Michelle Vanderheide and her two business partners – husband Justin and boyfriend Christopher Zhou – had talked about doing business together, and Vanderheide had thought it would take the form of a small cafe.
A turning point came when Justin and Zhou decided to head to the Franchise Expo, which is being held at the Metro Toronto Convention Center. Vanderheide wanted to stay at the Hub Climbing Markham indoor climbing center because she loves climbing. The two men later met her and burst with an idea. They had met people from the Aspire Climbing franchise who were building a climbing wall.
Vanderheide said she, her husband (both 28 years old) and Zhou, 30, are “passionate climbers”.
They talked about the idea of opening their own climbing gym and loved it.
“It’s cool to put the love of climbing into a career,” said Vanderheide.
So the trio decided on it and started looking for a place back in September 2019.
Fast forward to today: Aspire Climbing Vaughan will open this spring, which will hopefully mean Vanderheide sometime in May. Due to COVID-related construction delays and delays in building materials imported from the USA, she is unable to provide an exact opening date.
Vaughan will be the third Aspire Climbing location. The first was in Milton, the second in Whitby.
This is the first climbing course in Ontario to have a ninja warrior obstacle course in the gym, Vanderheide said, adding that the ninja warrior community is growing.
This gym also has real bouldering islands and not just climbing walls.
“It makes climbing different. It emulates nature, ”she said.
The gym is under construction and will eventually be over 20,000 square feet and house more than 7,000 square feet of climbing space. The boulders are up to 16 feet tall and have 70-degree overhangs. For the largest boulder, climb 27 feet from start to finish with multiple angle changes. The gym staff will be building new boulders every week, so there will always be a new challenge. The climbing consists of two massive rock islands and a large straight wall. It has five automatic belay stations that are 23 feet high and two warp walls, one at 10 feet and one at 13 feet.
Aspire Climbing Vaughan offers competitive training for climbers and ninja warriors, as well as youth programs, coaching, birthday parties, camps and more.
Visiting options include: a day pass, monthly memberships, punch passes for 10 visits to share with friends, a party room, classes, and after-school programs from beginner to competition.
ASPIRE CLIMBING VAUGHAN
TYPE: climbing hall
ADDRESS: 231 Trade Valley Dr., DF Department
HOURS: (May change for the time being) Monday through Friday from 3pm to 10.30pm or 11pm
Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
INSTAGRAM: Check for the latest fitness updates: @aspireclimbingvaughan