In June of 2021, Matt and Wendy Beio opened the doors to Lincoln’s first bouldering gym, MW Climbing.
The Beios were both active climbers before opening MW Climbing, both starting with rope climbing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Outdoor Adventure Center. After becoming emerged in the climbing community, they said they wanted to create a space for the community to grow in Lincoln.
“We’ve always kind of wanted to do something like this,” Matt said. “We just kind of like saw an opportunity. So we kind of just jumped on it. It’s something that I think Lincoln really needed.”
Wendy said the welcoming community is one of the reasons they wanted to bring more rock climbing opportunities to Lincoln. Since opening, MW Climbing has been the only space for Lincolnites, like Adam Szatko, to test out their bouldering skills.
“I was always interested, but I never like actually climbed because there really isn’t anything around here,” Szatko said.
Szatko has been climbing at MW Climbing for 10 months. At first, he said he was worried because he didn’t know anyone, but said that the community has been very welcoming.
“It’s been really awesome seeing the support of our community and climbers that have never climbed before coming in here and getting hooked on it and enjoying it,” Wendy said. “Bringing their friends and finding a way to, you know, enjoy physical activity with also combining with this, like the social aspect that climbing brings uniquely to the space.”
According to Wendy, compared to rope climbing, bouldering tends to be more accessible, both financially and physically — and accessibility is a main focus of the gym.
“Rock climbing requires a good amount more gear,” Matt said. “So it’s a little bit more intense there for what you actually need to show up and do it versus this. You can show up in a pair of tennis shoes, and you’re able to go.”
Additionally, bouldering differs from rope climbing in the way that there are no ropes used, and the courses are shorter but more physically and mentally intensive. Oftentimes, bouldering is referred to as the “sprinting” rock climbing, while rope climbing is known the “running.”
“Bouldering is maybe a little bit less cardio because you’re doing a little bit shorter of a wall so it’s a little bit more intense in that aspect,” Matt said.
In Nebraska, there is one other gym with a bouldering option — Approach Climbing Gym in Omaha — but MW Climbing is the only bouldering-specific gym in the state.
To make bouldering as financially accessible as possible, Wendy worked with MW Climbing’s program director, Rhianna Giron, to develop a free introductory class.
“Both Matt and I are educators, we find that education and access to education is really important to us,” Wendy said. “And so we offer as many things as we can for free because we don’t think that you know, access to this knowledge should be a barrier for anybody.”
The classes are offered every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and are designed to teach beginners tips in tricks to help them be more confident during their first climb, Wendy said.