It’s 5/26 at 8:02 pm. I put the time because who knows what will happen by the time you see this! When we were closed, I really thought we’d be open with more of a plan and a timeline, and there’s one promise we may not be able to keep: WE MAY NOT BE READY ON DAY 1.
The governments have been trickling news (as I write this, NV Gov Sisolak has cleared gyms to open, so CA isn’t far behind). There’s also a few things in play – Clark County, NV asked for our operations plan for the pandemic. I fully expect the City of SLO to ask for a plan, too. I have no idea what Santa Barbara county/Santa Maria will want. We may have to wait a bit to get approved by the city our license is held with.
Our staff has been ridiculously awesome through this – we’re essentially a startup all over again – so the stress of make a plan, then change it, has worn us all down a bit.
I wanted to share something that one of our front desk people wrote to me recently, “Being paid right now is dramatically improving my well being just by removing one stress factor from my life (and allowing me to buy chocolate chips and beer when I grocery shop). And not only that, but working at The Pad through all of this gives me a sense of home and a sense of purpose, as silly as that may sound. I had been unsure of where I was going to go or what I was going to do, with nowhere to go and nothing to do, but now I have a place to stay and work to do.”
She thanked me, but really, she’s thanking you. There are many of you reading this that opted to keep supporting us through closure. It helped me completely stay sane because I knew we’d be back. It helped me keep our employee-focused business doing that . . . and moreover, it helped us totally reform what the PadFam is.
The point of my bringing up the broken promise is this – because we didn’t know when we’d open, we kinda went big. We learned all kinds of information sharing, some of us are learning new software tools, some of us are adjusting to new roles, some of us have to wait for the paint to dry, and it is IMPERATIVE that we start out smoothly with happy staff. We don’t want to open and haphazardly tell them what the protocols are. So, we’re taking this week to do it in time.
In the coming days, we’ll start to trickle information about our operations plans. Please be patient with us. The county health department of San Luis Obispo actually tweaked our plans for us and the information and plan we have in place is based on their feedback, along with a lot of science, reading, and following guidelines.
We opted not to post all the things we have going on because we want them to be a delightful surprise.
But here’s a couple things to be psyched on:
- Our volunteer program is ready to go – if you or someone you know cannot afford a membership, and they need the psych of the gym, we have safe, wonderful positions available. Email with your location and we’ll get it to the right people.
- We have a scholarship program in place, as well – we maintain a 501c3 foundation that we’re receiving funds for and scholarshipping applicants. Apply here or donate here.
- Our websites will be totally revamped, so yay!
- Totally restructured and coach-led curriculum for our youth program and summer camp curriculum (don’t know if we’ll be able to go forward with them, but the coaches of all three gyms have worked together to come up with something awesome through this) – and our setting director, Joe, has taken over overseeing the program. He is a true superboss and we’re excited to have someone from inside helping our coaches rise.
- All gyms will be transitioning to MINDBODY (SLO and Santa Maria are already on it) – and we’re adopting an app. No, the silly app isn’t in the markets yet (I’m looking at you Apple Development . . . ) but we hope it will be for our reopening. We are looking at giving you a combination of drop in and reservation system for climbing as we suspect that will be a requirement – the app will make it handy for members to make sure they get in. If MBO and the app are not ready, it will be business as usual and we’ll do that later.
- Our yoga program is getting a revisit. We will not be able to have full yoga classes or a full schedule because of the pandemic restrictions – but this is an opportunity. If you had a chance to catch our chat with our studio director, you’ll understand that she has amazing vision. I am excited to see what she comes up with and I think we’ll be improving the way yoga is experienced at our gyms, and hopefully influence the practice overall elsewhere! She is already working on an online course that outlines the goals of yoga practice for climbers – both for climbers to experience and instructors in our studios.
- We’ll have some festive Coronavirus stuff for you – the staff will be sporting custom masks as soon as we get them done (receiving the fabric this week) and we have shirts and stickers made with the image above.
- We brought on an old SLO Oper who worked with us years ago to support our gyms in California – she brings a lot of energy, leadership, and community building experience and I think we’re going to all feel her energy pretty quickly.
- Origin is prepped and ready to go 24/7 – we will need to do additional staff training (and member training) as the responsibility of unstaffed access is something that needs to be taught when you’re used to a different way – we have tarps that will close off the ropes during our unstaffed hours. Also, SO MANY improvements to the gym, it’s not funny. The team there really got after it and transformed the place.
- We’ll be having a blowout sale when we open, as well. We will be offering rentals still – but we want to remove barriers and give you the opportunity to have your own equipment. (Yeah, and move old stock, too, we’re honest here.)
- All gyms have been reset with “social distance” encouraging in mind. High five to the hard work of all our setters!
Look for emails and posts in the coming days that will start getting you ready to get your little gym rat love on.
If you would like to not wait and get into the details – here is our pandemic response policy for you to review. We do NOT welcome comments on it, it’s up to you if it’s enough or too much. (Sorry to be like that, but 3000+ people telling me how they feel is worse than hearing about it from my friends on Facebook.)
I’ll end with some good information (you’ll see the studies cited below) that should help explain our policies and tacts going forward (outside of the regulations put on us by our governments). At all times we’ve tried to be balanced and also take the lighter side of this – and Dr Kasten does a solid job of both, so read on: Let’s Catch COVID-19
Newsom has taken back county control – despite the SLO community attesting their readiness to reopen. We have no timeline for reopening.
Ha ha – remember how less than a week ago, we said we probably weren’t going to be opening in May? Ha ha . . . well . . .
This is our 5/6 report
First, thank you for your support, whether it was continuing your membership, staying with us to work, or rooting for us from the sidelines.
We were incredibly fortunate to be well prepared going into this – receiving government funding quickly and having awesome staff ready to put in the work to bring us back better than ever through this. We are SO grateful for the members that continued to support us, allowing us to pay for our staff and all our partners up to this point without accruing additional debt. If you are one of them, know that we will not forget you now or in the future. The Pad is based on people doing nice things with no hope of return, and you reaffirmed to us that it still is.
When are we opening?
Some signs are pointing to “next week” when an email we sent out less than a week ago said we were at least a month out. We don’t know – SLO’s public health said they were going to let some businesses go, but not gyms yet – they aren’t ready, but when? Dunno. But we’re ready to do this when it happens. That’s why this is going out.
Why will you open right away when you’re allowed to – I don’t think it’s safe?
We’ve been closely following the logic behind the West Coast Pact guidelines to opening and they are based on:
- Available testing
- Available hospital beds
- Available ventilators
- Systems in place to support staff who get sick
The stay at home order was not meant to destroy the virus, it was meant to slow the spread so that hospitals could treat acute cases. It spreads fast, and that is the point.
Our government public health agencies believe that it is time to reopen because they believe the spread is under control under certain conditions – and we will be adhering to those conditions without additional requirements. We’ve chosen to do this because we’ve watched the gamut of responses to the coronavirus and we believe in letting people do what they need to be comfortable.
Just as it is with climbing. All climbing is all good. The official policy of the Pad Family of gyms is all response to coronavirus is all good.
Gyms are not hospitals and they don’t need to be. We all got colds from each other before this, and we’ll keep doing that. We are an inherently risky activity – trying to protect you with extraordinary measures in place does not make sense for us to stay true to what and who we are – the survey we sent weeks back showed that to us.
Moreover, we’ve taken a staff-led approach to this and the people coming back, whether front desk or volunteer, setter or coach, are all psyched to be returning under the conditions we’ve outlined – and been consulted in one way or another throughout this.
Well, that’s awesome – or, ugh, I’m not coming . . .
We leave it up to you how you want to respond day-to-day to the pandemic and its concerns and risks. We recognize that some people my choose not to return for a while, or ever, in response to the pandemic and our response to it. If you do return, we also humbly ask you to leave your feelings at home if you come to the gym. Our staff needs to be psyched to keep the psyche for all and if you put those feelings on them, it will bring us all down. Our members are looking for a break from the feelings of what’s going on “out there.” Remember: all climbing is all good.
I’m coming back – what do I need to know?
We have a long term coronavirus policy that affects you – whether you’re a visitor or a member – and you’re welcome to view the long form here.
The short of it is this:
- Whatever kind of sick you feel, if you feel sick, stay home and stay away for at least 7 days if it’s contagious
- If you wonder if you have a temperature, the gyms have a touchless thermometer available for you to use
- Wash your hands or use sanitizer upon entering the facility and upon exiting, so whatever is here, stays here.
- Remind you that you can always cancel or suspend for illness – we want you to stay home.
What can I expect to find when I return?
We will likely have to limit our numbers in the gym to ensure social distancing is followed. What we’re doing is instituting two hour shift sign ups – don’t abuse them or we’ll kick you out. You can use our fancy new PadFam app, available in your app store. It has a waitlist if you don’t get in.
We’ll be bringing back yoga, but less classes and with less people – and having you sanitize and bring your own props and mats for now. We’ll be bringing back the old SLO Op policy of having the instructors AND students help clean the studio before and after they leave. Teamwork makes the dream work – and helps institute mindfulness in the space. We highly recommend you take a look at our fireside chat with Director Sera to get a whole new perspective to bring with you when you come in.
Equipment rental, including crashpads, will resume. Not offering that is a barrier to entry for many we don’t want to impose and there poses no additional risk to offering that as touching a hold someone else touched.
Youth programs are on hold until social distancing orders are lifted. Our teams are training at home and individually at the gym with support from their coaches (yay for keeping them in jobs).
We’ll have masks available for purchase (both really cool custom fabric ones and surgical) for your comfort, along with a sanitary station and happy volunteer ready to squirt on entrance and exit. If we are allowed to open 24/7, we’re going to – and it will be on you to follow that protocol, just as it is ALWAYS on you to follow our protocols or risk losing access.
We will have reset the gyms with new problems and routes designed to keep you spaced from your non-coronavirus buddy partners – and we have protocols in place if we need to do more than that.
Some gyms will have very obvious make overs to go home to. Our staff had a lot of fun with maintenance while we were closed. All of the gyms have had a deep cleaning and fix up that you may or may not immediately notice.
We will have new cleaning measures in place that will stay in place long after concerns after the pandemic is gone. Your weight area should be nicer; your bathroom touchpoints pristine.
We will have a scholarship opportunity available for those unable to afford their memberships or volunteer with us (and, yes, that program is returning as well).
But what about . . .
Finally, we ask you to be patient with us – just as the close down was very reactive and hectic, we expect the opening period to be the same. We will be looking at what happens day to day and week to week to decide when to open something back up or to change plans. We hope that you appreciate our efforts to be thoughtful and flexible now and into the future.
Much love to you all.
Hello Padfam and followers – I’m actually writing this on April 29, so maybe something will change between now and then?
Governor Sisolak of NV joined the “West Coast Pact” which has made it a lot easier for us to monitor the situation across all the gyms. Everyone keeps asking us when we think we’ll open, and let me tell you, the minute we know, we’ll be shouting it from the rooftops.
Governor Newsom gave a press conference yesterday that said that gyms opening would be in “stage 3” and that stage 3 is “months, not weeks” away. Call me optimistic, but I think he is under promising and over delivering here . . . I’ve always thought we were looking at a June 1 opening, and that’s “a month” away. He also dropped hints that we’ll be opening with restrictions, which makes me think it’s NOT actually MONTHS away because if it was, there’d likely be no restrictions at that point.
So, what I’m saying is, we’re guessing here but we don’t know.
Thanks to all of you who filled out the survey we emailed. We got a very clear picture from four short questions about how we should be handling things and our management team is on board with the plan.
So, what’s the plan? We have a lot of people, not just Paddies, following us, at this point thanks to COO Kristin actively helping people get government funding and participating in Climbing Wall Association zoom calls.
Here’s the plan: think about stuff, don’t get too mired in reactivity based on feelings, don’t get stuck making spreadsheets that just waste our time as things change, support our staff as much as we can, and go with the flow.
What I’m saying is: we’re going to hopefully let people decide their own level of safety instead of dictating it. We will have a policy that affects EVERYONE, but all policies we put in place – outside whatever government mandated restrictions we will be following- will be going forward, Coronavirus or not . . . and they’re improvements to our general operations.
At the same time, we are responsible for our staff – so we will be doing everything in our power to make their workplace a safe and moreover HAPPY place to be. They will be modeling the behavior that is recommended by health officials and leading our restriction policies. You showed us where you’re at, we’ll show you where we are when we know what that is, and you can make calls accordingly.
What I’m also saying is, when we reopen, please try very hard not to be too judgy about our choices or others. Some people boulder, some people sport climb. There’s trad, and aid, and free soloing. There’s cragging and alpine and competitions. It’s all climbing. It’s all good. We’re all, all good.
SPEAKING OF MAKING CALLS . . .
We’re not probably going to be open in May. We’ve asked at the outset that you maintain your memberships if you can. We will still continue to do that so that we stay current on bills and can whether this storm for however long this takes.
We are also VERY fortunate to have been funded for the Payment Protection loans for both the SLO/SM gyms AND Origin. Staff payroll is covered until the end of June, plus a little extra. Rent is not covered, insurance is not covered, etc.
We are ALSO VERY fortunate to have received the EIDL loan for the SLO/SM gyms so we are in a pretty good position – not great, not by a long shot, but we’re used to bootstrapping, scraping, and making it go anyway. Origin has not had the luck and we can’t share the money between the gyms.
If you have kept us running to this point and you wish to keep doing it, we very much appreciate it. We cannot tell you what a gift it is to know that all staff who need a secure future have been provided that – it’s allowed creativity to flow, productivity, and ambition to flourish when we all need it the most. YOU have allowed us to be the kind of employer, which leads to us being the kind of company, we want to be. The more money we have to come out of this, the more for sure we can stay, not raise rates, and come back strong.
We have also had members reach out to us willing to scholarship people who are unable to afford memberships. We already were working on something for this by using our robust volunteer program, but if you are interested in providing actual cash – we have a nonprofit 501c3 that can receive funds to scholarship youth programming and memberships. Please email Kristin@thepadclimbing.org for more information. We do not have details on how we’ll select recipients yet, but we will soon.
If you would like to request a membership suspension or cancellation, please click here to send an email request – our crew is ready to help and they are grateful for your support up to this point.
And beyond that, one thing we can promise you is that we’ll be ready for you, day 1. We’ve got some awesome operational, facility, and experience changes headed your way. We cannot WAIT to show you.
April 14 update: what we’re up to
We’re coming up on a month shut-down and I just want to thank those of you who were able to continue to pay your memberships to us – When we first closed, I wanted to have everyone “look busy” by putting a lot on social media, which was the knee jerk reaction of most gyms I know . . . but with time, we’ve all seen that it’s not healthy to glue yourself to social media so we’re keeping it light and staying focused on operational jobs instead, so that you hopefully can go out into the hills or ride on the roads, or spend time with your family.
Special shout out to Paddie Courtney and Originators Ryan and Sam for working frontline customer service. They’re the people processing your inquiries, complaints, membership suspensions/cancellations and frustrations and they’re doing a graceful job of it. Another one goes out to Jacob, our manager in Santa Maria who has also become our HR manager – he’s learned a ton through this and been working with the staff and upper management to both stay compliant for everything through the closure, but also make sure the staff are cared for and checked in with, including those who opted not to work.
One thing for sure, though – do check out our online yoga – and attend this Friday’s chat! You’ll get so much out of it, promise!
(Oh, and if you have kids, my old roommate from back when I was working in Yosemite does kids’ yoga on Thursdays: email her to get an invite to zoom!)
May this be over soon, and find all of you in great health.
<3 Kristin and the whole Pad Fam
Some projects we’re working on behind the scenes:
- Coronavirus response: official employee and member policies for the closure as well as reopening. This includes intentional setting that forces “social distancing,” postering for member education, mask and thermometer purchases so that we can enforce special protocols that the government may recommend once we’re open – we don’t want there to be a single reason for a delay when we can legally open.
- Robust new training protocols for all departments
- Policy audit, consolidation, and improvement
- Budget, projection, and insurance audit and improvement
- Leadership restructuring (you’ll come back to a few new leaders in management!)
- Facility improvements
- Website restructuring
- Improved coaching programming
- Improved birthday party agendas
- New merch (including custom masks created locally, and apparel)
- Relaunch of our early childhood parent participation program
- A new yoga for climbers online course aimed at both instructors and students to help them improve their practice with climbing in mind
- Ready for 24/7 access at Origin (dependent on the software programmers)!!
- And that’s only the stuff you might notice!!! 🙂
April 1 update: what we’re up to
Hi friends! Thought we’d have a quick check-in and tell you about some of the stuff going on behind the scenes.
The shut down actually came at a really good time for us, administratively. We had just has a company-wide retreat for our leaders to go over what was working and what wasn’t and devise systems. But the fixes couldn’t come fast enough and staff was frustrated at how much time implementation was taking. The slow down and regroup has been pretty amazing.
First, thanks to member support, we should be mostly fine even as numbers begin to dwindle (we expect people to cancel more over time as money gets tight and priorities change). A number of our staff requested furlough until we open so our payroll has dropped. Our landlords, banks, and debtors are all working with us to make sure that our community stays afloat and is ready to open with a bang.
We’ve been continuing to monitor the government’s recommendations, along with our private, trusted advisors. We’re also watching what has happened in other countries and we’re preparing to reopen under limited conditions with new requirements, so that on the day we get the green light, we’re ready to go.
Our local advisor recently posted this article and is recommending private citizens make masks and use them in public. Please consider it yourselves.
Other things we’ve been doing:
- Our online yoga program has been well-received. Much thanks to Serra for her background in film because she’s very much committed to quality control and we know it will get EVEN better as time goes along. Please share with nonmembers but request donation for the instructors.
- We have consolidated our Instagram accounts to @ThePadClimbing and centralized our message while still finding a way to customize it to location. More coming soon. More efficient, more cool, yay!
- The routesetters are making DIY videos with training tips
- Coaching/instruction is working on home games
- New website redesign for SLO/SM, New Ascent Ventures site (look at the header – you’re on it), and Origin being finished up!
- Restructuring and ensuring that our youth program becomes a world class one – working to develop early childhood parent-participation classes, more epic birthday parties, more epic youth programming
- SLO – we have the opportunity to expand and relieve some youth/family traffic at the SLO location! That’s still in the works even with the shutdown!
- Improving training across all departments
- Working on more member services: from welcoming information to games and engagement while we’re closed
- Just a lot of really cool stuff
We’re grateful for the support and patience while we all take one for the team right now. Crimp those doorways, get out in nature where you can, and follow us on Instagram to feel connected!