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A letter from the Kick Rocks Gym owner, Kat Miller

November 8, 2023
Industry News

At Vertical Solutions, we value our partnerships and the lasting relationships that we build with our clients. We recently had the pleasure of working with Kat Miller to fulfill her dream of building a multi-purpose fitness facility. Kat wanted to bring kickboxing and climbing to Tucson AZ, and we were happy to help her create a very unique space.

Kat was kind enough to share her experience working with us and we want to share her kind words with you all.

Thanks, Kat!

“ Working with Vertical Solutions was very personal for me—I learned to climb at The Front in the early 2000s when I was an undergrad at the University of Utah, and it was basically a warehouse with a wall in it. The fact that VS was an offshoot of The Front had personal symmetry that was hard to resist for me.

When I was looking for climbing wall vendors, I spoke with reps from a few different places, and VS was the most responsive, personable, and had the quickest projected completion time. While it wasn't the cheapest option, it was a lower-risk option than some of the overseas vendors who would have had to ship components to the US—we know how that's been going these days so that risk was definitely factored into the decision. Ultimately, Liz's personable phone calls and friendly approach to our initial interactions (even while she was home feeling the effects of early pregnancy no less!) was what sealed the deal for me.

Full disclosure, I have zero experience with building a climbing gym. This whole project was a bit of an Elle Woods "I think I'll build a gym today" and I'm sure the VS team had plenty of eye rolls at my questions and blank stares, but if they did, they never let me know about it. From Liz to Alex to James to Zach, everyone I had direct contact with was professional, friendly, and answered all my questions in ways that were accessible and understandable for someone who's not steeped in the lingo. The client map they provided was extremely helpful in visualizing the process and understanding all the steps involved for all the different players involved. They provided a ton of visuals and gave me design options that were in line with what my vision was, and enough detail to help me feel like part of the process without overwhelming me with technical details that would have been met with blank stares on my part. The wall design process was easy and straightforward, and I definitely felt like Alex and his team heard what we were going for and brought to the table exactly what we were looking for. In such a small space, it would have been easy to have a mediocre wall with little challenge or room for growth, but that wasn't at all what they gave us.

I know now that our little project was also squeezed in between some major builds that would have been easy to prioritize and push ours back for the sake of bigger builds, but that's not what happened. James and Liz and the whole team really pushed to make sure we could get our build done as soon as possible, so we could open our doors as soon as possible. I'll never be able to express my appreciation for that enough—it's likely the difference between success and failure that we were able to open when we did.

I also got to use my credit with Proxy Holds to put some color on the wall, and Kyle the sales rep was exceptionally helpful in curating a purchase order based on the size of the wall and the "vibe" I was going for. It turns out he was a route setter for The Front for a few years, and since I'm not shy about trying to have my wall emulate the OG Front climbing experience, he knew exactly what I was talking about and set us up for a really well-balanced climbing experience. We've gotten nothing but positive feedback from our members, from the "power of the prow" (which has been cited as "the craziest overhang I've ever seen in a gym this size") to the "this wall is humbling" because of the sneaky overhang design that seems innocuous until you're on it.

We absolutely love the wall and her iconic shape and stripe. Right now, we have 33 marked routes with plenty of space for a few more to fit in if we want to. We've loved seeing the crossover between the climbers and the kickboxers and have already had half a dozen people try climbing for the first time after coming in for a kickboxing class, just in the first week it's been open! We love having a unique and accessible gateway to bringing more future climbers into the fold while maintaining the "old school vibe" that brought me into the climbing community nearly 20 years ago. I'm proud of the facility we've built, and the wall VS brought to life for us, and am looking forward to bringing bouldering to a new subset of fitness adventure seekers who might otherwise never have given it a shot! ”

Learn more about Kick Rocks on their website.