Uniting Canada's Largest Climbing Community

Hub Climbing – Ontario's New Climbing Super-Gym

With an already successful gym in Markham, Hub climbing has announced that they will be opening (early October 2018) a new almost 50-foot tall and 30,000-square-foot climbing super-gym in Mississauga.

We caught up with Hub Climbing owner Steven Brown and explored the reasons for opening a new facility, the interesting challenges encountered during the construction process and how the new gym will fit in with the growing Ontario climbing community.
  •  Hub Climbing – Ontario's New Climbing Super-Gym.

    Hub Climbing – Ontario's New Climbing Super-Gym.

Congratulations on the upcoming opening of the new Hub Climbing gym. When did you get the idea to open a second (and significantly larger) climbing gym and when did you break ground on the project?
Hub Climbing: Hub’s mission is to introduce as many new people to climbing as possible. We were surprised that many of our new boulderers at our original Hub location were driving long distances to lead climb and top-rope. This prompted us to explore the idea of building a welcoming world-class climbing facility for the Greater Toronto Area that would have all the disciplines of modern indoor climbing. We broke ground nearly a year ago.
  •  The new Hub Climbing gym before construction.

    The new Hub Climbing gym before construction.

Hub Climbing in Mississauga.

Speaking of significantly larger, can you tell us a bit more about the facility? In particular the overall size, the height of the walls and the general angles?
Hub Climbing: Sure, here are some highlights. The building originally was 39-feet high, but we wanted it to have outstanding roped climbs, so we dug down another 11 feet. The building is about 30,000 square feet so will have more lead terrain than any other gym in the province. A lead archway starts about 40 feet from the ground and traverses for about 25 feet. There’s also a very cool 45-degree angle lead-only feature that looks like a dragon’s tail. To support the upcoming Olympic climbing format (climbers compete in lead, bouldering and speed), we added a 10-metre tall speed climbing wall with four stations. There’s also a surprising amount of bouldering terrain. We tried hard to include a variety of challenging angles and shapes, but even with a 30,000-square-foot building, you can run out of space fast.
  •  Breaking gournd at the new Hub Climbing gym in Mississauga.

    Breaking ground at the new Hub Climbing gym in Mississauga.

Hub Climbing in Mississauga.

This is going to be Ontario’s first (Canada’s first?) super-gym. Can you describe a few of the features/amenities/courses that put the new Hub Climbing gym in the super-gym category?
Hub Climbing: The new facility will get all the amenities you would expect from a large gym including a dedicated fitness area and yoga classes. We also created a dedicated beginners' area to serve the needs of new climbers. But rather than simply relying on a single facility, we will encourage our members to sample the climbing at both of our gyms – they are only about a 45-minute drive apart. Together, both Hub gyms provide over 50,000 square feet of space and offer a great variety of climbs. For example, Mississauga members can go to our original Markham location and try out the 23-foot high dragon problem (you're climbing over a massive foam pit) and the hundreds of boulder problems. We also have augmented-reality climbing coming this fall!
  •  Breaking ground at the new Hub Climbing gym in Mississauga.

    Breaking ground at the new Hub Climbing gym in Mississauga.

Hub Climbing in Mississauga.

When we recently talked on the phone, you mentioned that you wanted the gym to be an inviting space as well as offer positive recreational opportunities for youth. Care to discuss further?
Hub Climbing: It's incredibly rewarding for us to see young climbers who are introduced to this sport make this place their second home. If Hub Climbing is a positive, welcoming and safe place for young climbers to learn and develop, then we have met one of our key goals.
  •  Wall construction at the new Hub Climbing gym.

    Wall construction at the new Hub Climbing gym.

  •  Wall construction at the new Hub Climbing gym.

    Wall construction at the new Hub Climbing gym.

  •  Wall construction at the new Hub Climbing gym.

    Wall construction at the new Hub Climbing gym.

Hub Climbing in Mississauga.

So who do you see as the typical Hub Climbing customer?
Hub Climbing: In Markham, we wanted to introduce climbing and good climbing practices to as many people as possible. In Mississauga, we will continue with this approach, while also addressing the needs of more experienced climbers. Advanced climbers have told us they have been waiting for a gym of this calibre for many years.
Ok, now that we’ve talked a bit about the gym, let’s focus a bit on you. How did you get into climbing?
Hub Climbing: I became sick with what was probably Crohn’s disease (it has never been fully diagnosed). For more than three years, I had multiple surgeries, and when I was finally released from the hospital, it seemed that I was given a second chance at life. Bouldering seemed like the stupidest thing to try given my condition, but I wanted to give it a go and my wife surprisingly agreed to come with me. I became addicted right away. Rob and Yoav (my friends and business partners) got addicted soon after, and we regularly climbed for years.
  •  The new finished walls at Hub Climbing gym.

    The new finished walls at Hub Climbing gym.

  •  The new finished walls at Hub Climbing gym.

    The new finished walls at Hub Climbing gym.

Hub Climbing in Mississauga.

Now let’s talk about the rest of the Hub Climbing team. In particular, the folks that helped make this happen.
Hub Climbing: Rob, Yoav and I co-designed the facility, and we have the dubious record of requesting the most changes from Walltopia, the manufacturer of our climbing walls. We may also have the record for the longest project-design cycle – we took well over one year to finalize our plans. We really couldn’t have done it without excellent service from Walltopia. So this covers the building and wall design. The next big step is to grow and develop the climbing community in this area. This is where the Hub staff, management and setters will play a significant role. It's with their hard work and commitment that this new Hub facility will grow, develop its own personality and become a part of the community.

Hub Climbing in Mississauga.

Anyone that’s ever been involved in a large construction project (like building a super-gym) has had to overcome a few hurdles. What were some of the interesting challenges that cropped up when you were building the gym?
Hub Climbing: Oh boy, how much space do you have for an answer? The architect we hired overestimated his abilities and couldn’t cope with the magnitude of the project. He hired a consulting company to help, but they gave up midway through the project. Thankfully we were able to find a wonderful new architect and a secondary-code consultant. They both know their stuff and take pride in their work. We learned a lot during this process, and in particular how hard it is to switch architects halfway through a project!
And what were some of the more pleasant surprises you experienced during the construction process?
Hub Climbing: We conducted sample drilling at the site to see how deep we could dig. The first engineering company said we could only go down five feet until we hit bedrock. They tested this in four spots and confirmed their results. Thankfully, our wonderful contractors managed to go down to 11 feet which gave us way more usable height.
  •  The new finished walls at Hub Climbing gym.

    The new finished walls at Hub Climbing gym.

  •  The new finished walls at Hub Climbing gym.

    The new finished walls at Hub Climbing gym.

Hub Climbing in Mississauga.

When is the gym officially opening and do you have any special events planned?
Hub Climbing: The gym is opening during the first week of October. We are having a quiet launch for the first two weeks, with access limited to Hub members and experienced climbers (climbing at least six months and well-versed in climbing). During this period we will not be offering belay courses, lead courses, youth programs, birthday parties or group events – we want to focus on making sure all the staff are adequately trained and that the facility is operating efficiently. The benefit of this approach is that more experienced climbers can sample the gym with fewer distractions. We are hoping that these climbers provide feedback about the facility so we can further fine-tune the space before it’s open to the broader public.

If you’re planning to lead climb, consider booking your test ($17.50 plus HST non-refundable) online through www.hubclimbing.com at least four days before your visit. Looking forward to seeing everyone there!
You can find out more about the new Hub Climbing gym in Mississauga and its official opening date at www.hubclimbing.com. You can also sign up for opening-date alerts at http://hubclimbing-sauga.launchrock.com.
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Gus Alexandropoulos is a freelance writer who has been involved in the outdoor industry for over 25 years. During his career he has been the editor at Canada’s national climbing magazine, as well as the gear editor for a national cycling magazine, triathlon magazine and running magazine. His work has been published in Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, and he has been a guest on television and radio broadcasts. His passion for climbing began in Ontario in the mid 80s and he continues to travel extensively in search of crisp conditions and steep rock.