FROM FRIENDS TO FAMILY.
In answer to the limited local climbing opportunities, SLO-OP (a loosely formed co-operative bouldering gym) was established in a Self Storage unit in 2002 by a few founding members, led by Yishai Horowitz. Horowitz conceived of the idea after a trip to New Zealand where he saw something similar.
Despite the odds against it: small size – only 400 square feet and ten feet tall, the very overhanging, bouldering-specific homemade walls, financially broke even within its first month of operation, and no advertising budget, SLO-Op continued to grow and attract new climbers. In the meantime, Horowitz enlisted Kristin McNamara to help him professionalize and run the operation, which she and he have run as partners ever since. We lost our lease in July 2005, due to new management.
In March 2006, Horowitz found a new location and galvanized the community into action, using volunteers to construct a steel-framed wall using money on loan from interested climbers. The result? SLO-Op II. We filed as an LLC and a non-profit and became the country’s official first non-profit bouldering gym.
And then it got bigger and we got better. We built a bigger facility again for SLO Op III in 2009. (Horowitz and McNamara started dating at this point, too . . . all those long construction hours alone in the gym – carpal tunnel, nearly killing Horowitz with a nail gun . . . and led to marriage in 2011.)
The idea has spawned a huge movement toward smaller co-op-type bouldering gyms all over the world and we couldn’t be more honored. We opened a second location in Santa Maria in 2015 – and called it The Pad – a 10,000 square foot facility with expanded kids’ program and social outreach.
And then, for good measure, we tore down SLO Op III, became a for-profit so we could take on bank loans and investors, and are now The Pad Climbing – SLO, circa 2017, with 14,000 square feet or roped climbing, bouldering, weights, and yoga studios.
We’re now slowly expanding, starting with taking ownership of ORIGIN CLIMBING + FITNESS in Henderson, NV and pursuing a number of new builds in underserved areas.
It’s our goal to be the best at all the things. Let us know how we’re doing and . . .
THANKS FOR JOINING US ON THIS JOURNEY.