What Chris Dodge loves most about bouldering – a type of low-height ropeless rock climbing – is how it forces participants to think about the mechanics behind each of their body’s movements. Your mind can’t wander while bouldering, says Dodge, because you must constantly think about your body’s position and how to make sure you don’t fall.

Dodge started the Black Rock Bouldering Gym in Phoenix, Arizona, so he could share this sport with his local community. He named the gym after an O.A.R song that he says describes “a place of peace, inspiration, love, strength, and self-discovery. It’s the place we travel to in our minds when we’re scared, lonely, strong, brilliant, and everything in-between.” Dodge wants his gym to be this kind of refuge for guests.

For $69 a month or $699 per year, members get unlimited climbing, yoga, and fitness training at Black Rock. The facility staff help to bring the body-awareness that bouldering requires to each activity at the gym.

My successes. 

Dodge spent two years researching, forecasting, planning and building relationships before making his dream a reality by opening Black Rock Bouldering Gym in 2016. He was able to recruit investors for the business’ initial funding round. He now runs a successful gym with adult membership plans, a youth program, and special event hosting.

How SCORE helped. 

Because Dodge had never started a business before, he sought out SCORE and received mentoring from Kirk Hawkinson. Hawkinson helped Dodge plan his presentation to investors, assess potential properties, and structure his lease.

Dodge says, “SCORE helped give me a solid foundation on which I could build my financial projections and accounting best practices . . . Without the direction and insight provided by my mentor Kirk, I don’t believe we would have opened the doors as quickly as we did.”

“Trust yourself,” Dodge advises other potential small business owners. “As soon as people find out you’re trying to start a small business, they’ll be quick to lend their ideas and provide ways to make your idea better. This can become very distracting. Remain humble and keep an open mind, but stay confident in your ability to execute your plan.”

Black Rock Bouldering Gym