response Act

On March 18th Congress passed the Coronavirus Response Act. In this bill there is assistance for you and your employees. Here’s a brief overview of some of the key laws that you will need to pay attention to.

 

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act

  • If you have fewer than 500 employees, you must now provide 2 weeks of paid sick leave.
    • If your employee has been advised to self-quarantine, is experiencing symptoms, or is subject to an isolation order, you must pay sick leave at the regular rate.
    • If they are caring for someone who has been advised to self-quarantine, is experiencing symptoms, or is subject to an isolation order, or if they are caring for a child whose school or care provider has been closed, you must pay sick leave at two-thirds the regular rate.
  • Full time workers are eligible for up to 80 hours of sick leave and part-time workers are eligible for sick leave based on their normal work hours over a two-week period.
  • If you have less than 50 employees, the Department of Labor may exempt businesses from this requirement if it threatens the viability of the business.
  • Employees must have been employed for 30 days to be eligible for this benefit.
  • If you have an existing paid leave policy, you must also provide this emergency paid sick leave.
  • You could be subject to civil penalties if you violate this law.

Tax Credits for Required Paid Sick Leave

  • You will receive a refundable payroll tax credit equal to 100% of qualified paid sick leave wages for each quarter.
    • This credit is claimed on your quarterly employment tax returns. To assist with cash flow, employers can fund the family leave pay by accessing employment taxes that have been withheld and set aside for deposit with the IRS.
    • The credit is capped at $511 per day for employees personally affected, and at $200 per day for employees who are caring for others.
  • If you are self-employed and you are diagnosed or have to comply with an isolation recommendation you are able to claim up to 100% of the qualified sick leave equivalent, if you are self-employed and you are caring for someone you can claim up to 67% of the sick leave amount.
    • The credit is refundable and will be credited against your income and self-employment taxes.
    • The credit is capped at $511 per day or the average daily self-employment income for the tax year.
    • You must retain documentation to establish eligibility for the credit.

Emergency Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) Expansion Act

  • If you have fewer than 500 employees your employees who have been working for at least 30 days are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave under the FMLA if they are caring for a child whose school or care provider has closed.
    • The first 10 days of this leave can be unpaid, but an employee could choose to use vacation, personal leave, or any other paid time off available.
    • After the first 10 days employers must provide two-thirds the normal pay rate.
  • Family leave pay is capped at $200 per day and $10,000 in total and is limited to 12 weeks in one calendar year.
  • If you have less than 50 employees the Department of Labor may exempt businesses from this requirement if it threatens the viability of the business.

Tax Credits for Required Paid Family Leave

  • You will receive a refundable payroll tax credit equal to 100% of qualified family leave wages paid.
    • This credit is claimed on your quarterly employment tax returns. To assist with cash flow, employers can fund the family leave pay by accessing employment taxes that have been withheld and set aside for deposit with the IRS.
    • The credit is capped at $200 per day and $10,000 dollars per calendar quarter.
    • The credit is triggered only after an employee has taken more than 10 days of paid sick leave.
  • If you are self-employed and you are caring for a child whose school or care provider has closed, then you are eligible for a tax credit equal to 100% of the qualified family leave equivalent.
    • The credit is refundable and will be credited against your income and self-employment taxes and it can be refundable against an employer’s payroll taxes.
    • The credit is capped at $200 per day or the average daily self-employment income for the tax year and is capped at 50 days.
    • You must retain documentation to establish eligibility for the credit.

 

Garnet Moore Head ShotAbout the Author

Garnet Moore is the Director of Operations at the Climbing Wall Association. Garnet brings more than a decade of experience in the climbing industry, including his time as the COO at Brewer's Ledge.

 

Tags:  coronavirus  COVID-19  human resources  leadership  management  public policy  regulations 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

CWA’s Public Policy Agenda: Protecting Our Sport

Posted By Robert Angell, Monday, February 17, 2020
Climbing Gym Regulations

If you are a gym owner or operator, chances are you have been approached by a representative of a government agency in your state at one time or another, and informed that the agency has begun, or is about to begin, a licensing and inspection scheme involving your operation. This article will walk you through the CWA’s stance on regulatory issues and how those issues can impact climbing wall operators like you.

 

Through its public policy agenda, the CWA works to prevent inappropriate licensing and inspection schemes that drive up costs for you and your members and may increase your members’ risk of injury.

 

The CWA’s public policy agenda includes the following policy statements:

 

The CWA’s public policy agenda involves educating our members on policy matters that may have an impact on their programs and businesses; promoting positive regulatory and business conditions for the industry; and promoting sound public policy regarding health, physical education and recreation. The CWA ... coordinates activity on the state and local levels to defend against policies, laws, or regulations that might be harmful to our members or the public.

 

Legislatures have proposed laws that would allow state or provincial governments to establish licensing requirements, enact regulations, and administer climbing gym inspections. Frequently this is accomplished by applying amusement licensing laws to sports and recreation facilities, which we oppose.

 

Several state legislatures have proposed bills that would severely restrict use of visitor or participation agreements, specifically weakening liability protections for the business owner[;] we maintain that these liability protections are necessary for the long term health and viability of a sport like climbing.

 

State amusement licensing laws were mainly enacted before the advent of the dedicated indoor climbing facility and are somewhat similar from state to state. Ohio’s law is fairly typical:

 

"Amusement ride" means any mechanical, aquatic, or inflatable device, or combination of those devices that carries or conveys passengers on, along, around, over, or through a fixed or restricted course or within a defined area for the purpose of providing amusement, pleasure, or excitement. (ORC 1711.50(A))

 

The three elements, “mechanical device,” “carries or conveys passengers on, along ... a fixed or restricted course,” and “purpose of providing amusement, pleasure, or excitement” are common to the pre-indoor climbing amusement statutes.

 

State agencies charged with regulating amusement devices and venues have indulged some tortured interpretations of these elements in order to fit commercial climbing walls into the amusement regulatory scheme. Most of these efforts involve the “mechanical device” and “fixed course” elements. State agencies have contended that carabiners, auto belays, holds, and harnesses fit the definition of “mechanical device.”

 

One state regulator even asserted that the wall itself is a “mechanical device” that “conveys passengers” to the top. The regulators then argue that the set routes on the walls fit the definition of “fixed course.”

 

The practice of classifying climbing walls as amusement devices has real-world consequences for the operator. States can:

  • impose high registration and licensing fees (which may be assessed per-wall instead of per-facility);
  • subject operators to inspections by inspectors trained to inspect amusement rides;
  • adopt operational standards designed for the amusement industry;
  • and subject operators to onerous penalties for failing to comply with the regulatory scheme, including hefty monetary penalties, cease-and-desist orders, and even criminal liability.

Classifying climbing gym employees as amusement workers may result in as much as a fivefold increase in workers’ compensation premiums. In turn, the cost of participation goes up.

 

The CWA does not oppose regulation per se. We recognize that state agencies are charged with protecting the public and ensuring competent operations. However, we believe that regulation should be appropriately tailored to the realities of our sport.

 

Our argument is that a commercial climbing gym is a training and fitness facility that cannot be appropriately regulated as an amusement venue, and that applying amusement regulations to our sport may result in increased risk to participants.

 

The CWA has developed valuable resources that help us to make those arguments, including the Industry Practices, standards for climbing wall instructors, work-at-height, design and engineering, structural inspections, and the ClimbSmart! program. This focus on the function of the facility has served us well in a number of states.

 

If state regulators come calling at your gym, we are ready to help! Give us a shout or an e-mail if you have questions or concerns.

 

Bob Angell Head ShotAbout the Author

Robert Angell is an Ohio- and Colorado-licensed attorney concentrating in the areas of administrative law, recreation, amusement, and entertainment law, and business formation. He served on the CWA Board of Directors from 2006 to 2013 and was reappointed to the Board in 2019. Bob has been instrumental in regulatory initiatives on behalf of CWA members across the U.S. since 2005. His clients include many gyms in Ohio and other states.

 

Tags:  certifications  operations  public policy  regulations  risk management  standards 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 
Membership Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal