Climbing wall facility and gym headed to East Memphis

A world-class climbing and fitness gym is on the way to Memphis by sometime next year, as Chattanooga-based High Point Climbing and Fitness recently announced intentions to build a new facility off of Walnut Grove Road in East Memphis.

“Memphis is a great market for a climbing gym, and our new facility is truly going to be one of the top ten facilities in the U.S.,” said

High Point partner and President John Wiygul, who was born in Memphis and grew up climbing. In fact, the first wall he ever climbed was at Outdoors Inc. on Poplar Avenue. “I’m still a frequent visitor to Memphis, and I feel like I know the city well enough to want to expand our business there.”

Wiygul describes climbing as his lifelong passion, and he and partner John O’Brien were able to turn their hobby into a successful business.

“Climbing provides a more social way to be active and stay fit because you can climb with your family or friends, and it’s more of a group setting as opposed to doing your own thing at a fitness facility,” he said.

High Point opened its first facility in downtown Chattanooga in 2013, then purchased another gym there, and most recently opened a new center in Birmingham, Ala. eight months ago.

“We’ve been looking at Memphis for a long time, and actually considered building our first gym there,” said Wiygul.

They chose East Memphis due to its central location in Memphis, its high visibility for people commuting to and from work and its close proximity to Shelby Farms. The Memphis facility will be larger than the gym in Chattanooga.

The 2.7-acre parcel where the 32,000-square-foot facility will be built was formerly an overflow parking lot for Christian Brothers High School.

Designs will be similar to the company’s downtown Chattanooga location, with an outdoor and indoor climbing walls. The layout inside will include a 52-foot climbing wall, bouldering walls, and a kids zone with fun elements like light-up climbing walls, large staircases and a beanstalk.

Visitors can pay per visit or join with an individual or family membership.

“Our revenue model is very diverse. We cater to a wide demographic of climbers and non-climbers, from beginners to experts,” said Wiygul.

“For anyone wanting to be active or learn to climb, we do classes, as well as summer camps and birthday parties.”

The facility will complement its climbing options with a gym with weight and aerobic equipment as well as yoga classes.

High Point will also open a facility in Huntsville, Ala., next year.

“We want to build a regional network in the Southeast and expand from there,” explained Wiygul.

Construction should get underway in Memphis by the end of the year, and an opening is expected later in 2018. A local contractor will handle the construction.

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Michael Waddell is a native Memphian who returned to Memphis several years ago after working for nearly a decade in San Diego and St. Petersburg, Fla., as a writer, editor and graphic designer. His work over the past few years has been featured in The Memphis Daily News, Memphis Bioworks Magazine, Memphis Crossroads, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Contact Michael.