KANSAS CITY, Mo. — About seven years ago, Andrew Potter was serving his third tour of duty in Afghanistan as a captain in the 75th Ranger regiment, when he dreamed of climbing the cliffs around him.
That’s when the idea for “RoKC” first came to mind.
“After getting out of the Army, I just wanted to wake up and do what I like to do every day, which is climb,” Potter said. “So I started working on a business plan to see if it was something that could be possible, and obviously it’s possible.”
Potter opened his first location in North Kansas City in 2016. Now he has three locations, with the most recent in Olathe, opening in 2020.
The gyms have options for all levels of experience, from bouldering to tall climbing walls up to 50 feet high. If these intimidate you, remember what Potter said: Anything is possible.
“Climbing is pretty natural. If you can climb a ladder, you can climb at our gyms,” he said.
For younger kids especially, there’s no limit as to how far they can go.
“Climbing is going to be in the Olympics, so no different than the progression with gymnastics. If you want to start climbing as a 7-year-old competitively, you can climb through the USA National Championships and compete one day to be on the US Olympic team,” Potter said.
It’s not all about the competition. Climbing is an exercise that clears your mind, what Potter calls “active meditation.”
“Climbing really forces you to focus on exactly what you’re doing in the moment. And so what a lot of people find when they come and climb for the first time is they stay longer than they think, and when they leave, they feel a sense of relaxation or almost like a break. It doesn’t feel like they just did a workout,” Potter said.