Revisiting its roots with its new climbing training facility, The BoardRoom, The Pad Climbing has started its Santa Barbara-area expansion with a focus on community and sharing a passion for rock climbing.
The Pad Climbing started in 2002 as a small bouldering gym in San Luis Obispo. SLO-Op was created in a self-storage unit by founding members Paul Hatalsky, Julie Workman, and Yishai Horowitz. Horowitz and his now-wife Kristin McNamara — who he brought in to help run the operation before they even started dating — continue to run The Pad as business development director and CEO, respectively.
After moving through several different locations as it grew over the years, SLO-Op became The Pad Climbing SLO in 2017 at its current San Luis Obispo location at 888 Ricardo Ct.
The Pad also has a climbing gym in Henderson, Nevada and used to have a location in Santa Maria before it closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, The Pad is coming to southern Santa Barbara County.
The BoardRoom — a “throwback to the original experience when (they) first started The Pad Climbing in a storage unit over 20 years ago” — opened to climbers May 24, offering a 24/7 training area with weights and training boards.
“It’s been a long time coming. We’re really happy to have a presence (with the BoardRoom) open as a prelude to the big gym,” Horowitz told Noozhawk. “We’ve been looking to open a gym in Santa Barbara for probably 10 years now.”
Horowitz said there have been multiple potential leases to bring The Pad to Santa Barbara earlier, but they were either not quite right for the climbing gym or have fallen through.
However, The Pad Santa Barbara has finally found its home in the Magnolia Shopping Center near Santa Barbara, at 5140 Hollister Ave.
“This time we’re actually coming,” Horowitz said. This location “actually coming to fruition is a pretty amazing feeling. … I’m excited for sure, and it still feels a little unreal.”
With open hours to guests from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturdays, The BoardRoom offers 1,000-square feet of training walls with different types of bouldering, showers, free weights, and cardio equipment. Members have 24-hour access to the facility.
“Maybe you’re a golden god of climbing, maybe you’re a total newb — it doesn’t matter — this place is where you go to share pure psych for movement,” The Pad’s website says about the BoardRoom. “Our dedicated training facility is designed to provide the space to get better at the thing you’re in love with.”
Meanwhile, the full Pad Climbing gym is estimated to open in about a year, Horowitz said, as the team works on getting building permits approved and a conditional use permit finalized.
Horowitz said a County Planning Commission hearing is scheduled for August, and once all the permits are approved, the buildout will also take some time.
Once opened, amenities planned for the full climbing gym include 45-degree rope walls, speed climbing walls, a large youth area, a yoga and multipurpose room, free rental equipment and beginner classes, a lounge and coworking space, free coffee and Wi-Fi, showers, and more.
A big part of The Pad’s other locations that it hopes to bring to Santa Barbara is the sense of community in the climbing gym.
“Climbing communities are pretty tight-knit,” Horowitz said. “Santa Barbara has an incredible climbing community — a lot of strong climbers, a lot of motivated climbers.”
Horowitz added that he hopes for The Pad to be a “third space” for people, after home and work.
“It’s definitely that in SLO, definitely that in Henderson. We’re hoping to be that in Santa Barbara,” Horowitz said. “A lot of people have met best friends, significant others, business partners — there’s been a lot of connections made at the gym.”
More information on The Pad Climbing and future updates on the Santa Barbara location can be found on its website here.
“We’re very excited and grateful to be in the community and we want it to be successful,” Horowitz said.